Faculty Focus

Greenlee, Jeremy, MD

Jeremy Greenlee, MD

What is your hometown?

Kendallville, Indiana

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

My father is a general surgeon. Medicine and science were always on my mind.

Even though I pursued an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary engineering, I knew I would go on to medical school and become a physician.

I have found that engineering has benefited my medicine. I have developed a problem solving approach influenced by my engineering-self that benefits the medical care I provide.

What interested you to pursue a career in Neurosurgery?

Less is known about the brain. Because of this, I felt the brain would be the most stimulating area for me to study. for me.

I selected Neurosurgery because it requires a depth and breadth of motor coordination skills;; skills to do intricate and precise brain surgery to skills to implant hardware into the spine.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

  • As a fellow, I learned a huge amount from Dr. Charles Teo, Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at Prince of Wales, Australia
  • Several of the Neurosurgery faculty here have shaped my practice
  • Drs. Matthew Howard and John Brugge (University of Wisconsin) have guided me in my research efforts

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

I chose the University of Iowa and the Iowa City community because:

  • The research potential: I can do great research working with talented faculty at an institution that has an excellent research structure.
  • My clinical focus: I could move forward with my endoscopic practice.
  • The community life: The University of Iowa is diverse and stimulating, located in a city that is a good place to raise my children.

The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient-centered care and education?

Through the surgical care I provide to my patients, I can study how the brain affects voice (speech) after someone has experienced a stroke.

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

Being a teaching hospital, I care for patients with complex diseases. The medicine I learn through my clinical practice adds to the depth and breadth of my research.

I also work with professionals across many disciplines, all offering a great deal of expertise and insight.

I have tremendous support for my research and clinical practice. All I need to do is ask.

Please describe your professional interests.

Endoscopic and minimally invasive neurosurgery. Brain tumors. Deep brain stimulation.

What led to your interest in endoscopic and minimally invasive neurosurgery?

I enjoy my interaction with my patients and I am stimulated by the problem-solving approach I learned in engineering school. An added benefit is the growing use of technology in medicine.

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

Combining our expertise and using a multi-disciplinary approach, makes for great research possibilities. Equally important in collaborative science and medicine is that we share resources, including time, which is always at a premium.

What are some of your outside interests?

My kids. Travelling with my family. Playing hockey.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Actually, I have two. It is highly motivating to give your patients your best effort and then combine that with what you like doing.

It is very easy when you realize that every patient is someone’s father, brother, son, mother, sister, daughter, child, grandparent, or friend.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine), what would it be?

Find a cure for brain cancer. Survival time is short.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Minimally invasive surgery.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Choose your career not based on training, but find a specialty that will make you happy and fulfilled in the long-term.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine?

Brain tumors will be prevented or cured using immune treatment.

In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e., population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?

I do some speaking to support groups. I teach nurses and physical therapists. I serve on the Iowa System Evaluation Quality Improvement Committee, a state-wide trauma committee seeking to positively effect quality improvement.