Vascular community mourns Roy Greenberg

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Roy Kenneth Greenberg, 49, died 7 December 2013 at his home near Cleveland, USA, after a long battle with cancer. He was born in Ithaca, NY, to Iris and Donald Greenberg on 9 November 1964. Greenberg obtained his Bachelor’s degree at Cornell University and his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati. He trained in general and vascular surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he met his wife Alicia Fanning. They both joined the faculty at the Cleveland Clinic after completion of their training.

Greenberg had a passion for problem solving, and he applied this to the care of his patients. His innovations and research have helped to shape the current treatment of complex aortic disease, and his contributions were instrumental to ushering in the era of endovascular therapy. His interest in teaching and mentoring has contributed to the academic growth and development of many colleagues. His contributions, whether directly or indirectly, have saved the lives of many around the world. He has been recognised with numerous awards and the Society for Vascular Surgery established an annual lecture on innovation in his honour. He was also honoured with the Cleveland Clinic Sones Innovation Award in 2013. He held nearly 100 patents on endovascular therapy developed from his research.

Greenberg was the physician interviewed in the Profile section in Vascular News in January 2010. In the interview, he spoke about why he decided to specialise in vascular surgery: “This decision was subject to a bit of coincidence. My first rotation as a resident was on the vascular surgical service with Drs DeWeese, Green and Ouriel at the University of Rochester. I remember my very first day of internship, Dr Ouriel quizzing me on some angiographic studies and I was so proud of my ability to answer those questions. After that, they really cultivated my interest in diseases of the blood vessels. This area of pathology fit in nicely with my interest in imaging and also in device design. The cumulative effect was that of a snowball going down a mountain just gathering momentum and size in the process. It was really after my first month of internship that I knew that I wanted to go into vascular surgery and to be honest I have never looked back since that time, or regretted that decision.”

Greenberg’s international reputation provided him with the opportunity to travel the globe and explore many different cultures, which he loved. He was thrilled to be able to share these experiences with his family, in particular his sons Zachary, 11, and Lucas, 10, who accompanied him on many of these adventures.

He told Vascular News: “I have to say my primary interests outside of medicine are my family. My wife Alicia, and my two kids Zachary and Lucas. I love spending time with them and look forward to showing them how small the world we live in really is. I have actually become quite proficient at things that are common in five- and seven-year-old conversations [age of his children at the time of interview], such as Pokemon and playing the Wii, in addition to soccer and T-Ball. I used to do a lot of diving, but since having children not of diving age, I have become more of a true fair weather diver, and have a lot of fish tanks. They provide me a great deal of enjoyment both to look at and learning about all of the details of how to keep fish and corals. I also like the outdoors, including camping, hiking and biking. And I have to say that I really do enjoy traveling. I think that the world is a small place, and it has been getting much smaller as you develop friends in more and more countries. I find that my primary objective on a lot of trips has focused less on the specifics of a conference, but more in seeing the colleagues that over the years I have gotten to know.”

Additionally, Greenberg is survived by his younger brother and sister, Eric and Jane, and his parents, Don and Iris.

The Cleveland Clinic said that Greenberg will be remembered as an innovator, surgeon, teacher, and mentor. “Most importantly, Greenberg will be remembered as a friend, husband, and father. He was a great light that shone on his patients, colleagues, friends and family.”

Roger Greenhalgh, London, UK, editor-in-chief of Vascular News, added: “I have lost a great friend with whom I had the privilege to attend vascular meetings for some years. But more than that, the global vascular community is so prematurely deprived of the finest of his generation. Roy was that special. The loss to us, however, will be as nothing compared with the loss to Alicia, Zachary and Lucas as well as his parents, brother and sister.”

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