Michael V. Drake, the twenty first president of the College of California, lately sat down for a Q&A with the UC Davis Eye Heart. He oversees UC’s world-renowned college system of 10 campuses, 5 medical facilities, three nationally affiliated labs, greater than 280,000 college students and 230,000 college and employees.

Drake, who grew up in Sacramento, acquired his A.B. from Stanford College and his M.D. and residency coaching in glaucoma from UCSF. He subsequently spent greater than 25 years on the school of the UCSF College of Medication, in the end because the Steven P. Shearing Professor of Ophthalmology and senior affiliate dean.

Your first summer time job within the early ’70s was on the authentic Tower Information in Sacramento. What was that like?

I beloved working on the document retailer. All my highschool pals would come by to go to. We might play any document within the retailer, anytime. This was earlier than streaming providers, so for those who needed to listen to sure music, you needed to personal it or wait all day to listen to it on the radio. We have been amongst a small variety of individuals on the planet who might hearken to any document, at any time. It was a good way to spend the summer time. 

What music did you hearken to then, and what do you hearken to now? 

A musician I listened to then — and who I listened to this morning, driving to work — was Miles Davis. My pals on the document retailer performed rock-and-roll all day. You could possibly all the time inform when it was my flip to play one thing since you’d hear Miles. To seek out new music now, I watch whoever is acting on “Saturday Evening Dwell.” They do a superb job of curating bands.

What was your childhood like rising up in Sacramento, and the way did that affect your determination to enter well being care?

My mom labored as a social employee on the county hospital — what’s now UC Davis Medical Heart. My father was a psychiatrist and was additionally concerned in household observe major care. What was generally known as basic observe, again within the day. I knew my father labored laborious at caring for individuals, and that it meant loads to him. I grew up pondering that was a standard factor to do.

I had extreme bronchial asthma after I was rising up. I missed half of first grade resulting from my bronchial asthma. My father saved epinephrine for me within the fridge, with syringes that my dad and mom would boil on the range. It sounds archaic, but it surely was like a bit ER. After I must wake him up in the course of the evening as a result of I couldn’t breathe, my father by no means minded. He would simply pop up away from bed and take me downstairs. He would give me the treatment, and a minute later, I used to be higher.

So, I discovered two vital issues subliminally as a toddler. One is that it’s a privilege to assist individuals when they’re in want. And second, that medication might work and actually might make individuals really feel higher.

A woman and a man, both wearing white masks, give each other elbow bumps in a sunny patio setting.
UC President Michael Drake meets with UC Davis Well being employees throughout a tour of UC Davis Medical Heart in Sacramento in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did you choose ophthalmology to your residency?

I used to be a kind of medical college students who preferred each specialty I rotated by means of. Ophthalmology, although, mixed the problem-solving of drugs with the technical interventions of surgical procedure. It was a terrific steadiness of these two issues. In my rotations, I met individuals within the ophthalmology division who have been nice mentors and whom I nonetheless know at the moment.

What influenced your selection of glaucoma as a subspecialty?

In medical college, I preferred physiology as a mind-set and approaching issues. Glaucoma is a physiologic illness that has surgical and medical interventions, so it had loads of the issues I used to be enthusiastic about. I additionally preferred the general public well being demographics of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an addressable illness the place we will make an actual distinction in individuals’s lives with fashionable medication.

Did you wish to work in greater schooling while you started medical college?

Going to medical college and having a observe was my plan. What modified my thoughts was doing analysis as a medical pupil. At some point throughout a basic dialog about life and my future plans, one among my college analysis advisors, Dr. George Brecher, mentioned, “You need to take into consideration an educational profession. You could possibly see sufferers, do analysis and train. All of the stuff you like doing — all collectively.” A couple of years later, throughout residency, I requested one among my professors, Dr. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., concerning the long-term results of a cyclo-cryotherapy process we did again then for intractable glaucoma. He mentioned, “That is a terrific query. We do not actually know the reply to that. You need to do a research.”

I mentioned, “Okay,” and arrange a medical research. I introduced the outcomes at our departmental alumni assembly. Individuals have been receptive. It put it in my thoughts that when you’ve a query that nobody has the reply to, you’ll be able to research it. I by no means realized you can do this or that it was an possibility till I met individuals who have been doing it.

