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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 49-50

Roy greenberg: The master innovator

Division of Peripheral Vascular and Endovascular Sciences, Medanta, The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication5-May-2017

Correspondence Address:
Tapish Sahu
Division of Peripheral Vascular and Endovascular Sciences, Medanta, The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijves.ijves_15_17

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How to cite this article:
Sahu T. Roy greenberg: The master innovator. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2017;4:49-50

How to cite this URL:
Sahu T. Roy greenberg: The master innovator. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Oct 1];4:49-50. Available from:

“Vascular surgery has certainly been one of the few specialties that has embraced change rapidly and has been able to morph itself to accommodate new ideas and philosophies.”

These were the words of Roy Kenneth Greenberg who passed away in December 2013 at the age of 49 at his home on Lake Erie near Cleveland. Born in Ithaca, NY, to Iris and Donald Greenberg on November 9, 1964, Roy obtained his bachelor's degree at Cornell University and his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati. He got trained in general and vascular surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, NY, where he also worked as a fellow in intervention radiology. After his training, he joined as a faculty at Cleveland Clinic. Roy had a passion for problem-solving, and he applied this to the care of his patients. His innovations and research have helped shape our current treatment of complex aortic diseases, and his contributions were instrumental to ushering in the era of endovascular therapy. His interest in teaching and mentoring contributed enormously to the academic growth and development of vascular therapies. He has been recognized with numerous awards, and the Society for Vascular Surgery established an annual lecture on innovation in his honor. He was also honored with the Cleveland Clinic Sones Innovation Award in 2013. He held nearly 100 patents on endovascular therapy developed from his research including fenestrated endovascular aortic repair devices. Roy's international reputation provided him with the opportunity to travel the globe and explore many different cultures, which he loved. Roy will be remembered as an innovator, surgeon, teacher, and mentor.

Dr. Greenberg was a giant of a man with elite skill, intellect, acumen, and above all, an eternally kind and generous heart. Roy had the ability to pull you in, to get you excited with what he was excited about. He got people involved at all levels—from high school students to medical students, from residents to fellows, and from young faculty to seasoned investigators. His passion was infective. Roy will be remembered as a hugely talented surgeon and endovascular clinician, a tremendously gifted speaker with incredible recall of detail and data, and a gifted innovator and inventor.

His first rotation as a resident was on the vascular surgical service with Drs. DeWeese, Green, and Ouriel at the University of Rochester. On his very 1st day of internship, Roy was able to answer Dr. Ouriel's quizzes on some angiographic studies. This relationship helped Roy cultivate interest in blood vessel diseases. As Roy recollects – “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.”

The first complex thoracoabdominal aneurysm he repaired with branched graft was in a patient who had suffered two cardiac arrests during anesthetic induction for attempted open repair. Since cardiologist advised using genral anesthesia, this complex procedure was performed under local anesthesia!

He was awarded the Sam and Marie Miller Master Clinician Award, at the Cleveland Clinic for excellence in clinical medicine. His efforts and innovations in endovascular techniques and technology led to the acceptance of rather daunting task of repairing complex aneurysms. But, he did envision a nonsurgical future: “I would say that the fundamental changes of vascular surgery are yet to come, and will involve a greater appreciation for noninvasive imaging, cross-sectional imaging techniques, tissue characterization, and molecular genetics.”

It was really the detailed disciplined training of learning radiology from the standpoint of ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, and interventions that honed his skills to allow him to have a different perspective of how patient care should be provided in vascular surgery. His radiology training had as much to do with his professional career as his surgical training.

“Proper exposure and the setup of the field is probably one of the hardest things to train fellows today.” He credits Dr. Krassy Ivancev for pearls of wisdom: “…pay attention to the very small details, because these very small details make a difference,” and the second, which is some laugh about, is that “when you are nervous during a procedure, give the patient more heparin.” He also learned from Dr. Norman Hertzer that “outcomes matter.”

Roy will be remembered as a hugely talented surgeon and endovascular clinician, a tremendously gifted speaker with incredible recall of details and data, and a gifted innovator and inventor. His legacy is that he recognized a need for new and inventive concepts that would improve the treatment—and the well-being of patients. And, he had the talent and energy to both devise new devices and take up inventions of others, and within the regulatory constraints of the industry, improve, develop, and prove these devices and make the new concepts achievable and accepted.

With a prodigious workload, Roy nevertheless kept meticulous data, and with his gift for presenting a point of view backed up by impeccable and convincing data, he was an impressive advocate for these new technologies. Roy Greenberg has been a major influence in the acceptance of endovascular techniques as being both feasible, and in many instances, the first choice of technique for the treatment of disease from the aortic valve to the profunda artery. He advanced the cause of evidence-based medicine immeasurably. His pioneering contributions will stand the test of time. Roy was part of a new breed of vascular surgeon with proficient catheter, wire, and open surgery skills—an individual who stood above the members of his teams.

Beyond his innovative work, he loved spending time with his wife and two kids, and enjoyed diving. He also had aquariums, which gave him a great deal of enjoyment both to look at and learning about all of the details of how to keep fish and corals.

His legacy is secure in the hands of those he trained and taught from across the world and who, in exponential fashion, will pass on his ethic, skills, and passion to those who follow. Roy's life is a gift to us all. His unparalleled genius and skill is likely something we will all only encounter once in a lifetime. He taught us about the aorta, but more importantly, he taught us how to live and seek out ways to make the most out of any experience.

Vascular surgery even in India has been touched by such pioneers, innovators, and legends whom we can never thank enough. Whatever progress the field has made has been and will continue to be accelerated through the accomplishments of Roy K. Greenberg.

Be Open to New Experiences: “Never stop innovating.”

Thank You Roy

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There are no conflicts of interest.


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