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ACS Public Service Award to NIGMS Director, Jeremy Berg

Dr. Jeremy M. Berg, Director, NIGMS, Bioinorganic Chemist Extraordinaire. Photo: Ernie Branson NIH.

We here at the World Headquarters of Terra Sigillata wanted to send a shout-out to the only friend of the science blogosphere who oversees a $2 billion budget, Dr. Jeremy Berg of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences.

In an April 13th Capitol Hill ceremony, Dr. Berg was recognized with a 2011 American Chemical Society Public Service Award together with Norman P. Neureiter, Ph.D., senior advisor to the Center for Science Diplomacy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The ACS press release states:

Jeremy M. Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been an advocate for scientific research, research training, and programs designed to increase the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. He has served as director of NIGMS since November 2003, overseeing a diverse array of research in areas including chemistry, biological chemistry, and pharmacology. The institute supports more than 4,500 research grants, about 10 percent of the grants funded by NIH as a whole. Under Berg’s leadership, NIGMS has increased the visibility of the role chemistry plays in improving health and has recognized the importance of green chemistry. Berg has also overseen the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and New Innovator Award programs, which encourage innovation by supporting exceptionally creative investigators. Prior to his appointment as NIGMS director, 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. In addition, he directed the Markey Center for Macromolecular Structure and Function and co-directed the W.M. Keck Center for the Rational Design of Biologically Active Molecules at the university.

Our overlords colleagues at C&EN – Associate Editor Dr. Britt Erickson, to be precise – also ran an article this past Monday with a nice photo of Drs. Berg and Neureiter.

Berg will be leaving NIGMS this summer to relocate with his wife, breast cancer imaging guru, Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, to the University of Pittsburgh as Associate Senior Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning (Pitt press release). While his departure is bittersweet for those of us who have engaged with him on a variety of levels, his decision is one that was widely lauded across the science blogosphere as in this December, 2010, blogpost by our colleague, DrugMonkey:

Many of us are in dual-professional and even dual-academic partnerships these days. There are struggles and compromises that are almost as varied as the number of couples involved. Here’s a member of a partnership taking what looks, to all appearances, like a bit of a downgrade in support of professional opportunities for his spouse. No matter what the variety of reasons in their household, this has good optics. Another classy bit of legacy that Berg brings to the table.

Yes, “class act” is generally what I think of when reading about Dr. Berg.

And somewhere in his rich research career and years of high government research administration, he has authored or co-authored three textbooks. Most of us bio types know that Berg is has been lead author on the 5th and 6th editions of Stryer’s Biochemistry. But I didn’t know until reading his bio that he was a student of Lubert Stryer’s while earning his BS and MS in chemistry at Stanford. Berg is also responsible for Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry and A Clinical Companion to Accompany Biochemistry.

Berg’s research in bioinorganic chemistry has most recently focused on mechanisms of action of metal-containing enzymes and regulatory proteins, particularly Zn-finger transcription factors. He still publishes actively with these 2009 and 2010 research papers in JACS, a 2010 paper in Biophysical Journal, and this paper last month in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics on the Pharmacogenetics Research Network.

Amazing.

Belated congratulations to Dr. Berg on receiving a 2011 ACS Public Service Award.

Full disclosure: I currently hold a NIGMS R25 education and training grant (blog) and received my very first NIH from NIGMS back in the mid-1990s (Berg didn’t become NIGMS director until Nov 2003).

Regardless, it is a GoodThing to acknowledge GoodPeople no matter where your paycheck comes from.

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