What excites you most about imaginative and prescient science at UC Davis and different UC institutes?

It’s been nice to see the route ophthalmology has moved. It’s technically extra refined and has additionally centered on the visible care of broad populations.

For instance, the sphere has been centered on the general public well being ramifications of visible incapacity, visible loss, and visible impairment whereas working to uplift communities broadly, working extra on preventive care. 

Dr. Carol Mangione from UCLA has performed actually nice work in wanting on the public well being impression of visible impairment and ways in which we would lean into that.

A buddy and former resident, Dr. Robert Weinreb from the Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego, has performed loads of work on psychophysics, diagnostics, and with the ability to measure the best way the visible system is performing and to watch it.

Dr. Jamie Brandt, from UC Davis, recognized the predictive worth of central corneal thickness measurements in glaucoma. World wide, central corneal thickness measurements are one other vital a part of defending the imaginative and prescient of sufferers with glaucoma.

These are only a few examples of some UC-centric work that has knowledgeable the best way that we cope with eye illness worldwide.

What’s the importance of getting the Ernest E. Tschannen Eye Institute in Sacramento?

Now we have a number of fantastic eye institutes within the UC system which have performed a terrific job. They’ve every change into a world-connected middle for imaginative and prescient analysis and advancing ophthalmology. It is terrific for this to be the case at UC Davis as effectively. UC Davis has had a terrific eye division for a few years. Having an institute within the Sacramento space will assist the neighborhood take that subsequent step ahead.

A man in a grey suit stands at a podium giving a speech in an outdoor setting.
Michael Drake on the Neil & MJ Kelly Presidential Chair in Vitreoretinal Science Investiture Ceremony, Sept. 17, 2021.

In September 2021, you visited the UC Davis Well being campus. You attended the investiture ceremony for Dr. Paul Sieving because the inaugural holder of the Neil and MJ Kelly Presidential Endowed Chair in Vitreoretinal Science. What about that go to stood out for you?

I bear in mind the sense of neighborhood. Many pals and dedicated, linked individuals got here collectively for the primary time because the pandemic began to have fun the present created for the Eye Heart. Many college on the Eye Heart have been my colleagues and pals because the very starting of my profession.

Dr. Sieving has had an incredible impression on imaginative and prescient care and imaginative and prescient science. He was contemplating many alternative establishments. We have been happy and proud that he selected UC Davis. It was fantastic to have him inducted because the inaugural chairholder and to have the ability to have fun the donors. The occasion was fantastic from all factors of view.

As president of the College of California, how have you ever seen philanthropy affect the trajectory of our mission?

One in all my nice mentors, Dr. Lloyd Hollingsworth “Holly” Smith from UCSF, mentioned one thing to me about 15 years in the past. I used to be doing a recruitment for a dean, and we have been strolling throughout the road. Holly had an aura. If it have been a film, he’d have a bit glow round him. As we have been strolling, he patted me on the shoulder and mentioned, “Simply keep in mind that the distinction between A and A+ is big.”

As a college, we will get to the A stage in lots of issues on our personal. However typically, it takes a bit increase to get from A to A+. And infrequently that increase comes from philanthropy. Our supporters examine and decide areas the place a monetary increase can flip that subsequent step into that subsequent leap.

What does it imply to you that donors like Ernest Tschannen and Neil and MJ Kelly make vital philanthropic investments to departments such because the UC Davis Eye Heart?

The philanthropists that I’ve labored with are very considerate individuals. They consider carefully about the place they wish to make their funding, they usually need it to make a distinction.

I really feel like we’re companions in serving to to make the world a greater place in a significant manner. It’s among the many actual rewards of being in this sort of work to say that people could make a distinction within the high quality of life and the standard of the neighborhood that they stay in.

What’s your biggest hope throughout your tenure as president of the College of California?

I’m fascinated by the completely different instructions we’re transferring. It is nice to see the variety of nationally and internationally vital contributions being made broadly throughout the College of California. I believe the UC Davis Eye Heart will facilitate many of those contributions.

The College of California is a really massive neighborhood of 500,000 individuals. The aim is to facilitate every of them fulfilling their human potential. And that goes for our college students, employees and college. I wish to assist create circumstances for individuals to excel. Like I discovered from my father, it’s a terrific privilege to assist others do effectively. 



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