Strong Names Berk as Chair of Medicine

September 03, 1999

After a year-long national search, the University of Rochester Medical Center has found its new chair of Medicine - among the ranks of its medical school graduates. Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., a 1981 alumnus of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, will chair the Medical Center's Department of Medicine and occupy one of the School's oldest endowed chairs as the Charles A. Dewey Professor of Medicine. Berk's appointment is expected to receive final approval when the University of Rochester Board of Trustees meets later this month.

The Medical Center recruited Berk from the University of Washington in Seattle a year ago to serve as its chief of Cardiology and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research, a division of the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences. Berk is a nationally recognized expert on the molecular biology and genetics of cardiovascular disease and is one of the country's leaders in federally funded cardiovascular research. As chair of Medicine, Berk will continue to direct the Center for Cardiovascular Research, and the Medical Center will begin the search for a new chief of Cardiology.

"Dr. Berk is a brilliant researcher, a gifted teacher and a skilled clinician," said Jay H. Stein, M.D., senior vice president and vice provost for Health Affairs at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "It is especially gratifying to appoint one of our own graduates to this pivotal position within the Medical Center."

Berk's current National Institutes of Health-funded research includes studies on: the role of sodium in high blood pressure; the mechanisms which make blood vessels sense changes in blood flow; how oxidative stress promotes inadequate circulation causing ischemic heart disease, and conversely, how antioxidants such as vitamins E and C protect the vessel. He is also studying specific hormones that regulate both the structure and function of blood vessels, and how genetics influences the structure of blood vessels.

"Genetics is at the forefront of modern medical research and practice. It literally cuts across all fields of medicine," said Lowell Goldsmith, M.D., dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "With Dr. Berk's keen interest and deep knowledge of genetics, he is the ideal person to lead the Department of Medicine into the 21st century."

Berk earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College, and both his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He completed his medical residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

He is the recipient of a long list of honors, including election to Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He has earned several prizes, including the Robert Kates Memorial Prize in Research, the Doran Stephens Prize, the American Society for Hypertension Marion Young Scholar Award, and the American College of Cardiology Young Investigator Award. He was a finalist for the Katz Prize, a prestigious national honor bestowed by the American Heart Association. Earlier this year, Berk accepted an invitation by the National Institutes of Health to serve as chair of the Experimental Cardiovascular Sciences Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, directing 20 cardiovascular experts in evaluating grant applications submitted to the NIH.

Berk succeeds former chair of Medicine Raphael Dolin, M.D. who left to accept a position with Harvard University.

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