The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) has introduced a new award, the International Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises “outstanding contribution to vascular surgery” and global acclaim. Enrico Ascher (NYU Langone Health, New York, USA), who describes it as “the Nobel Prize of vascular surgery”, presented the award to Roger Greenhalgh (London, UK) at the SVS Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM; 20–23 June, Boston, USA).
Ascher—who is a former vice president, president-elect and president of the SVS—tells Vascular News, “I think this is probably the most prestigious award [in vascular surgery] that exists nowadays, because of the process—not because the SVS is sponsoring it, but because actually all the societies are involved.” The selection process is drastically different to the long-standing general SVS Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises one member of its society each year. Instead, the society’s International Research Committee accepted nominations for the award from “every major and regional society, as well as government agencies” worldwide, with strict eligibility requirements. Following the externally-led nomination process, the SVS committee chose its top candidates to be considered by the society’s Executive Board, which selects the final recipient of the award.
“The nomination process is not easy,” Ascher said at the Vascular Annual Meeting, highlighting the “severe” eligibility requirements for receiving the award and the scale of the international selection process. “One vascular surgeon not only meets all the expectations, but indeed surpasses them,” Ascher noted before presenting Greenhalgh as the recipient.
Accepting the award, Greenhalgh highlighted the many American vascular surgeons and pioneers of the field that shaped his career and his life. Greenhalgh described how he learned and benefitted greatly from mentors such as Michael DeBakey, John Bergen, James Yao and many others. “I was privileged to learn from the masters, and tried to reproduce the SVS,” ultimately leading to creating the Charing Cross Symposium—now 40 years running. In founding the European Society for Vascular Surgery (ESVS), Greenhalgh further stated, “All I did was listen to DeBakey and Jesse Thompson, and copy the SVS.”
The inspiration from across the Atlantic can be seen in the details of Greenhalgh’s legacy, from the name of the leading European society and journal he helped establish: a society for vascular surgery and a journal of vascular surgery. In his parting contribution as chairman of the board for the European Journal of Vascular Surgery, Greenhalgh said, “I persuaded them with a narrow vote to become the journal of vascular and endovascular surgery; that is the one difference.”
“We are proud of this award and we are lucky that we were able to get Professor Greenhalgh,” Ascher told Vascular News. “To me, he has been something close to one of my idols, in every aspect possible. He is not only a leader in vascular surgery, he is a moral leader, which makes him unique.
“He leads by example. Not only by his contributions, or his political influence, or his knowledge, or trials, but actually as a person. As a person who is totally committed to his profession, to his family, to his friends, to his peers. He thinks first about them, and not about himself. That is what makes him a moral leader, and what sets him apart.”
Greenhalgh is also set to receive an honorary fellowship of the American College of Surgeons later this year.