First Endowed Professorship in Stroke Neurology

Personal Crisis Inspires Greenebaum Family to Establish First Endowed Professorship in Stroke Neurology

The Greenebaum name has been synonymous with philanthropy and civic leadership in Maryland for decades. Considered to be one of Baltimore’s most well-known and respected families, the Greenebaums are among the largest supporters of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland Medical System.

The family’s generosity includes both commitments of time — several members have held key leadership positions within the University of Maryland, including serving as members of the School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors — and philanthropic support. For example, the Greenebaums established an annual Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series for the Institute of Human Virology and initiated the “Access to Medicine Fund,” which provides scholarships to University of Maryland medical students who are state residents.

In 1995, the Greenebaums made a then-record-breaking $10 million donation to the University of Maryland for the creation of The Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. The gift, made exactly five years after Marlene Greenebaum’s diagnosis of cancer in 1990, celebrated her successful treatment and recovery.

Stewart Greenebaum calls the Greenebaum Cancer Center “my true life’s work,”  and predicts that it will “still be changing lives … long after the buildings I have built have been forgotten.”

However, another, more recent personal crisis gave the family the inspiration to make an impact in a new and different way than its previous efforts: the creation of the Stewart J. Greenebaum Endowed Professor in Stroke Neurology.

Life-saving treatment

In 2011, Stewart Greenebaum suffered a devastating stroke and required immediate medical attention. Without a moment’s hesitation, the family turned to the University of Maryland for assistance. Mr. Greenebaum was treated by a multidisciplinary team of stroke experts led by Barney Stern, MD, interim chair and professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Because of his research and clinical work on stroke and the neurological complications of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects a range of organs, including the brain, Dr. Stern was able to diagnose Stewart Greenebaum’s condition and provide the treatment that he needed.

“The care that my father received from Dr. Stern and his team at the University of Maryland saved his life,” says Michael Greenebaum, president of Greenebaum Enterprises Inc.

During and after his father’s treatment, Michael Greenebaum says the family developed a relationship with Dr. Stern and took an interest in the work that he and others were performing, including an experimental treatment, Glyburide, which is used to prevent brain swelling after a stroke. The Greenebaums eventually decided to make a donation to recognize and support the life-saving care provided by Dr. Stern and the physicians at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“It became apparent to us that the neurology department needed a boost,” he says, “The family thinks the world of Dr. Stern, and we saw that a gift would be very meaningful for helping him continue the important work he is doing.”

An ‘inspiring’ award

That “boost” became the decision to create the Stewart J. Greenebaum Professorship in Stroke Neurology, which, appropriately, was awarded to Dr. Stern. Established and funded through the Greenebaum Family Foundation, the professorship is designed to “advance biomedical research aimed at understanding, diagnosing, and treating stroke.” The Greenebaum Professorship is the first in Stroke Neurology at the School of Medicine.

“Since Stewart honored me with his gift of the Greenebaum Cancer Center, I wanted honor him as well,” Marlene Greenebaum said. “Also, our family wanted to honor and support the people who saved Stewart’s life and to help to facilitate research that may save other people from the devastation of massive stroke.”

“I am truly grateful and honored to be the inaugural recipient of The Stewart J. Greenebaum Endowed Professorship in Stroke Neurology,” Dr. Stern commented during his investiture ceremony in October 2014. “It is the Greenebaums’ vision of a better tomorrow and … their determination to help others in spite of their own personal experience with the devastation that stroke can cause which is so very inspiring.” 

Dr. Stern added that funding from the professorship will allow him and his colleagues to continue to develop new treatments for stroke-associated complications, such as brain swelling.

 “[The professorship] is a gift that promises that the future will bring the best stroke talent to Maryland to contribute in a significant way to advance stroke research,” Dr. Stern said. “And it is a gift that gives all of us the energy to do the best we can professionally and personally to live up to the Greenebaum family expectations.”

‘A fitting honor’

“Endowed professorships such as this allow us to do the innovative, important work that we do,” adds Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Stern has a stellar record as a clinician, researcher, and teacher, and this is a fitting honor for him. I congratulate him, and express my deepest gratitude to the Greenebaum family.”

Michael Greenebaum, who serves on the University of Maryland School of Medicine Board of Visitors as well as the Greenebaum Cancer Center Board of Advisors, says his family has “a high comfort level” when it comes to making donations to the University of Maryland.

“We know that any money we’ve ever given is going to be put to work in the best way possible,” he says. “We hope our gift will encourage others to do the same thing.”