Media Contact: Keith Hautala, 859-257-1754, x231
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 14, 2009) - The University of Kentucky announced today that it has appointed an accomplished surgeon, scientific investigator and administrator, Dr. B. Mark Evers, as director of the Markey Cancer Center and professor of surgery in the UK College of Medicine.
In addition, Evers will be appointed as physician-in-chief of the oncology service line and will hold the endowed Markey Cancer Foundation Chair.
Evers, 51, will come to UK from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, where he is professor of surgery, director of the UTMB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology and the Robertson-Poth Distinguished Chair in General Surgery.
An internationally recognized gastrointestinal and endocrine surgeon, Evers is also a prolific researcher. He has amassed hundreds of publication credits over the past two decades, comprising clinical and investigational studies as well as basic science research into the mechanisms of cancer at the cellular and molecular levels.
Evers has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the past 17 years. He is currently principal investigator or director for seven externally funded studies, including a prestigious NIH Merit Award, and is a co-investigator for five others. He will bring with him to Kentucky around $5.5 million in multi-year grant funding, including more than $1 million in current-year support. Total grant funding for the research program Evers will bring to Kentucky is expected to be about $14 million at the outset.
Coming to Kentucky presents a unique opportunity and a welcome challenge, Evers says.
"Although the overall incidence of cancer and cancer-related deaths has decreased over the last decade, cancer remains a critical health problem in Kentucky, which ranks fourth nationwide in overall cancer incidence," he said. "Kentucky has the highest lung cancer rate in the country and the second-highest incidence of colorectal cancer. Cancer mortality is also significantly higher in Kentucky than the national average. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities to lead the Markey Cancer Center and, in the process, significantly impact the care and treatment of cancer patients in the state."
The new director will help the Markey Cancer Center achieve long-term goals, including designation by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a comprehensive cancer center, says Dr. Michael Karpf, UK's executive vice president for health affairs.
"Mark Evers represents the caliber of leadership that can take Markey to new heights of excellence," Karpf said. "As we work toward achieving NCI designation over the next few years, it will be critical to have a top-tier director at the helm."
As a professor of surgery, Evers will enhance cancer education for future physicians as well as for other health care professionals and basic science researchers, says Dr. Jay Perman, dean of the UK College of Medicine.
"Dr. Evers brings a multidisciplinary approach to cancer education, with the development of a broad-based curriculum spanning multiple academic disciplines and professions," Perman said. "He will be a tremendous addition to our instructional faculty in addition to his major contributions to our research efforts."
UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. says the appointment of Evers to the cancer center's top administrative post is consistent with the progress and goals of the university as a whole.
"The recruitment of highly qualified, dynamic and talented faculty members is central to our Top 20 business plan," Todd said. "That hinges upon our ability to attract the best of the best to fill leadership roles. We could not have found a better director for the Markey Cancer Center than Dr. Mark Evers."
Sally Humphrey, chairwoman of the board of the Markey Cancer Foundation, says Evers will also help the cancer center stand out from the crowd in attracting new donors.
"A shining star at the top of our organization can act as a beacon, especially in this increasingly competitive environment for philanthropic support," Humphrey said.
Mira Ball, chairwoman of the UK Board of Trustees, says the choice of Evers is good news for all of Kentucky.
"In a state where cancer rates are significantly higher than the national average, we have to make excellence in treatment and research a priority," Ball said. "Dr. Evers brings with him a level of experience and expertise that will benefit not just the University of Kentucky, but the entire Commonwealth."
Evers will succeed Dr. Robert Means Jr., who has served as interim director of the Markey Cancer Center since its previous director, Dr. Alfred M. Cohen, announced his retirement in November 2006.
A native of Tennessee, Evers received his medical degree, summa cum laude, at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. He completed his residency training in general surgery at the University of Louisville in 1988, followed by a research fellowship in gastrointestinal physiology at UTMB. Since joining the UTMB faculty in 1990, Evers has held numerous administrative leadership posts and professorships in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Evers sits on the editorial boards of four peer-reviewed scientific publications, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is an associate editor of the Sabiston Textbook of Surgery (Courtney Townsend, editor). He is a director of the American Board of Surgery, past-president of the Society of University Surgeons (SUS) and current president of the SUS Foundation.
In addition, Evers was recently elected secretary of the Southern Surgical Association. He is also an elected member of the prestigious American Society for Clinical Investigation. He has directly mentored more than 40 junior faculty, residents, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students and is the director of an NIH training grant.
Evers lives with his wife, Karen Stroup Evers, a registered pharmacist, and their 13-year-old son, Benjamin. The couple also have a daughter, Lauren, 19, who is a student at Washington University in St. Louis.