UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 19

Why UAB ?
Herbert Chen , M . D ., has been asked that question often since joining the university ’ s faculty in 2015 . And as he will admit , he never anticipated his career path leading him to Birmingham .
“ I had been to UAB only once before , when I was a visiting professor in 2012 ,” Dr . Chen says . “ I knew several faculty members and that it was a fantastic institution , but that was all I knew .”
When Kirby Bland , M . D ., announced he was retiring as chair of the UAB Department of Surgery in 2014 , the university launched a national search for his replacement . At the time , Dr . Chen was serving as the chair of the division of general surgery and a professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin . Knowing UAB ’ s reputation as a national leader in surgery , Dr . Chen was interested in the position , but his wife Harriet was not enthusiastic about moving to Alabama .
That ’ s when Dr . Chen was contacted by Selwyn Vickers , M . D ., dean of the UAB School of Medicine , and who had trained with Dr . Chen at Johns Hopkins . “ He encouraged me to bring my wife down here since she had never been to Alabama before ,” Dr . Chen recalls . “ After she was here for a day , she loved it . We didn ’ t think we ’ d ever live here , nor did we think we ’ d be so happy here .”
There were a number of factors that attracted Dr . Chen to UAB , including it being home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center . UAB ’ s longstanding tradition of surgical advancements was also appealing and an indicator of potential . “ UAB has a history of having an extremely academically , clinically and educationally strong department of surgery ,” he says . “ UAB was one of the birthplaces of cardiac surgery . The things that have happened here in surgery have been amazing in the past , and past accomplishments can reflect what an institution is capable of and where it can go in the future . I think this department has the great capacity to continue to make a number of contributions to American surgery .”
Finding a Path
Growing up in central Wisconsin , Dr . Chen was exposed to medicine at an early age . His father was an orthopedic surgeon , and most of their family friends were physicians . “ I can ’ t remember a time where I didn ’ t think I wanted to be a physician . Because of my dad being a surgeon and having the opportunity to be in the operating room with him , I knew I wanted to pursue some type of surgical specialty .”
That pursuit led Dr . Chen to Stanford University , where he received his bachelor ’ s degree with honors in biological sciences in 1988 . He went on to medical school at Duke University , and then completed his residency and fellowships at Johns Hopkins before returning to Wisconsin . His interest in academic surgery was solidified when , as a medical student , he was able to work with surgical oncologists in both the laboratory and patient care settings . His research fellowship at Johns Hopkins eventually led to his interest in endocrine cancers , which are cancers that affect the thyroid , adrenal , pancreas and parathyroid glands .
“ Our lab is trying to identify what problems exist for patients with these cancers , understand what the hurdles are and study basic questions in the laboratory that will help us to translate these observations into potential treatments for patients ,” Dr . Chen says . “ We have been very successful in studying the basic mechanisms that allow these cancers to spread and then designing therapies to prevent that .”
While at Wisconsin , Dr . Chen and his team conducted at least five clinical trials based on this work , and he hopes to do the same at UAB .
A Unique Opportunity
Being at an academic medical center such as UAB presents a unique opportunity for research and patient care , says Dr . Chen , who adds that patient care and actual time spent in the operating room are just a fraction of what a surgeon at UAB does .
“ A UAB surgeon performs some of the most complex difficult operations there are , but we are
“ A UAB surgeon performs some of the most complex difficult operations there are , but we are often asked to see patient who have very difficult problems – advanced cancers , extremely large tumors , people who have exhausted all other therapies .”
# K N O W U A B C C C • U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 17
Why UAB? Herbert Chen, M.D., has been asked that question often since joining the university’s faculty in 2015. And as he will admit, he never anticipated his career path leading him to Birmingham. “I had been to UAB only once before, when I was a visiting professor in 2012,” Dr. Chen says. “I knew several faculty members and that it was a fantastic institution, but that was all I knew.” When Kirby Bland, M.D., announced he was retiring as chair of the UAB Department of Surgery in 2014, the university launched a national search for his replacement. At the time, Dr. Chen was serving as the chair of the division of general surgery and a professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin. Knowing UAB’s reputation as a national leader in surgery, Dr. Chen was interested in the position, but his wife Harriet was not enthusiastic about moving to Alabama. That’s when Dr. Chen was contacted by Selwyn Vickers, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Medicine, and who had trained with Dr. Chen at Johns Hopkins. “He encouraged me to bring my wife down here since she had never been to Alabama before,” Dr. Chen recalls. “After she was here for a day, she loved it. We didn’t think we’d ever live here, nor did we think we’d be so happy here.” There were a number of factors that attracted Dr. Chen to UAB, including it being home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. UAB’s longstanding tradition of surgical advancements was also appealing and an indicator of potential. “UAB has a history of having an extremely academically, clinically and educationally strong department of surgery,” he says. “UAB was one of the birthplaces of cardiac surgery. The things that have happened here in surgery have been amazing in the past, and past accomplishments can reflect what an institution is capable of and where it can go in the future. I think this department has the great capacity to continue to make a number of contributions to American surgery.” Finding a Path Growing up in central Wisconsin, Dr. Chen was exposed to medicine at an early age. His father was an orthopedic surgeon, and most of their family friends were physicians. “I can’t remember a time where I didn’t think I wanted to be a physician. Because of my dad being a surgeon and having the opportunity to be in the operating room with him, I knew I wanted to pursue some type of surgical specialty.” That pursuit led Dr. Chen to Stanford University, where he received his bachelor’s degree with honors in biological sciences in 1988. He went on to medical school at Duke University, and then completed his residency and fellowships at Johns Hopkins before returning to Wisconsin. His interest in academic surgery was solidified when, as a medical student, he was able to work with surgical oncolog ́Ѡ)ѡɅѽ䁅ѥЁɔ͕ѥ̸!́ɕ͕ɍ)͡Ё)́!ٕ́Յ䁱Ѽ)ѕɕЁɥ̰ݡɔ́ѡ)Ёѡѡɽɕɕ́Ʌѡɽ)̸+q=ȁ́她ѼѥݡЁɽ́)ȁѥ́ݥѠѡ͔̰չхݡЁѡ)ɑ́ɔՑ䁉ͥՕѥ́ѡɅѽ)ѡЁݥ́ѼɅͱєѡ͔͕مѥ́Ѽ)ѕѥɕѵ́ȁѥ̳tȸ ̸ͅ+q]ٕٔՍ͙հՑ她ѡͥ)͵́ѡЁ܁ѡ͔́Ѽɕ)ѡͥѡɅ́ѼɕٕЁѡлt)]Ё]͍ͥȸ ́ѕ)ՍѕЁЁٔɥ͕́ѡ)ݽɬ́ѼѡͅЁU(+qUɝ()UՔ=չ()ݡٔ() ЁѕȁՍ́U)ɕ͕́չՔչ䁙ȁɕ͕ɍѥ)ɔ́ͅȸ ݡ́ѡЁѥЁɔ)ՅѥЁѡɅѥɽɔЁ)ɅѥݡЁɝЁU̸+qUɝəɵ́ͽѡ)ձЁɅѥ́ѡɔɔЁݔɔ((,8<\T (+()əɵ́ͽ)ѡ)ձ)Ʌѥ́ѡɔ)ɔЁݔɔ)ѕͭѼ)͕ѥЁݡ)ٕٔ䁑ձ)ɽ̃L)م̰)ɕ䁱ɝ)յ̰)ᡅѕ)ѡȁѡɅ̻t()TT 8 H((((0