Dr. Martina Bebin fights for those unable to fight for themselves – in the fight for their lives. As a professor of neurology at UAB and a pediatric neurologist at North Alabama Children’s Specialists in Huntsville, Dr. Bebin spends her days caring for the youngest and most impressionable minds in our state.
She strives to make a difference in the future of neurological care. Serving on the Board of Directors for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and as the co-director of the UAB Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) clinic, Dr. Bebin oversees the comprehensive care of individuals suffering from a rare, multi-system genetic disease that causes benign tumors to form in vital organs.
Despite the rarity of the disease, Dr. Bebin makes it one of her missions to contribute to advances in treatment for the 50,000 individuals in the United States and more than one million worldwide diagnosed with TSC.
In 2013, Dr. Bebin’s contribution to TSC research earned her the Manual R. Gomez award, an annual honor presented to the individual who has made significant breakthroughs in TSC research, from the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.
The award was particularly special for Dr. Bebin. Dr. Gomez was instrumental in her career by encouraging her pursuit of pediatric neurology and served as her mentor during her residency at the Mayo Clinic.
“I have had tremendous mentors, specifically, Dr. Manuel Gomez, Dr. Fritz Dreifuss and Dr. David Standaert, throughout my career that provided me with unique opportunities and the encouragement to pursue clinical research ideas that could have tremendous impact for thousands of children with neurologic disabilities,” Bebin told Yellowhammer News.
In addition to her incredible work with TSC, Dr. Bebin is a member of the Department of Neurology and Epilepsy Center at UAB and a member of the Child Neurology Society Legislative Affairs Committee. Her primary research interest is the early identification of epilepsy in infants, particularly discovering new therapies and treatments for these children.
Most recently, Dr. Bebin has collaborated with HudsonAlpha to pinpoint a previously unknown case of a serious seizure disorder most common in babies, potentially opening the door to new diagnostic and treatment options for infants who show signs of epilepsy.
Dr. Bebin and other scientists worked to assemble enough cases to link their discoveries. The initial patient was enrolled in HudsonAlpha’s Clinical Exploratory Research (CSER) project. The project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to identify the genetic causes of undiagnosed conditions.
Dr. Bebin recognizes the value of her UAB family for playing a large part in her path. When asked what factors contributed to her success she states, “The value of being on faculty at UAB for 25 years and developing the collaborative research efforts across an array of research disciplines within UAB, HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology and TSC Clinical Consortium.”
Outside of Dr. Bebin’s incredible contributions to neurology, she was a five-time All-American member of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Women’s Swimming Team, where she obtained her undergraduate degree.
Dr. Bebin later earned her medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, her MPA from Harvard University, and completed her residency work at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.
She also attributes her career achievements to a specific milestone on her educational journey. Bebin took a mid-career step outside of medicine to pursue a Master’s degree at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. This translated into a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship in the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee under the leadership of then Chairman Senator Mike Enzi.
“This step allowed me to develop a 360-degree perspective of healthcare and I can better serve my patients,” Bebin stated.
In addition to her skill in swimming, Dr. Bebin has been a “Vizsla enthusiast for over 20 years and loves all aspects of dog sports.” She and her husband, Rick, enjoy spending time hunting with their 2 Vizsla in North Alabama.
When asked about her support system, Dr. Bebin reflected on being told to ‘aim high and never give up’ by her parents. “My fabulous parents provided structure, discipline and the steadfast encouragement to pursue [my] passions in life with humility and empathy,” she said.
Her love for her family is evident and Dr. Bebin values the true partnership she finds in her closest relationships, “Fred Bickley is my husband of over 20 years and we appreciate and encourage each other in our pursuits. My lovely sister, Mary Ellen Warner, is the best source of support, love and encyclopedic resource for all my questions.”
Dr. Bebin is grateful to be recognized among such an incredible group of women and looks forward to continuing her work on behalf of Alabama’s children.
“This is a tremendous honor and a wonderful surprise to be recognized with this group of accomplished women in our state. It is also a great motivator to continue to pursue my efforts to improve the lives of children in Alabama,” she said.
Yellowhammer News is proud to name Dr. Martina Bebin a 2019 Woman of Impact.
The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.
Erin Brown Hollis is an author and speaker. Her latest book, The Remarkable Housewives of the Bible is available on Amazon. Follow Erin on Instagram @ErinBrownHollis ; Facebook @ErinBrownHollis ; or Twitter @ErinBrownHollis.