Research Areas of Interest and Highlights
Dr. Berg’s research focuses the relationships between the structures and functions of biological molecules. He has made major contributions to understanding how zinc-containing proteins bind to the genetic material DNA or RNA and regulate gene activity. His work, and that of others in the field, has led to the design of metal-containing proteins that control the activity of specific genes. These tailored proteins are valuable tools for basic research on gene function, and such proteins could one day have medical applications in regulating genes involved in diseases, as well. Dr. Berg has also made contributions to our understanding of systems that target proteins to specific compartments within cells and to the use of sequence databases for predicting aspects of protein structure and function.
Education and Background
- PhD, Harvard University, Chemistry
- MS, Stanford University, Chemistry
- BS, Stanford University, Chemistry
Dr. Berg joined the University of Pittsburgh in June 2011 as the associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences and a faculty member in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology. Prior, Dr. Berg became director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in November 2003. He oversaw a $2 billion budget that funds basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology. The Institute supported a substantial amount of research training and programs designed to increase the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce.
Prior to his appointment as NIGMS director, Dr. Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, where he also served as professor and director of the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry
His honors include a Presidential Young Investigator Award (1988-1993), the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry (1993), the Eli Lilly Award for Fundamental Research in Biological Chemistry (1995), the Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist of the Year (1995), election as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow (2007), 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 (ASBMB) (2011, presented in 2010), election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2010), a Public Service Award from the American Chemical Society (2011). He also received teaching awards from both medical students and graduate students and served as an advisor to the Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Association since its founding.
While at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Berg was deeply involved with teaching and curriculum development, both for medical and graduate students. At the NIH, he led several important efforts including co-leading a group examining and proposing enhancements to the NIH peer review system. He also helped develop several new programs for fostering highly innovative research. He was recently elected to be the next president of the ASBMB.