We Mourn the Loss of Dr. John Bergan, Founder of the Vein Institute of La Jolla

This last week, we mourn the loss of a famed vascular surgeon and incredible human being. Dr. John Bergan, world renowned vascular surgeon who founded the Vein Institute of La Jolla passed on Wednesday June 10. Dr. Bunke trained under Dr. John Bergan and has said, ‘he was a great human being, compassionate doctor, a dear friend.  I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have had Dr. Bergan as my mentor.  We miss him dearly.’

His obituary read:

‘A vascular surgeon who gained national and international acclaim as one of the pioneers in organ transplantation has died at the age of 87.

Dr. John J. Bergan died Wednesday in Chicago, 50 years after he performed the first kidney transplant at what is now Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He founded the Division of Vascular Surgery at Northwestern University’s medical school and wrote what is considered one of the most authoritative books on the circulatory system.

His son-in-law, Drew Davis, announced his death Friday. He says Dr. Bergan died from complications of a neurological illness.

A longtime Northwestern colleague called Dr. Bergan a “pioneer and a visionary vascular surgeon.” Dr. William Pearce added it’s unlikely any vascular surgeon in the United States does not know of Dr. Bergan’s contributions to medicine.’


Dr. John J. Bergan

More about Dr. John Bergan:


HON., F.R.C.S. (ENG,), FACPh



Dr. John Bergan is a clinical vascular surgeon and respected teacher of vascular surgery.  He serves as Professor of Surgery at the University of California, San Diego and at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.  His office for the private practice of vascular surgery is in La Jolla, California, and there he is on the staff of the Scripps Memorial Hospital.


Dr. Bergan completed his secondary education in South Bend, Indiana, attended Yale University and received his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine.  He was influenced by the pioneering vascular surgery of Dr. Harris Shumacker during internship and then completed his surgical residency at the Northwestern University Medical School under the guidance of Dr. Walter Maddock, one of the founders of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

At Northwestern,  he pursued a career in arterial surgery and organ transplantation. The Post Graduate Vascular training program there became the model for subsequent Fellowships approved by the American Board of Surgery.


After 1972, Dr. Bergan assisted Dr. James Yao in development of the noninvasive laboratory at Northwestern University Medical School. He was the principle founder of the Midwestern Vascular Surgery Society and the American Venous Forum.  His teaching of vascular surgery was rewarded by the Rovsing Silver Medal of the Danish Surgical Society, the Hach Silver medal of the German Phlebologic Society and honorary memberships in the Royal College of Surgeons in England, the Vascular Society of Great Britain & Ireland, the Vascular Surgery Section of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and many others.


In Southern California, Dr. Bergan has confined his clinical and research interests to the venous system. He discovered that deep venous reflux disappeared after correction of superficial venous incompetence and  his recent clinical work has emphasized  chemical ablation of incompetent veins using intravenous foam.  His basic science investigations with Professor Geert Schmid Schönbein have uncovered a fundamental cause of venous dysfunction, which has potential for pharmacologic manipulation.


Academically, Dr. Bergan founded the Venous Digest, a monthly newsletter containing abstracts and commentary delivered by e-mail monthly and the International Venous Digest by Fax which is translated into 9 languages and delivered worldwide weekly.

Dr. Bergan has served as President of the Society for Vascular Surgery, the European‑American Venous Symposium, the American Venous Forum, the International Association of Vascular Surgeons, the Chicago Surgical Society, the Gulf Coast Vascular Society, and the Southern California Vascular Surgical Society.  He is current President of the American College of Phlebology and has served as a member of the editorial boards of all of the major surgical and vascular journals such as the Journal of Vascular Surgery, Annals of Vascular Surgery, Surgery and the British Journal of Surgery. He has published over 700 papers and has edited or co-edited 34 books on Vascular Topics nine of which deal with venous problems. His latest contribution, The Vein Book  has appeared  in the Winter of 2014.