Dr. Emmanuel Zervos named to Raab Professorship

Mary Raab presented Emmanuel Zervos with the Raab Professorship of Adult Oncology at a celebration Thursday. (Photos by Candace Darden)

Mary Raab presented Emmanuel Zervos with the Raab Professorship of Adult Oncology at a celebration Thursday. (Photos by Candace Darden)

After years of preparation, an endowed professorship through the East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation was conferred on its first recipient Thursday at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville.

Dr. Emmanuel Zervos was named the inaugural Raab Professor of Adult Oncology. Zervos is a surgical oncologist at the Brody School of Medicine, the vice chair of academic affairs for ECU’s Department of Surgery, and chief of surgical oncology at Vidant Medical Center. Dr. Zervos has dedicated his career to the study and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The professorship is named for Drs. Mary and Spencer Raab, who played a pivotal role in establishing the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center and remain iconic figures in the fight against cancer for patients in eastern North Carolina. Mary Raab joined the ECU oncology department in 1977, eventually becoming the first female chief of medical staff at what is now Vidant Medical Center. Spencer Raab led the first Division of Hematology/Oncology until his death from cancer in 1993. The Raab professorship was established that same year, but was not awarded to anyone until this week.

“We’ve been waiting for the right time and this is absolutely the right time, because of Dr. Zervos,” Mary Raab said. “He truly exemplifies the individual we wanted to fulfil the professorship in many ways through his dedication to patient care, his teaching, his mentoring and his research.”

Emmanuel Zervos accepts the Raab Professorship at a celebration at the East Carolina Heart Institute Thursday. 

Emmanuel Zervos accepts the Raab Professorship at a celebration at the East Carolina Heart Institute Thursday.

Being named to a professorship is both an honor to the named holder of the appointment and also an enduring tribute to the donor who establishes it. The Raab Professorship is conferred upon a Brody School of Medicine faculty member who works closely with and has both adult clinical and research duties associated with the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. Appointments are made by the Dean of the Brody School of Medicine in consultation with the director of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center and the chair of the department of oncology. Professors are appointed to a five-year term with the ability to renew the professorship for one or more successive terms.

Recognizing the continued contributions of senior-level faculty as well as providing funds to push the frontiers of their scholarship are key functions of the endowed positions. The funds can propel research, extend outreach and support future faculty achievements.

Zervos said he was surprised to be named to the professorship but was “extremely humble and grateful to the Raab family.”

“It’s a singular honor for any academic,” he added.

Zervos said he has no plans on how he will use his professorship funds yet, but hopes it will help enhance the educational mission of the cancer program as well as the facilitation of patient care.

Endowed professorships are also crucial for recruiting and retaining the highest-quality faculty, Mary Raab said, thus ensuring ECU has the best minds that in turn attract the best students. It’s also a way to acknowledge the years of effort that she and Spencer Raab put in to advance cancer treatments in North Carolina.

“I hope that people will recognize my and Spencer’s contributions over the years,and I just want people to know that where we are today depends on what so many other people did in the past,” she said. “I hope it will be a reminder to everybody that the hard work paid off and we can continue to build on what we have and hopefully in the future have more professorships.”

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications