August 27, 2003
MEDIA CONTACT: Joanna Downer
Berg To Head NIH Institute
Wendie A. Berg
Jeremy Berg, Ph.D., professor and director of biophysics and biophysical chemistry and director of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine, has been appointed director of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. He is expected to begin in early November.
His appointment, announced Wednesday, Aug. 27, by NIH director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., recognizes Berg's longstanding contributions to basic research and administration, according to comments by Zerhouni and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
"For 18 years, Jeremy has been a valuable member of the Johns Hopkins community, as a researcher, teacher and administrator," adds Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "While his abilities and perspective will be sorely missed here, the nation will benefit from his leadership at the NIGMS."
As NIGMS director, Berg will oversee a $1.8 billion budget that funds basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology. NIGMS currently supports more than 4,400 research grants -- about 10 percent of the grants funded by NIH as a whole. NIGMS also supports a substantial amount of research training as well as programs designed to increase the number of minority biomedical scientists.
"I'm excited about the opportunities ahead of me," says Berg. "I've been committed to the support of basic science at Hopkins, and I will have a great opportunity to advocate for the importance of fundamental research on a national scale."
Prior to his appointment as professor and director of the School of Medicine's Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry in 1990, Berg was an assistant professor of chemistry on the Homewood Campus of The Johns Hopkins University. Berg spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in biophysics with Carl Pabo at Hopkins School of Medicine after receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1985. He holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in chemistry from Stanford.
Over the past two decades, Berg's training as an inorganic chemist, combined with a profound interest in biology, have aided his creation of an active research program in understanding zinc-fingers -- small domains of proteins that bind zinc and interact with other biomolecules, such as DNA. These domains, among the most common encoded by the human genome, participate in many biological processes, particularly control of gene expression. His research uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and molecular modeling, among other tools, to evaluate the structural, thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of these proteins.