Cardiovascular anesthesiologist and international humanitarian honored for public service

Dr. Fleming with young Vietnamese patient © UC Regents
Anesthesiologist Neal Fleming has donated his time to help repair facial deformities among children in Third-World nations.

Neal Fleming, a UC Davis anesthesiologist who donates time to repair facial deformities in children living in Third-World nations, has been selected as a recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award by the Public Service Committee of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate of the University of California.

A professor of clinical anesthesia and director of cardiovascular and thoracic anesthesiology, Fleming conducts leading-edge research focused on improving knowledge of neuromuscular physiology and on the use of new monitors to reduce anesthesia-related complications following surgery. For more than a decade, he has been a volunteer anesthesiologist with Rotaplast International, a humanitarian organization dedicated to eliminating untreated cleft lip and palate deformities in children throughout the world.

“Dr. Fleming defines what it means to be a leader in medicine and public service on a global scale,” said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. “He is reaching out to improve health in our community and in countries where his expertise is desperately needed, and he is a strong role model for the nation’s future health leaders in advancing the well-being of patients everywhere.”

Fleming’s work for Rotaplast has taken him to more than 10 countries, including Venezuela, Vietnam, Romania and Nepal. In May, he will volunteer with his daughter, who is a nurse, in Bangladesh — their first humanitarian trip together.

Fleming served on Rotaplast’s board of directors for two terms, guiding the growth of the organization and assuring the participation of experienced anesthesiologists. As a member of its medical committee and its chief anesthesiologist, he developed and promoted guidelines for maintaining First-World quality of care in Third-World settings.

As vice chair of education for his department at UC Davis, Fleming campaigned to provide senior anesthesiology residents with the opportunity to participate in Rotaplast outreach as part of their professional education, exposing them at the earliest stages of their careers to the rewards of volunteer medical care and expanding their capacities as physicians. He established a program that pairs experienced faculty with early-career physicians or nurses to work together on humanitarian medical teams, a training model that other universities have since adopted.

Fleming is one of four UC Davis faculty members who will receive 2011 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service awards. They will be recognized and honored at an academic awards reception on May 11.

UC Davis Health System is advancing the health of patients everywhere by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 645-bed acute-care teaching hospital, an 800-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit the health system website.