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January 10, 2013

Personalized medicine institute established

Pitt and UPMC have established an institute that will focus on the development of individualized disease treatments and prevention approaches.

The Institute for Personalized Medicine, which will apply new knowledge in genetics, genomics and other disciplines to advance evidence-based medicine, will be led by Jeremy M. Berg, associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the Schools of the Health Sciences, and faculty member in the School of Medicine’s computational and systems biology department.

Berg joined Pitt in 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,” Berg 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.”

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, Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he also served as professor and director of the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry.

He received BS and MS degrees in chemistry from Stanford and a PhD in chemistry from Harvard. He is the author or co-author of more than 150 research papers and seven textbooks.

Berg’s honors include being named a Searle scholar, a Sloan fellow, Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist of the Year in 1995, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the Presidential Young Investigator Award, the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry, the Eli Lilly Award for Fundamental Research in Biological Chemistry, the Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society and the Howard K. Schachman Public Service Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine and serves as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 9

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