Dr. Roger Herzig, BMT pioneer, dies
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 16:22
Roger Herzig

Roger H. Herzig, M.D., a pioneering cancer physician who established UofL Health – James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program in 1988, died July 18, 2020. He was a tireless advocate for patients and their families, serving as director of the program until 2014.

His death is a loss for the study of medicine, the treatment of cancer, his patients and their families, and his family. He contributed to research, education, and patient care through tenures at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky before returning to the University of Louisville July 1.

“Roger had a long history of developing BMT Programs from scratch,” Dr. Jason Chesney, director of the Brown Cancer Center, said. “Despite his heavy clinical focus, he published 162 peer-reviewed articles and 44 book chapters and has trained innumerable oncologists. Roger’s national reputation amongst the BMT community was largely due to his innovations related to the development of novel BMT protocols for new cancer indications.

“Roger was exceptionally dedicated to his patients and saved the lives of thousands, a workaholic who always had to turn his headlights off when he arrived to work (even in the summertime), and an incredibly warm and genuine friend and colleague. I will miss him and know that many others will too,” Chesney said.

After completing his medical degree with honors and residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, he served in the Naval Medical Corps during the Vietnam War. During this service, while working at the National Cancer Institute, he worked to develop some of the first bone marrow transplant protocols to treat leukemia and lymphoma. He then returned to Cleveland and was the founding director of bone marrow transplant programs at University Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic, before moving to Louisville to establish a program at Brown Cancer Center.

Through nearly fifty years of medical practice he touched countless lives, educated multiple generations of physicians, helped establish bone marrow transplant programs internationally, and remains world-renowned for his landmark works in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma.

Roger was born on January 4, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio to Sylvia, Jack, and brother, Geoffrey. He is survived by his spouse of 53 years Donna Stern Herzig, his four children, David, Daniel, Robert, and Brian, three daughters-in-laws, Belinda, Sallie, and Emilie, and nine grandchildren, Edward, Eleanor, Ethan, Hannah, Lucy, Catherine, Holly, Caroline, and Jack. Roger was a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts directed to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center Herzig Memorial Fund, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, 529 S. Jackson St., Louisville, KY 40202.

A full obituary may be found at: https://obits.cleveland.com/obituaries/cleveland/obituary.aspx?n=roger-h-herzig&pid=196521925&fhid=2098