Remembering Dr. Gene Herbek, See, Test & Treat Founder

Leadership and compassion aren’t always closely associated, but Gene Herbek, MD, FCAP, knew their intertwined relationship. He embodied both qualities as a prominent leader in the field of pathology and a compassionate champion for health care in underserved communities.

Dr. Herbek died on June 4, 2020, after a lifetime as a practicing pathologist leader, philanthropist, volunteer, husband, father, and friend.

Role in See, Test & Treat

He is best known to the CAP Foundation for his role in founding their signature program, See, Test & Treat, which has provided free breast and cervical cancer screening to thousands of women across the US since Dr. Herbek hosted the first event at Standing Rock Indian Reservation nearly 20 years ago.

Dr. Herbek shows patients their slides at a See, Test & Treat event in Omaha, Nebraska.

At the time, Native American women had the highest rate of cervical cancer in the US and one of the lowest survival rates. Seeing that urgent need, Dr. Herbek worked to develop a welcoming environment to provide free high-quality care to the patients who needed it most.

Dr. Herbek continued to serve at-risk patients over the years by hosting more See, Test & Treat programs, including programs in Omaha, Nebraska, where he invited patients to “ask a doc” and get behind a microscope to take a look at test samples.

Impact on the Foundation

His legacy of community outreach and philanthropy didn’t end at onsite health care events. The Herbek family continued their involvement with the CAP Foundation, providing support, donations, and guidance to staff and members.

Dr. Herbek (right), his wife, Jean, and Dr. Martinez-Torres pose with Herbek Humanitarian Award winner Dr. Dina Mody at CAP19.

In 2011, the Gene and Jean Herbek Humanitarian Award was established to recognize pathologist leaders who have made innovative and unique contributions to advance the See, Test & Treat program. The award is named in honor of Dr. Herbek’s outstanding service, as well as that of his wife, Jean, who carries on his commitment to the cause.

CAP Foundation President Guillermo G. Martinez-Torres, MD, FCAP, said, “Gene’s passing is a great personal loss to everyone who knew him, but also, to all the patients he served and the action he inspired and built at the CAP Foundation.”

Involvement with the CAP

Before Dr. Herbek’s impactful work with the CAP Foundation, he deployed the same level of leadership, passion, and service to other areas of the larger CAP organization in his over 30 years of active membership.

Dr. Herbek (center) with the CAP Board of Governors and executive staff during his term as president

He served in many roles on committees and project teams, both scientific and member oriented. Some of his involvements include the House of Delegates, Finance Committee, Investment Committee, Risk Management Committee, Practice Management Committee, and New in Practice Committee in addition to many years on the Board of Governors as a governor and officer. His leadership roles culminated in his election to CAP president, serving honorably from 2013 to 2015.

Dr. Herbek reflected upon completing his term as president and receiving the CAP Pathologist of the Year award. “Choosing pathology as my specialty in medicine was a life-changing decision,” he said. “The impact on my life was amplified a thousand-fold when I became a member volunteer of the CAP.”

Dr. Herbek was an influential leader, mentor, and colleague to an untold number of CAP members and future leaders.

“It was our collective honor to have known and worked with such an outstanding person,” current CAP President Patrick Godbey, MD, FCAP, said. “We have lost a terrific leader.”

Continuing His Legacy

Dr. Herbek made a lasting impact not only on the CAP Foundation and the CAP, but on thousands of pathologists, doctors, and—perhaps most importantly—the very real lives of the patients in his care and those who will continue to benefit from the vision of his leadership and compassion.

Dr. Gene Herbek was born and raised in Nebraska where he would live and work for most of his life. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine and its Residency Training Program. He spent the last 16 years as the Laboratory Medical Director with the Nebraska Methodist Health System in Omaha, Nebraska. He is survived by his wife and their two daughters, Sara and Emily, and a granddaughter, Rylee.

Please consider donating to the CAP Foundation’s See, Test & Treat program in Dr. Herbek’s memory to help continue the work he began.

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