By Rosie Clandos

Jeffrey Myers, M.D.
                    Jeffrey Myers, M.D.
Julia Dahl, M.D.
                        Julia Dahl, M.D 


After 12 years of service as the MLabs Medical Director, Jeffrey Myers, M.D., will be focusing on his role as the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Quality in the Department of Pathology and ushering in his MLabs successor, the current MLabs Associate Medical Director, Julia Dahl, M.D.


Team achievements

Having an unwavering commitment to the interest of patients and providers, Dr. Myers says, “I am very proud of the work we’ve done. We've become more service-oriented and patient-centered. We provide a level of pathology and laboratory care that competes with anybody. We have faculty in our department who have demonstrated a level of technical skill that puts us at the very top of the field. They have done a lot of work to grow our consultation practice, and they've strengthened our department’s brand and Michigan Medicine’s brand. Now, we provide pathology and laboratory support for patients literally from coast to coast. Additionally, we’ve experienced some cultural evolution and improvements over the last 12 years, resulting from the work of many people.”


Exemplary qualifications

“Dr. Dahl brings a unique set of experiences and perspectives to the work at MLabs,” says Dr. Myers. “She’s knowledgeable in the business space and about operations for pre- and post-analytical services. Also, she has an appreciation for and a commitment to our academic and research missions. She has a unique combination of interests, passions and skills.”


Shared goals

Currently, Dr. Dahl bridges the world between externally facing clients and internally facing clients – faculty and laboratorians. “In my MLabs role, I seek to find common threads and assist various people to feel unified in our shared goals and in the ways MLabs benefits our department and Michigan Medicine via opportunities to provide more complex testing, connection to our communities and financial support,” says Dr. Dahl.


Dedicated service

“Dr. Myers, in every role he has been in, leaves very large shoes to fill,” says Dr. Dahl. “The echoes and reverberations of his leadership will be felt for years to come. Through decades of dedicated service and tireless work, which included securing and innovating dedicated space for our faculty and laboratories  at the North Campus Research Complex, to his mentoring at varying levels throughout the department, he has shown a willingness to believe in what is possible instead of what you can get by with. He has the unique ability to generate enthusiasm and interest for the next great thing. And, particularly in times of duress, Dr. Myers slows down, pauses to be present, and works to help colleagues and staff feel that good things are possible.”


Leadership lessons

“One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as director of MLabs is the importance of listening and standing in the shoes of others,” says Dr. Myers. “It's still hard for me, but I think it’s something I'm better at than I was.”


In his leadership role, resilience and perseverance have been essential, as well as the ability to use data and even storytelling to support a viewpoint. “Stories aren’t data, but they’re compelling and they remind us of who we are and why we’re here,” says Dr. Myers. 


“Apologies are critically important and rarely done well, and they’re never done comfortably. I've had to apologize plenty in this role,” says Dr. Myers. “Learning to do that from a place of humility and authenticity is an important part of the deal and something for which I've needed a fair amount of coaching.”


“Dr. Dahl has been very educational for me. She’s taught me a lot more than I’ve taught her, and she has helped me expand my view of what’s possible. For that, I’m very grateful,” says Dr. Myers. “I think Dr. Dahl is a very capable and effective physician leader. There are not many like her. And I feel comfortable that I've done all I know how to do to ensure the continued success of MLabs and Dr. Dahl.”


Assuming the role

Says Dr. Dahl, “The timing of my moving into the role of the MLabs director position coincides with Michigan Medicine’s expansion to include Sparrow Health System as we expand our statewide network of care. As I assume this new role, MLabs as a division is also expanding some areas of responsibility.  To support our world class laboratories’ ability to focus on the complex analytical phases of laboratory testing, MLabs is playing a larger role in the pre-analytical and post-analytical processes that bring tests into our laboratories and ensure delivery of test results and pathology reports. With the regional integration, the Department of Pathology is leveraging MLabs’ 30+ years of experience in bridging across different facilities. The successful and seamless integration of our laboratories across the region is a principal focus for MLabs over the next two fiscal years. Balancing regional integration with continuing to provide exemplary service to our existing 1000 clients will be quite a feat. Achieving these shared goals is possible with the talent and dedication of our personnel and faculty – supported by the belief that we are all one team.”


Challenges and duty

“Our current pressing challenges are balancing our institution’s expectations with current resource constraints, while keeping an eye on threats to our discipline on the horizon,” says Dr. Dahl. “Specifically, we've seen an increasing expansion of publicly traded conglomerate laboratories in the private practice sector, and they are gaining a foothold within some academic departments. This poses a challenge to competing missions as an academic institution that provides the highest quality of care to our patients. I see that as a greater threat than artificial intelligence.


“Our fiduciary duty remains to our patients, while the influx of publicly traded companies that ‘manage laboratories’ results in the opposing fiduciary duty to return money to shareholders. MLabs and the Department of Pathology remain committed to providing efficient, effective and scalable laboratory services to ensure cost effectiveness for our institution and patients.


“We are currently investing in our digital pathology platforms and have specific expertise and data scientists within our department who can take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence to make our laboratory services of higher value and more efficient. So rather than seeing AI as a threat, we see it as a valuable tool when properly implemented.”


Belonging and ownership

”The impact I would like to have on the Department of Pathology is to underscore the value that MLabs brings to the department in such a way that the staff, faculty, educators and even researchers feel a sense of belonging and ownership of MLabs as part of our department’s shared vision,” says Dr. Dahl.


Farewell message

In his personal life, Dr. Myers plans to have fun playing some “bad rock n’ roll” with his band and spending more time with his family that he has neglected during his last 40 years in medicine.


Offering a few parting suggestions, Dr. Myers says, “My advice would be to never forget why you’re here. Never forget that patients are at the center of what we do. And never shy away from fixing something that’s broken.”