Alumnus Transforming Life-and-Death Medical Technology

UMKC to honor Alexander Norbash as 2020 Alumnus of the Year
Alexander Norbash

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Alexander Norbash (M.D. ’86) with its Class of 2020 Alumnus of the Year Award.

An interventional neuroradiologist, Norbash has been instrumental in inventing and implementing new technologies that are less invasive and more effective for treating strokes and brain aneurysms. Neuroradiology is a highly technical specialty that addresses life-and-death matters with techniques requiring high precision and composure.

Norbash serves as chair and professor of the Department of Radiology, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego).

As one who works on the cutting-edge of developing interventional neuroradiology, how do you see the technology changing and being implemented?

We are resistant to abandon tried and true successful revenue opportunities and risk them in moving to low individual margins where there may be much higher volumes and even greater profitability. Just because we can do a brain MRI in 5 minutes doesn’t mean all practitioners and referring physicians are confident today in the 5-minute scan. I still believe in the high-volume and high-access vision as an inevitability, although it has yet to come to pass. I know my fellow physicians will see the advantages of a more populist and broader health care delivery model. I look forward to that day. 

You wear many hats - leader, researcher, educator, mentor and doctor. Is there one area most important to you? Most challenging?

Mentoring is an awesome responsibility and the greatest privilege of my professional life. It is both important and challenging. In such instances, I have the opportunity to live on in others, forge lifetime friendships and help others learn from my mistakes. I believe that is the essence of teaching and professing.

You are the founding chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Head Injury Institute (HII). What do you hope to accomplish with this organization?

Many medical disciplines have a spectrum of untapped contributions to make in a multitude of areas and trauma is one example. Working with large groups of practitioners interested in concussion imaging and management, there is facilitation elevation in the quality of care delivered to both individual patients and our broader society. Through collaborations we can understand both the value of concussion imaging and how to disseminate novel discoveries and best practices for the same. 

In addition to your roles in radiology at UC San Diego, you serve as associate vice-chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Why is that position important to you?

In order to maximize the potential contributions of an organization, I believe it is important to leverage the commitment and full engagement of every individual within that organization. That is exactly what Inclusion refers to, where every single individual feels appreciated and included, therefore valued, and as such motivated to perform to their highest individual and collective potential. In my opinion, leading to this destination should be one of the highest goals of any manager.

What advice do you have for students who would like to follow in your footsteps?

First, concentrate on forging ties with mentors who believe in you and whom you can believe in. Second, say “yes” as much as possible to expose yourself to the full richness your environment provides. Third, stoke your curiosity and wonder. This will result in you seeing and understanding people, places and things beyond your dreams.

About the Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring Norbash and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.

Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees

Learn more about School of Medicine

Published: Apr 11, 2021

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