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Remembered forever

Erik Nichols, 18 months.

Fund named in son’s memory supports educational opportunities for pediatric critical care fellows

Christopher Meyer, M.D., loved her career as a pediatric critical care doctor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. It was an intense job that required her to be on her feet all day, but she was continually amazed at the strength of the families she met.

But a childhood spine condition made it difficult and often painful for Meyer to stand for hours on end. She had several surgeries, trying to alleviate the pain, and each had a rather long recovery period when she couldn’t work at all.

Meyer worried that she was burdening her colleagues at the University, with which Gillette was then affiliated. “But they never, ever made it seem that they were resentful at all,” she says. “They were very compassionate and understanding.”

In gratitude for that understanding, Meyer in 1999 made a gift of $27,000 to help trainees in the University’s pediatric critical care fellowship program attend professional conferences or to support their research. Meyer completed her pediatric critical care fellowship training at the University in 1992.

Meyer with son Erik Nichols. “Some of the leaders in the international community have trained here,” says fellowship program director Marie Steiner, M.D.

“There’s a long history of training the movers and the shakers—in terms of research, education, and service.”

Though Meyer’s back problems forced her to retire early, in 2003, she firmly believes in the power of research and education.

Then four years ago, her middle son, Erik Nichols, died suddenly at age 23. In his honor, Meyer recently renamed the fund she had created the Erik David Nichols Memorial Pediatric Critical Care Fellows Fund. She also has added to the fund, which now contains more than $37,000, and she made it an endowment so it could be a funding source for fellows in perpetuity.

“That way [Erik] could be remembered forever,” Meyer says.

Erik Nichols. The support her funds provide to fellows will have a lasting impact as well. The fund allows them to attend professional meetings and educational conferences that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford on their trainees’ salaries, Steiner says.

For instance, if a fellow is chosen to present at a professional meeting, he or she will attend that conference, although it may not be the most beneficial educationally, Steiner says. But the Erik David Nichols Memorial Pediatric Critical Care Fellows Fund allows fellows, today and in the future, additional opportunities for professional development.

“It’s so selfless,” Steiner says. 

For more information on supporting fellowship funds, contact Courtney Billing at 612-626-1931 or

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