Dr. Marcie Harris-Hayes is an Associate Professor in the Program in Physical Therapy and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor’s degree in biology from Missouri State University and was awarded her Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University. Marcie then worked as a physical therapist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital before joining the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. While serving on the faculty at Washington University, she completed her doctoral degree in Physical Therapy (DPT) as well as a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation (MSCI). Marcie is with us today to tell us all about her journey through life and science.
People Behind the Science Podcast Show Notes
Life Outside of Science (2:12)
When she’s not at work, you can find Marcie cycling on trails around the city or out listening to live music. She loves attending music festivals and exploring different music venues in St. Louis.
The Scientific Side (3:32)
As a physical therapist, Marcie is an expert of the human movement system. Movement is critical to our everyday lives, and Marcie is particularly interested understanding how movement patterns, strength, and other movement factors may contribute to musculoskeletal pain problems. Her research focuses primarily on pain in the hip joint.
A Dose of Motivation (4:29)
“Kick the Ball, Marcie.” This saying comes from a book title that motivates Marcie to take action. If you spend too much time thinking about something without doing anything about it, you might miss great opportunities.
What Got You Hooked on Science? (8:35)
Marcie started off her career as a practicing physical therapist investigating the relationships between movement and musculoskeletal pain in the clinical world. An influential mentor introduced her to the scientific process within a clinical rehabilitation setting, and Marcie was able to work with her on a research project. This experience, combined with her frustration with the gaps in scientific evidence related to rehabilitation, prompted Marcie to pursue her own independent line of research to improve our understanding of some of the issues she had been treating in the clinic.
The Low Points: Failures and Challenges (16:36)
Many of the challenges Marcie has had with her research have been related to technical difficulties. In a previous pilot study, they were investigating characteristics of people with hip pain problems to determine whether they used different movement patterns or had muscle weakness. They collected data quantifying the motion of the hip, knee, and trunk joint angles, as well as data on the forces generated during movements. Initially it looked like the instrument collecting force data was working properly, but when they started analyzing the data, it was clear there was a problem. After four months of troubleshooting, they discovered that a malfunction in one of the connector pins corrupted their data.
A Shining Success! (20:55)
Marcie is currently working on a clinical trial comparing a movement pattern training approach to the traditional strengthening/flexibility approach to see if one better addresses hip pain. They recently completed the post-intervention assessment for one participant, and this individual went from having moderate chronic hip pain at the start of the study to having no pain at the last assessment. Marcie is blinded, so she doesn’t know which treatment the participant received, but it was still really exciting that they were able to help someone with one of the treatments in their study.
Book Recommendations (22:56)
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You That She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Most Treasured Travel (24:30)
The first time Marcie attended the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (ORSI) Meeting was one of her favorite conference experiences. The meeting was held in Seattle, and it was the first time she attended a multidisciplinary meeting that was focused on a specific diagnosis. It was fantastic to interact with basic and clinical scientists who shared a common mission. In addition, the weather was beautiful there, and Marcie was able to tack on a hiking trip to enjoy the sunshine and scenery.
Quirky Traditions and Funny Memories (27:57)
The offices of the people in Marcie’s research group are spread out, but they all meet and work together in one small lab space. Their research group is called the Rehabilitation Research for Orthopaedic Conditions (RROC). Based on their group’s acronym, they adopted “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson) as their mascot. They have a big poster of him to welcome people to the lab space, and they kept the rock theme going in naming some of their file cabinets and computers. They have a series of Flintstones-inspired computers named Pebbles, Dino, and Bamm-Bamm. These quirks are fun, but they are also useful. For example, the computer names help in everyday communication so everyone knows what computer a person is talking about.
Advice For Us All (32:33)
Perfect is often the enemy of good. If you wait until something is perfect, you might miss a great opportunity or delay getting information out that could help others. You should have high standards, but your standards shouldn’t be so high that they prevent you from getting your work done. Also, sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If you have a great idea that you are passionate about, go for it.
Marcie’s clinical expertise is musculoskeletal pain conditions, particularly of the lower extremity. She completed her post-doctoral experience at Washington University as a scholar in the Comprehensive Opportunities in Rehabilitation Research Training program (CORRT), an NIH funded program to train clinical researchers in a multidisciplinary environment. Marcie’s current research, funded by NIH, NICHD-NCMRR, is focused on the investigation of rehabilitation factors in hip disorders including femoroacetabular impingement, acetabular labral tears and osteoarthritis. She has published numerous articles related to rehabilitation of orthopedic conditions. Marcie is currently serving on the Orthopedic Section of APTA Task Force for Treatment Guidelines for the Hip, and is a member of the National Quality Forum Steering Committee related to Musculoskeletal Measures.