A finalist for the chancellor's post at the University of Nebraska Medical Center helped his medical school become a comprehensive cancer center, a designation sought by leaders at UNMC.
Dr. Fred Meyers, a cancer specialist and executive associate dean at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, is scheduled to give a public presentation at 4 p.m. today in Room 1002 of the Durham Research Center near 45th and Emile Streets. He is the first of four finalists to visit the UNMC campus for interviews. The four are seeking to replace Dr. Harold Maurer, who has served as UNMC chancellor since 1998.
Meyers, 62, “has been involved in cancer research and clinical care for decades here,” said Dr. Tom Nesbitt, UC Davis' interim vice chancellor of human health sciences and interim medical school dean. “He played a big role” in the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center achieving the comprehensive designation from the National Cancer Institute, Nesbitt said.
Meyers and his wife, Linda, have been in Omaha since this weekend. Meyers has worked in his current job — which he described as equivalent to the school's chief operating officer — since 2009. Before that he was chairman of the department of internal medicine since 1997. He has taught at the UC Davis medical school since 1982.
A colleague once described Meyers as “somebody you want with you in an earthquake,” said Dr. James Goodnight, associate dean for clinical affairs at the UC Davis med school. “He's calm in the face of multiple stresses,” said Goodnight, who has worked with Meyers for 30 years. “He has the ability to organize and deal with multiple priorities and stay calm.”
Dr. Mark Henderson, the associate dean of admissions for the UC Davis med school, called Meyers “a man of the people. He stays connected to the ground troops, if you will.”
Henderson's office used to be next to Meyers'. “His door really is open, meaning you could walk into” the office, Henderson said. “Anyone could, from one of the students to one of the physicians. That, to me, kind of embodies what kind of a leader he is.”
Dr. Ralph deVere White, the head of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, said he hopes Meyers doesn't get the UNMC job “because I hope we keep him here.”
“Fred is extraordinarily bright, he has an extraordinary breadth of understanding. He's a marvelous clinician,” deVere White said. “He's incredibly good at putting teams of people together. He is dedicated to and has demonstrated that dedication to education. He's a great fundraiser. ... What's not to like?”
Meyers was criticized by the academic freedom committee of the UC Davis Academic Senate in late 2010 after he sent an email to a professor criticizing him and threatening his teaching and administrative assignments. The professor said the email was in response to a newspaper opinion piece that he had co-written that criticized a UC Davis seminar on men's health, and the senate unanimously called for Meyers and others to apologize.
Meyers said the email was in response to “a long-standing issue we were working to resolve.” A three-member review committee found that the email had been sent a day before the professor's opinion piece was published.
“Everybody said I didn't do anything wrong,” Meyers said.
He noted that he and the professor remain friends and they agree on the content of the opinion piece, which criticized the broad use of prostate-specific antigen testing for prostate cancer.
Meyers is the principal investigator on three grants related to science education, graduate education and a program that will provide support to enhance training in stem-cell biology. He also is an advocate for hospice and palliative care and was one of two founding directors of the UC Davis hospice program.
Meyers and his wife have a 25-year-old son who is earning a Ph.D. in cancer epidemiology at UCLA. Meyers' parents both were physicians — his mother was a family practice doctor and his father was a professor of pharmacology at the University of San Francisco and helped found the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco.
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