Rochester Academy of Medicine Presents Kaiser Medal to Berk

May. 17, 2010
CEO cited for his achievements as scientist, clinician and leader
Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D.

The Rochester Academy of Medicine has awarded Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, its highest honor, the 2010 Albert David Kaiser Medal.  He received the award at the academy’s annual meeting on May 12. Berk, renowned for his research into the cellular mechanisms that cause cardiovascular disease, was recognized by the academy as a “brilliant scientist, accomplished physician and visionary leader.”  

As CEO since 2006, the citation noted, he has demonstrated his ability to see the “big picture,” the multiple roles URMC as an academic medical center plays in the long-term health and well-being of the community.

Berk was recruited to the Medical Center in 1998 as chief of Cardiology and director of the newly formed Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at the Aab Institute for Biomedical Sciences. A year later he was named chair of Medicine and then nine years later, CEO and senior vice president for health sciences.

As CEO, he initiated and led the discussion about strategic vision that evolved into a five-year plan to grow URMC’s reputation as a well-established leader in education, research, patient care and community service.

A continuously funded National Institutes of Health researcher for almost a quarter of a century, Berk continues to lead an active cardiovascular research program and has added a new dimension to his focus – using state-of-the-art genomic approaches to unravel the genes that regulate how blood vessels respond to stresses.

He received both his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He honed his skills in cardiovascular research at Brigham and as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. While there, he published a seminal research paper showing that C-reactive protein is elevated in the blood of patients with acute heart disease, a finding that led to the current practice of treating coronary inflammation with statins.

After Brigham, Berk joined the faculty of Emory University and then left in 1994 to become the John Locke Professor of Medicine and director of Cardiovascular Research at the University of Washington. 

Four years later, he joined the URMC faculty.

“I am greatly honored to receive this award from the academy,” Berk said, “but I believe my accomplishments are a reflection of my good fortune in having both remarkably talented mentors and a URMC leadership team and faculty with a wide understanding of health care and science. My commitment as a leader and clinician-scientist is to ensure that, in partnership with physicians throughout the community, the health care services provided in Rochester are among the best in the nation.”