Meet UNMC Distinguished Scientist Wayne Fisher, Ph.D.

May 15, 2012

UNMC researcher Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., answers questions about his work, life and interests.

NOTE: This profile is part of a series to highlight the 23 researchers who will be honored May 22 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2011 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator award recipients.

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Wayne Fisher, Ph.D.
  • Name: Wayne Fisher, Ph.D.
  • Title: Professor in the Munroe-Meyer Institute and director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Joined UNMC: 2006
  • Hometown: St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Describe your research in laymen's terms.

My research aims to improve our understanding of, and our ability to treat, severe behavior disorders, such as aggression, self-injurious behavior (SIB) and property destruction. SIB is a relatively rare behavior problem, occurring in about two out of 10,000 individuals in the general population. But this disorder is about 700 times more common among persons with autism and severe to profound levels of intellectual disability. ... My research focuses on how we determine which environmental factors are influencing SIB (or other problem behavior) for an individual patient. More importantly, it also focuses on how we can change those environmental factors in ways that decrease SIB and increase appropriate behavior.

How do you want your research to translate to benefit patients?

All of my research is focused on the assessment and treatment of severe behavior disorders, which has immediate benefit to patients.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?

The late Joseph V. Brady, the father of the field of behavioral pharmacology, once shared with me "Brady's First Law," which postulates, "no job is too large, too complicated, or too onerous if you can get someone else to do it for you."

List three things few people know about you.

  • I was born in a car on a sub-zero New Year's Eve in the Motor City, and the hospital still charged us for the delivery room.
  • My brother and I rebuilt my Harley Davidson Superglide after it was totaled in a fire in the Rocky Mountains.
  • I started out wanting to be a music major and fell into my current field because I failed the audition.

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Nicole Lindquist
May 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I'm sorry to say I'm glad you failed the audition, Dr. Fisher! Your contributions to the treatment of autism will be felt for several lifetimes!