Meet Dr. Enrique Alvarez

Alvarez Enrique faculty pic 2013This month, Dr. Alvarez became the newest member of the Rocky Mountain MS Center at Anschutz Medical Campus team—making him the seventh fellowship-trained MS specialist on staff.

Please tell us about yourself:
I went to medical school here (Denver, CO), and did my MD/PhD through the Medical Scientists Training Program (MSTP). My wife was also in the program; that’s where we met. We were offset by a year, so I did my internship here for general internal medicine. After, I did a three-year neurology residency at Washington University in St. Louis and then continued on with an MS fellowship. My wife did a Medicine residency and a Rheumatology fellowship. We then started to look around at jobs and are so happy they had us back in Denver—we love it here. We’ve got two kids: a 4 month old and a two and a half year old. My free time is mostly spent with my family and my golden retriever, Daisy. 

Do you have a specialty interest in terms of your MS practice?
I’m interested in using biomarkers—which can be MRI markers, clinical information, proteins in a spinal fluid or blood—to customize treatments better and figure out what medicine a patient should be on. 

How do you think MS care has changed since you began to practice?
When I started my fellowship—three years ago—there were no oral drugs. Today we have three. At that time we couldn’t stratify patients for Tysabri. We knew about time—that it was probably safe in the first year—but we didn’t know much about the JC test or a history of immunosuppression. The use of rituximab is also a change—specifically here at Anschutz—as is our aggressive approach to treating patients. 

Where do you think MS treatment and research will be in the next 10 years?
Hopefully we’ll start seeing a bigger emphasis on progressive disease. I’m also hoping that we’ll have a better idea of who’s going to respond to which treatment, so that we don’t have to keep trying different ones. I’m hopeful that we might even have an MS test, so that when somebody comes in we can say, “Yes, you have MS” with a blood test or something that’s more specific to MS. I think 10 years is probably going to be a little bit short for a cure. I’m hopeful that it’ll come sometime in my lifetime, but probably farther down the line.