Donald M. Marcus, MD

Founding Fellow
Board of Directors (Emeritus)

Houston, Texas, USA

For the last decade, Donald Marcus, MD, has devoted himself to educating health professionals and the public about the empty claims and hazards of “alternative medicine,” especially herbal medicines and so-called “dietary supplements.”

Dr Marcus is a rheumatologist and Professor of Medicine and Immunology Emeritus at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is a Master of the American College of Rheumatology and has served as director of Rheumatology Sections at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at Baylor. He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was trained in Internal Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian and Strong Memorial Hospitals, and in immunology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia.

A great deal of Dr Marcus’s research was at the interface of immunology and glycosphingolipid chemistry/biochemistry. His research group used immunological tools to study the structure of human blood group antigens, and the cellular distribution and immunogenicity of glycosphingolipids. Subsequently they analyzed the idiotypes, immunoglobulin gene usage and structure-function of anti-carbohydrate anibodies. Another area of interest was the role of intermediate filaments of the cytoskeleton in modulating the synthesis of glycolipids.

For his studies of the immunochemistry of blood groups, Dr Marcus received the Karl Landsteiner Memorial Award of the American Association of Blood Banks and the Philip Levine Award of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. He has been elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He has served on grant review groups of National Institutes of Health and of private foundations, and on the editorial boards of scientific and clinical journals.

Dr Marcus served on ISM’s board of directors during its first year (2009-2010).

Selected Publications:

  • “A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee: effects of sham acupuncture and provider communication style” (with ME Suarez-Almazor, C Looney, Y Liu, V Cox, K Pietz & R Street), Arthritis Care & Research, 2010; in press.
  • “Education about complementary and alternative medicine,” Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2010 Jun 14; 7(1):1-2.
  • “How good is the evidence in evidence-based integrative medicine?” (with L McCullough), Academic Medicine, 2009 Sep; 84(9):1229-1234. [abstract]
  • “A debate: homeopathy – quackery or a key to the future of medicine?” (with PW Gold, R Roy, SP Novella, DM Marcus, IR Bell, N Davidovitch & A Saine), Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2008, 14(1): 9–15. [DOI] [excerpt]; reprinted in Homeopathy, 2008; 97(1):28–33. [DOI] This is an edited transcript of a debate held at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA on 2007 Oct 25. Homeopathy is a widely used but controversial form of complementary and alternative medicine. Six distinguished international speakers, including advocates and skeptics concerning homeopathy, debated the plausibility, theoretical principles, clinical and basic research evidence, ethical and other issues surrounding homeopathy.
  • Limitations of ‘evidence-based indications’ for herbs” (with AP Grollman), Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2007 Nov; 82(11):1433.
  • [Review of] Natural Causes: Death Lies, and Politics in America’s Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry, by Dan Hurley,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2007 Jun 21; 356(25):2659. [extract]
  • Review for NCCAM is overdue,” with AP Grollman, Science, 2006 Jul 21; 313 (5785):301-302 [DOI]; discussion, 2006 Nov 17; 314(5802):1083-1084. [DOI]
  • “A commentary on the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics position statement on dietary supplement safety and regulation,” Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2005 Aug; 78(2):114-117. [DOI]
  • “Do no harm: avoidance of herbal medicines during pregnancy” (with WR Snodgrass), Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2005 May; 105(5 pt1):1119-1122. [abstract]
  • “A review of alternative therapies for treatment of menopausal symptoms” (with P Amato), Climacteric, 2003 Dec 1; 6(4):278-284 [abstract]; discussion, 265-267.
  • “Ephedra-free is not danger-free” (with AP Grollman & SM Wolfe), Science, 2003 Sep 19; 301(5640):1669-1670. [DOI]
  • “Una crítica de los argumentos filosóficos y culturales utilizados para justificar la medicina alternativa [A critique of philosophical and cultural arguments used to support alternative medicine],” Humanitas, 2003; 1(2):163-170. [in Spanish] [abstract]
  • “Botanical medicines: the need for new regulations” (with AP Grollman), New England Journal of Medicine, 2002 Dec 19; 347(25):2073-2076. [extract]
  • “Integrative medicine is a Trojan horse,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 2002 Nov 11; 162(20):2381-2383. [extract]
  • “Alternative medicine and the Arthritis Foundation,” Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2002, 47(1):5-7. [DOI]
  • “Is there a role for ginger in the treatment of osteoarthritis?” (with ME Suarez-Almazor), Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2001 Nov; 44(11):2461-2462. [DOI]
  • “How should Alternative Medicine be taught to medical students and physicians?” Academic Medicine, 2001 Mar; 76(3):224-229 [abstract]

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