Indiana doctors’ paths have intermingled since Grinnell student days

October 13, 2022 — What do hands and the heart have in common? Myriad aspects, to be sure, but there is a specific and rather unique Grinnell connection in the Indianapolis medical community.   

Hand surgeon Jeffrey “Jeff” Greenberg ’80 and cardiologist Edward “Ed” Fry ’79 began a parallel journey during their Grinnell years that continues to this day.

Ed Fry ’79
  Edward “Ed” Fry ’79

Fry and Greenberg are currently presidents of their respective associations: the American College of Cardiology and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Heading these organizations is often a full-time job in and of itself, and both have had to scale back some of their other duties. 

“My schedule has brought me to six different countries to present and attend meetings – and that’s just in the past two months,” Fry says. 

The doctors first met 44 years ago in James Hall. Greenberg and Fry lived on the same floor when Greenberg was in his first year at Grinnell. “He was a biology major, and I was chemistry, so we crossed paths often,” Fry says. “If you were in a bigger school, you might never see one another, but at Grinnell, we did.” They also played sports together and shared the same circle of friends.

Coming to Grinnell from Brooklyn, New York, Greenberg was one of many in that region recruited by Nancy Schmulbach Maly ’61, a former Grinnell College admissions representative. Greenberg initially felt out of his comfort zone at Grinnell and made plans to leave. It was his advisor, Roberta Atwell, professor emerita of education, who talked him out of it. He started playing basketball and rugby and soon got more connected.

Jeff Greenberg ’80
  Jeffrey “Jeff” Greenberg ’80

“I had to open myself up and get exposed to the bigger world,” Greenberg recalls. “I tried classes beyond my major interests, like theatre and art.” And it was through signing up for a stagecraft class that he encountered his future wife, Nancy Goldman Greenberg ’81. “I saw her for the first time while running the sound for her dance concert,” he explains. 

Fry’s parents encouraged him to look at Grinnell after his father, a medical scientist at Argonne National Lab in Chicago, had a Grinnell student work with him on summer research. Fry was focusing on large, public schools but he made a trip to Grinnell anyway. “I decided at the 11th hour to attend,” he recalls. “It was one of the top three best decisions of my life.” 

Fry says a Grinnell highlight was his summer research with chemistry professor Elliot Uhlenhopp focusing on DNA injury and repair. “I cannot overemphasize this experience,” he explains. “Because we were published, I was at a different level of eligibility for medical schools, opening a lot more doors.” 

“The Grinnell research experience was so impactful that my wife and I have endowed a Grinnell summer research fellowship in my parents’ names [Drs. Michael and Shirley Fry Research Fellowship],” Fry says. 

Fry attended Washington University School of Medicine and then stayed in St. Louis for his internship, residency, and cardiology fellowship. When a former colleague reached out about an opportunity at an innovative community-based hospital in Indianapolis, he was intrigued. “It was one of the first hospitals in the country doing stents,” Fry explains. “It was innovative, well-run, and collegial. They were doing more clinical research than Washington University. I was sold.”

Greenberg pursued medicine at George Washington University after getting his master’s in human anatomy at Ohio State. He completed his general surgery internship and orthopedic surgery residency at SUNY Syracuse followed by his hand surgery fellowship in Indianapolis. He returned to start practice in Syracuse but after 1 year was offered the opportunity to return to Indianapolis. 
“The people and facilities were great, but I knew deep down that it lacked the teaching, research, and academics that had been so stimulating to me,” Greenberg explains. When he was asked to join the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center, Greenberg jumped at the chance to be a sub-specialist, teaching fellows instead of just residents.

Jeff Greenberg ’80 poses with his family.
Jeff Greenberg ’80, with wife, Nancy, and daughters, Sawyer and Ryann.

Unbeknownst to one another, Fry and Greenberg moved to Indianapolis at the same time. A chance encounter brought them together again. “While on our first grocery run, my wife and I literally bumped carts with the Greenbergs, who had also just arrived,” says Fry. Since then, the lives of these two have remained in orbit. 

Fry is an interventional cardiologist at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital and chair of Ascension’s National Cardiovascular Service Line. Specializing as a hand therapist, Fry’s wife, Kathy worked several years at Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center, Greenberg’s private practice. 

Both doctors have done groundbreaking research over the years, and recently Greenberg cowrote a paper with one of Fry’s partners on a new approach for diagnosing a rare heart condition called amyloidosis. 

Greenberg was initially elected as a division director for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand Council, serving in that capacity for three years, before moving into the presidential line. 

“Most presidents of this society are in academics,” Greenberg says. “To have someone rise up through all of the administrative and political stuff and be elected president while running a private practice is really unusual.” 

Ed Fry ’79, right, poses with his family.
Ed Fry ’79, right, poses with his sons, Ian, Sean, and Colin ’14 Fry; Anna Scalzo; and his wife, Kathy.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand Council meets three times a year, and Greenberg has weekly check-ins with the CEO. Greenberg represented the society at the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand meeting in London.  

American College of Cardiology (ACC) responsibilities have taken Fry to Mexico, Germany, Australia, England, Brazil, Dubai, and Spain. He estimates up to 75 percent of his work now is related to ACC matters. 

Similar to Greenberg, Fry worked his way up through the organization, starting with the state chapter. He eventually became president of the Indiana chapter and represented the state through the board of governors. He has been involved in committees, councils, clinical section, advocacy, education, and training at the state and national levels. 
Both Greenberg and Fry have continued to connect to their Grinnell beginnings. Fry missed his 40th reunion but ended up crashing his brother’s (Peter Fry ’82) cluster Reunion. In addition, his son, Colin Fry ’14 is a Grinnell graduate. 

Greenberg made it back for Reunion 2019, where he was presented with an Alumni Award. He also is the class agent for the class of 1980 and has previously served on the Alumni Council. 

And along with the Drs. Michael and Shirley Fry Research Fellowship, there is the Jeff ’80 and Nancy ’81 Greenberg Endowed Scholarship.

“It is not hyperbole to say that neither one of us would have had the opportunities we’ve had if it weren’t for Grinnell,” Fry says.

— by Melanie Drake ’92

For your information:

Learn more about the organizations Fry and Greenberg head up: the American College of Cardiology and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

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