The History Corner: Harry K. Genant  

American radiologist Dr. Harry K. Genant (1942-2021) was a pioneer in the field of musculoskeletal radiology, which he led brilliantly and enthusiastically for almost 50 years. Along with renowned radiologists Gamsu and Moss, he was the author of the book Computed Tomography of the Body, which became an essential source of reference for later generations of specialists.   

Born in Freeport, Illinois, his first vocation was to be an astronaut. Dr. Genant was trained in the U.S. Air Force Academy for a short period, where he realized that he wasn´t made for the military discipline. In 1967, he earned his medical degree at Northwestern University in Chicago. After an internship in the Johns Hopkins University, he completed his residency in radiology at the University of Chicago, where he was chief resident and subsequently assistant professor until 1974. At that time, he was appointed as Chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he built the international reputation of this institution in that discipline for more than 30 years.

Through his vision, the field of musculoskeletal radiology moved from subjective image interpretation to quantitative analyses. His article Quantitative bone mineral analysis using dual energy computed tomography, published in 1977 in Investigative Radiology, was revolutionary at this time and led to the Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance (QIBA), developed by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Another brilliant accomplishment of Dr. Genant was the development of a grading system for osteoporotic spine fractures published in 1993, which has been used as a reference standard to characterize osteoporosis properly. During his tenure at UCSF, Dr. Genant founded the Osteoporosis and Arthritis Research Group (OARG), the leading research institution in the world for imaging osteoporosis and arthritis   

In 1998, long before Silicon Valley became known for its innovative spirit, Professor Genant founded Synarc (now Synarc-BioClinica), an organization dedicated to research and management of quantitative imaging and biomarkers in multicenter, multinational, pharmaceutical drug trials.

“Harry”, as he was affectionately called, had a prolific academic career which was characterized by prodigious productivity. He was editor or co-editor of more than 40 books, and author or co-author of more than 300 chapters and invited articles, over 600 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He was also a highly acclaimed speaker.

Dr. Genant was president of the International Skeletal Society and the Association of University Radiologists. He was Associate Editor for the journals Bone and Orthopaedic Translation, and Editorial Board Member of Skeletal Radiology, Osteoporosis International and The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Dr. Genant was Honorary Member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, as well as a prominent member of the Italian Radiological Society, the Chinese Osteoporosis Society, the Chilean Society of Osteology, the Hungarian Society of Osteology, and the European Society of Skeletal Radiology.

Dr. Genant will be remembered as a very caring and talkative person, who celebrated the accomplishments of his team members and colleagues by inviting them out to dinner and to his summer parties at his house in Tiburon. One of his recurring traditions at the RSNA Congress meeting in Chicago was his invitation to the Chicago Yacht Club, where he would gather leaders in musculoskeletal radiology from around the world and his team members for a friendly luncheon.

Dr. Genant was a brilliant and charismatic scientist and his legacy will live on.

Author Doctor Luis Humberto Ros



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