Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman today announced that Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected as the new Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and its patient care network, Strong Health. Berk will assume the post on August 1, 2006.

Dr. Brad Berk began his scientific career at an early age. As a student at Brighton High School, he wrote his first grant application with several friends to the Rochester Museum and Science Center to purchase materials to build a spectrophotometer for their AP Chemistry class. He admits that the equipment was used "very successfully to manufacture several chemicals that were instrumental in senior pranks."

After completing undergraduate studies at Amherst College with degrees in Biology and History, Berk matriculated at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in the Medical Scientist Training Program. After completing his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1981, he served his residency at the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. It was at Brigham & Women's that Berk decided to pursue a career in cardiovascular disease, nurtured by an early mentor, Dr. R. Wayne Alexander. In 1984, Berk began a series of investigations with Alexander to determine how growth factors and vasoconstrictors regulate blood vessels. The work led to a seminal paper published in Science, and earned Berk the Young Investigator's Award from the American College of Cardiology.

Shortly after his appointment as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, Berk followed Alexander to Emory University. He rapidly rose to the rank of Associate Professor, and established a research focus to identify mechanisms by which blood vessels respond to hormones and hemodynamic stimuli that may be involved in diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. He collaborated with the Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology to develop devices and techniques to study the effects of blood flow on the cells that line blood vessels. Berk came to believe that steady laminar blood flow protected blood vessels from atherosclerosis and that changes in the redox state of vessels are critical to protecting the vessels. Thus, he began a series of studies on antioxidant vitamins and other molecules that control intracellular redox state.

In 1994, Berk was recruited to serve as the John Locke Professor of Medicine and the Director of Cardiovascular Research at the University of Washington where he continued his studies on signal transduction in blood vessels and the genetic underpinnings that determine blood vessels' ability to adapt to changes in blood flow.

Dr. Jay Stein recruited Berk to the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1998 to serve as Chief of Cardiology and Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research (now known as the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI)). One year later, Berk was promoted to Chair of Medicine.

Today, URMC's Cardiovascular Research Institute employs 75 individuals while the Division of Cardiology includes 48 faculty and 500 employees. The Department of Medicine in total includes over 250 full-time faculty and a total of over 1,000 employees, and is a $100 million operation. URMC is relocating the CVRI's 75 scientists and staff to the 84,000-square-foot, former Wyeth-Lederle facility in Henrietta. There, the CVRI has the potential to become the largest institute in the nation dedicated to cardiovascular research.