"There has never been a day ... when I did not look forward to going to the classroom, the clinics or the operating room."
The best way to catch Keck Science graduate Dr. Greg Moneta, CMC ’76, is to call his office at 7 am. Dr. Moneta, a native of Ontario, California, is a Professor of Surgery and Chief, Vascular Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), in Portland, Oregon.
Dr Moneta divides his time between teaching, research, surgery, seeing patients, academic travel and research talks, as well as departmental management. On the morning of his interview with Keck Science, Dr. Moneta had just completed a weekend of vascular surgery on-call duty at OHSU and the Portland VA Hospital and was preparing for a conference with fellow editors of a European vascular surgical journal. Regular hours during the week are generally devoted to surgery, clinical care of patients and teaching residents and medical students. Writing and research are pretty much “an evening and weekend activity.” Dr Moneta, however, is passionate about his work and describes his typical 70-80-hour work week as “not grueling.”
“There has never been a day since high school, college, medical school, residency and academic surgical practice when I did not look forward to going to the classroom, the clinics or the operating room,” he says.
Dr. Moneta’s scientific training began at Keck Science, where he found particular value in the senior thesis which allowed one to “design a study and then carry out and complete the work in a relatively independent fashion”. His project involved isolating and characterizing a luminescent chemical found in bacteria.
“The exposure to (Keck Science) faculty obviously interested in teaching and who cared about the individual student likely helped solidify my desire to continue my education in medical school,” he says. After completing his undergraduate education in Claremont, Dr. Moneta attended Harvard Medical School. Graduation from Harvard was followed by a 5-year residency in general surgery at the University of Washington, then a one-year research fellowship at the University of Zurich and finally 2 more years of vascular surgery training at the University of Washington before joining the Department of Surgery faculty at OHSU in 1988.
Dr. Moneta is a highly regarded surgeon and medical researcher. His interest in surgery was facilitated by exposure to some of the world’s greatest academic surgeons at Harvard and the University of Washington. However, he attributes his early inspiration to Keck Science faculty. He says Emeritus Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology, David Sadava was “brilliant and a very good teacher. I wanted to be smart like that guy.” Dr. Moneta’s department at OHSU provides exposure to surgery for undergraduate and medical students each summer. The students participate in research and are brought in to the operating room and clinics as observers. He believes, “Young people add a lot to the department through their enthusiasm and curiosity.”
Dr. Moneta selected CMC for undergraduate education because he was interested in good academics as well as opportunity to continue to play his high school sports of tennis and water polo in competitive programs at the collegiate level. “I was never going to be a D-1 athlete, but it was great to compete with teammates who had a similar orientation to academics and athletics.” Along with teammate Trustee Tom Neff, CMC ’76, Dr. Moneta and the water polo team enjoyed victories against Harvard and Yale during an Ivy League water polo tournament organized by Trustee Neff. “It was fun to do that kind of stuff,” says Moneta. In citing the recent CMC alumni magazine features on student athletes, he notes that today’s students seem to have “pretty much the same considerations we had.”
His advice to today’s students is, “Enjoy what you’re doing for what it is.” He encourages students to focus on their interests rather than on “external signs of validation” such as grades and board exam scores.
“There is even more pressure on young people now to perform well on standardized tests. My daughter (Lauren, Scripps ’06, OHSU ’13) and her friends worried excessively about the MCAT and now they worry about medical school board exams.” He says in the 1970’s and 80’s it was common to take MCAT and medical board exams without nearly the intensity and duration of preparation common to today’s undergraduate and medical students.
The Monetas have committed to liberal arts college education. In addition to oldest daughter medical student Lauren Scripps ‘06, Dr. Moneta’s middle daughter Lindsey (Scripps ’08) was a Keck Science biology major who now attends veterinary school in Oregon. (The youngest daughter shares a more similar orientation to their mother, Tracey Scripps ’79, and is an art student.) Brother Michael (CMC ’78), a Keck science biology major, also attended medical school following graduation from CMC and is an anesthesiologist in private practice in Portland.
Dr. Greg Moneta '76
School: Claremont McKenna