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Iris Hartley, MD, joined the NIH’s Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program (IETP) as a clinical fellow in 2017. Her research interests include rare metabolic bone diseases and disorders of mineral homeostasis—in particular, diseases related to aberrant fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) homeostasis. Dr. Hartley graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School and completed her internal medicine clinical training at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

We asked Dr. Hartley a few questions about herself to get to know the person behind the degree. Introducing Dr. Hartley:

Dr. Iris Hartley

Dr. Iris Hartley

Where are you from, and what influenced you to go into medicine/research?

I was born and raised in Rockville, MD, so right down the road.I decided to go into medicine because it is a career that would allow me to have a direct positive impact on others’ lives while also being intellectually challenging. I am the first physician in my family, so I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but now I could not imagine having chosen a better career.

Why did you choose this particular line of research/medicine?

In residency, I found that I enjoyed non-procedural medical specialties most. I like to understand a patient’s disease and spend time understanding the underlying physiology. Endocrinology, with its pathways and feedback loops, was an obvious choice. I was ultimately drawn to bone and mineral research through my excellent mentors, and due to an interest in the fascinating rare bone diseases that are seen frequently at the NIH.

Why the NIH? What brought you here?

I have always been interested in pursuing research. Without a research background, however, it can be difficult to complete substantive projects during residency, unless you take a year off or pursue an MD-PhD. I really wanted to go to a program with significant protected research time and proven research mentorship, so that I could determine if this was the right path for me. The opportunities and mentorship at the NIH are unbelievable, and I am so glad that I ultimately made the right decision in coming here.

What is your most memorable experience so far while at the NICHD?

My most memorable experience involved taking care of a patient with metastatic tumor-induced osteomalacia. I wrote an expanded-access protocol to treat him with a novel therapy. I truly feel that I was able to extend his life and give him and his family the support they needed in a very difficult time. And by providing successful therapy to him, we were able to learn more about his underlying disease and mineral physiology in general, which will hopefully lead to improved future treatments for others as well. Treating this patient allowed me to experience the most gratifying parts of both medicine and clinical research.