Looking back, said the Berrie Center’s Jackie Salas-Spiegel, MD, an adult endocrinologist who works with people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, it may have been her grandmother who provided her the inspiration to become a doctor. “She had type 2 diabetes and I remember being witness to the whole thing—the boiling of the syringes and large needles. Some young children would have shied away, but I thought it was very interesting.” Born in New York and raised in South America, Dr. Salas’s parents were both lawyers (her mother went to law school with Fidel Castro) who emigrated from Cuba to Venezuela during the Cuban Revolution. She graduated from high school at 16—and seven years later, Dr. Jacqueline Salas received her MD from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas.
She always knew she wanted to finish her medical studies in the United States, where she was already a citizen because she was born here. Dr. Salas, bilingual since birth, completed her internal medicine training in New York and her fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. “I’ve been seeing some of my patients for 15 years, and following them through the arcs of life,” she said.
Dr. Salas, is an advocate for better health care for minorities (“minorities are the disproportionate majority,” of people with type 2 diabetes, she said) and an outspoken critic on the various social issues and public health policies that work against African American and Latino populations—like the movement to eliminate the ban on supersized sugary soft drinks.”
Married to an American (they are raising their 12-year-old daughter in Leonia, NJ), Dr. Salas is one of the 5 adult endocrinologists who treats people at the Berrie Center with both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Her patients and peers see her as a wonderful coach and advocate. “I want my patients to know that I know how hard it is to have diabetes—and that I know that what we ask them to do to stay healthy is difficult. I also know that they are trying and that this is a constant condition from which there are no days off.”