How Dr. Ellen Marmur Became A Top NYC Dermatologist
Dermatologists are everywhere, but not all skin-care doctors are as health-holistic and product conscious as NYC-based dermatologist and founder of Marmur Metamorphosis (known as MMSkincare on Instagram), Dr. Ellen Marmur. We sat down with Dr. Marmur to learn all about her education, career as a dermatologist and her favorite products of the moment. Cue: skin-care career dreams.
How did you get started in dermatology? What was your first job in the field?
In college, I was a philosophy and Japanese major. It wasn’t until I led survival canoe trips in Minnesota that I realized that I really wanted to help people as a physician. From there, I went to UC Berkeley and completed my pre-med classes while working on HIV vaccines at a biotech company, plus working on retrovirus research at the Department of Public Health. When I started med school at 25, I thought that I’d go into women’s health. I had never heard of dermatology until the last moment of my third-year rotations, when one of the doctors I worked with suggested I look into it. Luckily, I took an elective in dermatology and fell in love. I remember sitting outside in the sunshine on the grass with my dermatology class, discussing a visual encyclopedia of the body; for example, dandruff is a marker of early onset Parkinson’s disease. Learning about how subtle signs on the skin can unveil really important internal diseases was the most eye-opening experience of my life.
I loved my intense internship in internal medicine at Mount Sinai, plus three years at Cornell for my dermatology residency. Then, I completed a fellowship at Mount Sinai in Mohs Surgery, laser, and cosmetic surgery under the mentorship of Dr. David Goldberg. I was the first woman Chief of Dermatologic Surgery at Mount Sinai, the first Vice Chair of Dermatologic Surgery in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai, and the first dermatologist to become a part of the Department of Genomic Sciences.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Happily every day is a whirlwind mixture of patients of all ages with challenging concerns from rashes to skin cancers to cosmetic needs — but always with intriguing and inspiring real life stories from each person. I feel like I work in a Renaissance salon where the most interesting people enrich my mind with their insights daily. Plus, they are so very grateful when I am able to help them. I just received a thank you for encouraging a patient to have a brain MRI due to eye pain, and he found he'd suffered an undiagnosed stroke. Dermatology encompasses much more than just the dynamic organ of the skin. It’s about the entire person, too.
How has working in dermatology impacted your life, and what moment in your career are you most proud of?
I love my work and that is such an incredible feeling! Everyday is unpredictable and gratifying. The best part of this whole journey is when patients come back to me with positive feedback. They tell me how much better they feel. Whether it be medical or cosmetic treatments, restoring someone's health and wellbeing is the ultimate.
What's your holy-grail skin-care ingredient and why?
MMSkincare is all about transformation of your approach to your skin. All of our ingredients in the Dynamic Essence contain wild indigo to fight inflammation and help your body adapt to environmental stress. Think of adaptogens as chill pills for your skin: They cope with external stress, so your skin can get busy building collagen and repairing damage. They also contain photodynamic seaweed and plankton extracts and pre- and probiotics.
If you weren't a dermatologist, what would you be doing?
I'd be a photographer or a rabbi or a whale-watching guide in Maui.
What's your favorite skin-care product at the moment?
I love the Marmur Metamorphosis Revive Serum. It is so hydrating, which I need during the winter months.
What's your advice to aspiring dermatologists?
Work harder than anyone you know at every opportunity. Do research, ask questions, don't just memorize — put it all together with a global approach to wellness.
What does beauty and taking care of your skin mean to you?
Beauty and taking care of your skin is more than protecting and preserving your skin. Self care is the ultimate health care. I find my zone everyday and appreciate the beauty in people, in nature, in balance, in song, in stories and in my family. This approach to beauty and skin is all about making this lifetime matter the most and doing our best to make our world truly a bit better.