Unique Scientist: Dr. Jackie Moy

Time to meet Dr. Jackie Moy (She/her)! Dr. Moy is a cancer biologist by training and currently a medical publications manager and writer for a global medical communications agency!

What kind of scientist are you?
I recently completed my PhD in cancer biology. My work focused on understanding the genetic differences that contribute to prostate cancer health disparities – i.e. why African American men have higher incidence and higher mortality compared to European American men. I identified a new gene variant that is highly expressed in African American prostate cancer patients and characterized how it was contributing to a more aggressive, treatment-resistant cancer. I am now a medical publications manager and writer for a global medical communications agency.

What made you want to become a scientist?
My AP [advanced placement] Biology teacher in high school was the first person who really got me excited about science. She also helped me realize I was good at science. Reading + writing came much more naturally to me that math + science and so I never considered a career as a scientist before Mrs. Bank encouraged me. In college, courses and internships helped me realize that I wanted to do science to help people, to make a difference; thus my grad work in cancer and cancer disparities. I’m hoping to unite my passions for writing and science in the future!

“If grad school is hard, grad school dealing with a chronic, invisible, autoimmune disease felt 1000x more difficult.”

Dr. Jackie Moy

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) almost 10 years ago. If grad school is hard, grad school dealing with a chronic, invisible, autoimmune disease felt 1000x more difficult. I regularly dealt with relapses (i.e. entire sides of my body going numb), fatigue, chronic pain, debilitating nausea, depression, and having way fewer spoons than my classmates (i.e. “The Spoon Theory”). I also had to juggle dealing with insurance companies, doctor’s appointments, MRIs, monthly infusions, and hospitalizations; it’s like having a second full time job. There were many times I didn’t think I could make it through grad school and that I didn’t belong. It took a lot of practice, energy, and courage to advocate for myself to protect my health and set realistic expectations with my mentor (and myself!).

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I trained my cat to be an adventure cat! Sophie is 3yrs old, intelligent, self-confident, fearless, and sassy. She is also deaf. Sophiecat and I love to travel, go on walks + hikes, and outdoor music concerts. We both love being outside, meeting lots of dog friends, and helping people change their preconceived notions about what cats can and can’t do! I also love trying (and eating) new whole food, plant based vegan recipes and buying as many clothes second-hand as possible.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Approval, awareness, acceptance, and accommodations for the health and mental health of scientists, especially graduate students, is severely lacking. I hope the science community will become more welcoming and understanding of people who deal with chronic (invisible) illnesses and mental health struggles. The more diverse our community becomes, the better science we will all do.

“The more diverse our community becomes, the better science we will all do.”

Dr. Jackie Moy

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Myself! I am so proud of my resilience in pursuing a career in science while dealing with a chronic illness and imposter syndrome. My friends, family, therapist, and neurologist (only someone with a chronic illness would thank their doctors!) have been so supportive and motivating during my PhD work and I literally could not have done it without them. It takes a village (especially when I’m not always able to take care of myself) and I have the best village.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
My first first author paper was just accepted…and the reviewers didn’t ask for any additional experiments! I’m still in shock.


#WomenInSTEM, #DisabledInSTEM

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