A new endeavor that will focus on the development of individualized disease treatments and prevention approaches has been established by the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and UPMC, and its founding director has been named.
The Institute for Personalized Medicine will apply new knowledge in genetics, genomics and other disciplines to advance evidence-based medicine, and will be led by Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning, Pitt Schools of the Health Sciences, and professor of computational and systems biology, Pitt School of Medicine.
“This institute is one of our most far-reaching basic and clinically applicable research efforts,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean, School of Medicine. “Dr. Berg’s leadership will undoubtedly make the most of our strengths in identifying individual factors that influence disease and tailoring care.”
“Pitt Health Sciences and UPMC are committed to research innovation and treatment excellence,” said Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president, and chief medical and scientific officer, UPMC. “We must strive to learn more about the genetic and environmental factors that shape individual vulnerability to illness and response to therapy and then apply that knowledge to improve the lives of our patients.”
Dr. Berg joined Pitt in August 2011, ending his eight-year tenure as director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health. At NIGMS, he oversaw a $2 billion budget that primarily funded basic research in cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology, as well as clinical areas related to trauma and burn injury, sepsis and wound healing.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to establish the Institute for Personalized Medicine,” he said. “We now have extraordinary tools to elucidate factors that could influence an individual’s disease susceptibility or responsiveness to treatment. Our challenge is to integrate the tremendous complexity revealed by these tools to improve human health. We are in the early stages of one of the most important journeys in modern medicine.”
A world-renowned bioinorganic chemist, Dr. Berg investigates the processes by which biomolecules interact with one another inside cells using both experimental and computational methods.
Prior to his appointment at NIGMS, Dr. Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where he also served as professor and director of the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. Dr. Berg received B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1985. He is the author or coauthor of more than 150 research papers and seven textbooks.
Dr. Berg’s professional honors include being named a Searle Scholar (1987), a Sloan Fellow (1988), Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist of the Year (1995), and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007); receiving the Presidential Young Investigator Award (1988), the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry (1993), the Eli Lilly Award for Fundamental Research in Biological Chemistry (1995), the Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society (2009), the Howard K. Schachman Public Service Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2011), and the American Chemical Society’s Public Service Award (2011); and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (2010). He currently serves as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.