Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., became senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at UAB on Oct. 15, 2013. Dr. Vickers, a member of the Institute of Medicine, is a world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher, pioneer in health disparities research and a native of Alabama.
As dean, Dr. Vickers leads the medical school’s main campus in Birmingham and the regional campuses in Montgomery, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. He also is part of UAB Medicine’s joint operational leadership (JOL) team with UAB Health System Chief Executive Officer Will Ferniany, Ph.D., and James Bonner, M.D., president of the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, the School of Medicine faculty-physician practice group. The JOL steers operations and finances for all UAB Hospital and ambulatory medical services, including The Kirklin Clinic and the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital.
Dr. Vickers earned baccalaureate and medical degrees from the Johns Hopkins University and completed surgical training there, including a chief residency. He completed two summer post-graduate research fellowships with the National Institutes of Health and training at John Radcliffe Hospital of Oxford University, England and was an instructor of surgery at Hopkins for one year. In 1994 he joined the UAB faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery. From 2000 to 2006 he directed the section of gastrointestinal surgery. During his first tenure at UAB Dr. Vickers received numerous honors, including the Argus Society for Excellence in Teaching Award numerous times, the Best Clinical Professor award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. From 1995 to 1999 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Research Fellow. In 2000 he became the first member of the faculty chosen by students as commencement speaker. In 2006 Dr. Vickers became the Jay Phillips Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he served until his return to UAB in 2013.
Dr. Vickers continues to see patients and conduct research. His major research interests include gene therapy as an application in the treatment of pancreatobiliary tumors, the role of growth factors and receptors in the oncogenesis of pancreatic cancer, the implications of FAS expressions and Tamoxifen in the growth and treatment of cholangiocarcinoma, assessment of clinical outcomes in the surgical treatment of pancreatobiliary tumors and the role of death receptors in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
While at Minnesota, Dr. Vickers’ lab was instrumental in the development of an injectable cancer drug, Minnelide, which entered phase 1 testing in September 2013. Dr. Vickers has a financial interest in the pharmaceutical company licensed to develop the drug, Minneamrita Therapeutics LLC.
With Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D., Dr. Vickers is co-principal investigator for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Pancreatic Cancer. With James Shikany, Ph.D., he is co-principal investigator of a $13.5 million grant to create the National Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for African-American Men’s Health. The NTCC is a collaborative effort with 100 Black Men of America Inc., the National USA Foundation Inc. and the National Football League to create community partnerships to design, deliver and evaluate interventions targeting the four most significant causes of death and disease across the lifespan of African-American men and boys: unintentional and violence-related injury, cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke.
Dr. Vickers was born in Demopolis, Ala., and grew up in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. He and his wife Janice Vickers, who also is from Alabama, have been married since 1988; they have four children: Lauren, Adrienne, Lydia and Benjamin.