Three newly appointed Charing Cross International Symposium (CX) Co-chairs will ensure Roger Greenhalgh’s inspiring legacy of vascular education continues at CX 2024 with the 46th CX Symposium. Dittmar Böckler (Heidelberg, Germany), Andrew Holden (Auckland, New Zealand) and Erin Murphy (Charlotte, United States) speak about CX founder Roger Greenhalgh’s lasting legacy and the honour of leading future CX Symposia in his wake.

Roger Malcolm Greenhalgh, the surgeon internationally renowned for his unparalleled contribution to vascular education, training and research, died peacefully on 6 October, aged 82. At the time of his death, he was emeritus Professor of Surgery at Imperial College in London and head of its Vascular Surgery Research Group. His obituary in full can be found on Vascular News.

Professor Greenhalgh founded the Charing Cross series of international symposia and annual books in 1978 when he was 37 years of age. This started as a small, focused symposium, with topics such as smoking and arterial disease, held at the Charing Cross Hospital. The earliest symposia had just 100–200 delegates but were always accompanied by a book covering the main presentations and discussions. The Charing Cross (CX) Symposium has grown exponentially and has been forced to move to much bigger venues to cope with the increasing popularity of the meeting which peaked at over 4000 in-person attendees in the years immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic. Pioneers such as Michael DeBakey, Denton Cooley, Jesse Thompson, John Mannick, John Bergan, Jimmy Yao, Ted Diethrich, Juan Parodi and Frank Veith have all graced the podium. Tom Fogarty spoke of his catheter and Andreas Grüntzig spoke of his angioplasty in the 1980s. Julio Palmaz gave news of endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) at CX 1990. CX continues to provide top class vascular education and critical discussion of cutting-edge developments in the management of vascular disease. He presided over the 45th symposium earlier this year. Many speakers feared his acerbic wit and the tolling of the bell if they strayed overtime.

Professor Greenhalgh, who was quick to embrace digital methods of transmission, recently spoke from the state-of-the-art CX Vascular studio in London to detail the global interest in the Charing Cross brand of education. In 2023, the symposium saw registrations from 2,500 in-person attendees and an additional 7,000 people participated digitally, tuning in mainly from China. He was always in his element at the CX podium, his secret passion for the theatre on full display, enjoying the cut and thrust of discussing the current, hot-button issues in the vascular field with global experts. Age did not wither nor custom stale his delight in unpicking an argument to get to the core of the matter, always endeavouring to outline the research and education required to drive the topic forward. In the days before his passing, Greenhalgh’s passion for the quality of the CX Symposium programme burned brightly right to the very end as he worked on the CX 2024 version in the Hammersmith Hospital’s De Wardener ward intensive care unit.

Professor Greenhalgh’s steadfast commitment to the highest quality education, innovation and evidence will be carried forward by CX Co-chairs Professor Dittmar Böckler, Professor Andrew Holden and Dr Erin Murphy. Professor Greenhalgh personally nominated the CX Co-chairs to carry the CX baton and honour the style of education so well established by Professor Greenhalgh.

CX Co-Chairs (From left to right) Andrew Holden, Dittmar Böckler and Erin Murphy

Statement from Professor Dittmar Böckler (Heidelberg, Germany)

“In 1998, I started my career in vascular surgery, more or less by chance. In 2000, as a young fellow, I was able to attend the Charing Cross Symposium, where I saw and experienced Prof Roger Greenhalgh for the first time; his charisma, his aura, his passion, his foresight and his vision have left a lasting impression on my professional life. Over the past two decades, Prof Roger Greenhalgh has become my role model in academic vascular surgery and medical education. Professor Roger Greenhalgh is a pioneer and a giant in vascular surgery and medicine.

It has been a privilege and honour to share his friendship over all these years.

I will never forget his strong personal relationship with the German Society of Vascular Surgery (DGG) and his attendance at several of our Society’s annual meetings, together with his son Stephen.

My thoughts are with the family, but also with Prof Roger Greenhalgh, who has had an extraordinary influence on my life as a vascular surgeon.

It is an honour and a privilege to carry on his legacy and vision with colleagues, friends of Roger and his son Stephen. I will never forget his credo: ‘…to discover and promote new talents and bring medical education and CX to the next level, year by year! It’s all about controversies and especially consensus in academic medicine, but also in life…’

Roger, thank you so much for what you’ve done for vascular surgery, for me in person, and for what you’re passing on to us – a great legacy for the global vascular community!”

Statement from Professor Andrew Holden (Auckland, New Zealand)

“With the passing of Professor Roger Greenhalgh, we have lost a pioneer, an inspiration, a mentor and an icon of Vascular Surgery. Roger’s passion for education, evidence-based and patient-focused care as well as the value of an inclusive, multidisciplinary approach has greatly influenced many of our careers. Roger embraced innovation and encouraged debate but was quick to challenge ideas not backed with scientific rigour, often in an amusing but direct way!

Although Roger battled physical health challenges in recent years, his intellectual capacity and inquisitive nature remained remarkable right to the end.

Roger leaves a great legacy and we are humbled by the opportunity to continue this legacy in some small way.”

Statement from Dr Erin Murphy (Charlotte, United States)

“Professor Greenhalgh will forever be cherished as a legendary surgeon of immense stature. He was a visionary, thriving on challenges and relentlessly pushing for progress. He once shared with me that he took immense joy in the process of creating something out of nothing, and indeed, he embodied the spirit of a true builder. Throughout his lifetime, he not only crafted an extraordinary life and career that commanded respect, but he also embraced moments to generously share his knowledge and inspire others.

Working alongside Roger was an opportunity to witness gracious leadership, which was both a rewarding and humbling experience. I will deeply miss our chances to converse and collaborate.

I am [honoured] to have been a part of his journey. His legacy will endure through the knowledge he imparted and the educational framework he established which will continue to enrich global education for years to come.”

The Professor Roger M. Greenhalgh book of condolence can be found here: Please post your messages, stories and photos to commemorate his life and legacy.