“From an early age I have always been fascinated trying to understand how body systems interact. In second grade, for instance, I was doing experiments in building heart muscles and my mother and neighbors taught me about dissection. In seventh grade I knew I wanted to be an endocrinologist, especially after an experiment in which I increased the fertility of mice ten-fold by changing their endocrines.”
“PIONEERING IN UNDERSTANDING AND TREATING OSTEOPOROSIS”
For more than twenty years, Rebecca Jackson has been committed to examining-and finding solutions to-women's health issues, especially osteoporosis, as Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH-15) noted in nominating her to be a Local Legend of Medicine: "Dr. Jackson is a strong advocate for women's health issues...and a major focus of her effort has been in looking at treatment options for postmenopausal osteoporosis."
Jackson is Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Ohio State University. Her interest in bone health began with an informal conversation with an OSU hospital administrator about a new technique for measuring bone density, called dual photon absorptiometry, that eventually led to her developing a full-blown research program in osteoporosis and a slew of pioneering research papers.
"We published one of the first studies to show that weight lifting rather than walking was more beneficial to maintaining bone density; that the ideal exercise to stimulate bone formation is force rather than repetition," Jackson recalls. She and her colleagues have also been involved in one of the landmark studies examining bisphosphonates, a new class of medications for treating postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Jackson has also been a key researcher in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Women's Health Initiative, a major, collaborative, long-term research study. Her particular focus is on the factors contributing to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis, which is a common, disabling condition of both women and men in middle age and later life.
Spending about thirty percent of her time as a clinician and seventy percent as a researcher, she says that when questions arise when she is examining patients, "I really like the fact that perhaps we can develop a research study that might provide some answers." She especially enjoys collaborating with scientists from several disciplines "because we can think through medical problems from so many different perspectives."
When she is not caring for patients or working away on her latest research project, Jackson devotes much of her spare time to therapeutic horseback riding. "We have two children and our daughter has multiple handicaps," she explains. "We started out giving our daughter horse back riding lessons once every two weeks, then every week, then twice a week. Finally I said to my husband, let's buy a barn." Today, the Jacksons are the proud owners of seven Arabian horses-and a barn full of chores!
Jackson, who suffered a spinal cord injury in the late 1970's and has used a wheelchair ever since, also admits to being a rabid Ohio State Buckeye football fan. "It's an obsession, a sickness, a disease," she laughs, confessing that during a 2002 NIH consensus conference on the role of hormones in women's health, when a repairman had to repair a faulty projector during her presentation, she took the opportunity to exhort her audience of fellow scientists and researchers to cheer for the Buckeyes in their upcoming NCAA national championship game.
Naturally, the Buckeyes won.
Wins American Medical Women's Association Award for Academic Excellence
Recognized with the Disabled Professional Woman of the Year Award, Pilot Club
Elected to Ohio Women's Hall of Fame
Profiled in "200 Women, 200 Years: Ohio Women of the Year"
Ohio State University
Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Metabolic Bone Disease