Her project was complete. So she stuck her head into the office of her boss, Tony Hollingsworth, Ph.D., and asked, "Do you have anything else for me to do?"
Dr. Hollingsworth had an idea.
A decade later, after carrying forward Dr. Hollingsworth's idea in collaboration with numerous other colleagues and a team of volunteers, UNMC has the Rapid Autopsy Pancreas (RAP) Program. And Anderson is the first Gold U recipient of 2014.
"Because it is difficult to obtain tissue to study pancreatic cancer, our program reaches out to patients with this disease," Anderson said.
Their physicians, primarily Jean Grem, M.D., Aaron Sasson, M.D., and Quan Ly, M.D., and research nurse Karen Taylor, talk with patients and families to obtain consent.
"The patients realize that, although our research will not help them, it may lead to a cure for future patients. They can fight cancer even after death."
Program volunteers from the Eppley Institute are often on call "24 hours a day, seven days a week," Anderson said. To date, there have been 76 RAP donations at UNMC.
Anderson stressed that, although she designed and refined the program, it takes hard work from a lot of different people -- staff, physicians, researchers, students.
But if Anderson wants to focus on the team, others want to focus on her.
"Judy's role in cancer patient tissue donation has been the hallmark of her tenure at UNMC," said Eppley Institute Research Coordinator Thomas Caffrey.
"She is extremely hardworking, remarkably well-organized and immensely delightful to work with," said Julia Bridge, M.D., professor of pathology and microbiology.
The program is a vital source of pancreatic cancer tissue, helping numerous researchers over the past several years, noted nominator Dominick DiMaio, M.D.
"Judy has not only helped in the education of many students over the years, but has played a vital role in collecting tissue which has aided numerous researchers at the university, and thus improved the medical center as a whole," he said.
Anderson recently became an accreditation coordinator for UNMC's Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). Though she said it was difficult to leave her Eppley colleagues behind, she's looking forward to new challenges while remaining part of the UNMC community.
And she won't be shy about asking, "Anything else I can help you with?"
Congratulations Mom! Thank you for always being a wonderful role model.
Congratulations to you, Judy. You always excel at whatever you do. Keep up the great work. Mary Haven
I can't think of anyone more deserving. Congrats.
Congratulations Judy !!!
It's great to see you getting the recognition that we Eppleyites have known you deserved for years. It was a tremendous chore and you did it efficiently and with good cheer (especially remarkable!). Big CONGRATULATIONS on the GoldU award. Carol Kolar
Congratulations Judy! Well deserved.
Congratulations Judy!!! Well deserved for your hard work and dedication. Mike Berney
Congratulations, Judy! Both Eppley and FACT can be very proud of your efforts!