In Memoriam: Pioneer in Modern Anesthesiology, Nicholas Greene, M.D.
Nicholas M. Greene, M.D., who has been described as one of the founding fathers of modern anesthesiology around the country and at Yale, died December 28 at age 82 in New Haven.
Founder of the Department of Anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine, Greene was also professor of anesthesiology at Yale and on the Yale-New Haven Hospital staff for 32 years. He served as chair and director of the department for 18 years.
The Yale School of Medicine paid tribute to Greene in 2001 with the establishment of the Nicholas M. Greene Professorship in Anesthesiology, an endowed chair. Greene had a great influence on medicine at Yale and around the world. Under his leadership, anesthesiology at Yale grew rapidly and gained recognition as one of the finest programs of its kind. He is credited with transforming the anesthesia service at Yale from a technical subspecialty of surgery into a medical and academic discipline in its own right.
Born in 1922 in Milford, Conn., Greene graduated from Yale College in 1944 and received his medical degree from Columbia University in 1946. After serving as a surgical house officer at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, he became a resident in anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, later becoming a member of the staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the faculty of Harvard Medical School. From Boston, Greene went to the University of Rochester School of Medicine where he served as a chair of its Department of Anesthesiology. He returned to Yale in 1955, where he served as the School of Medicine’s first professor of anesthesiology and eventually, as the founding chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.
During his distinguished career, Greene served 26 years as editor and then editor- in-chief of the journals Anesthesiology, and Anesthesia and Analgesia, the two major journals in the specialty in North America. Greene published several books and over 200 articles reflecting his interests in education and physiological changes associated with anesthesia, especially those produced by regional and local anesthesia, an interest formed while a fellow at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1950. He also was a member of surgical and pharmacological advisory committees at the National Institute of Research in Bethesda, Maryland, in the 1960s and 1970s.
Greene served as president of the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the New England Societies of Anesthesiology. A member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Connecticut Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Society of Regional Anesthesiologists and the International Anesthesia Research Society, Greene was awarded several medals for his contributions to his field, including Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeon’s silver medal on the occasion of its bicentennial, as well as medals from the Swedish Society of Anesthetists and the Koller gold medal from the European Society of Regional Anesthesia. He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree by Yale University and honorary Fellowship in the English Royal College of Anaesthetists. He was an honorary member of the Japan and Ugandan Societies of Anesthesia.
After becoming Professor Emeritus at Yale University in 1987, Greene, who previously worked as a volunteer on the USS Hope and teacher in several East African anesthesia departments, established and directed The Overseas Teaching Program, sponsored by the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research. Located at the University of Zambia’s Teaching Hospital in Lusaka and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania, the program centered on the theory that teaching medical care to Africans is, in the long term, more effective in improving the quality and availability of medical care than is taking over medical care by Westerners.
Greene was a member of the New Haven Lawn Club, the Yale Club of New York City, Christ Church parish in New Haven, the Elihu Club and the Ladies Aid at Yale. A fervent bird watcher, he was also a member of the American Ornithological Union, the Connecticut Ornithological Association, the American Birding Association, the New Haven Bird Club, and National Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Manomet Bird Observatory in Massachusetts.
Greene is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Elizabeth Miller; daughter, Cynthia R. Greene of Barnet, Vermont; sons, Nicholas Pond Greene of London, England, and Joseph N. Greene II and wife Kristin of Mystic, Conn.; brothers, Joseph N. Greene, Jr. and William M. Greene; and sister, Elizabeth G. Luck. He is also survived by six grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He was predeceased by a grandson.