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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 2, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 1
School of Medicine's Jeremy Berg Tapped to Head NIH Institute

Jeremy Berg

Jeremy Berg, 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 Aug. 27 by NIH director Elias Zerhouni, recognizes Berg's long-standing contributions to basic research and administration, according to comments by Zerhouni and Tommy Thompson, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Edward D. Miller, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said, "For 18 years, Jeremy has been a valuable member of the Johns Hopkins community, as a researcher, teacher and administrator. 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," Berg said last week. "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 Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry in 1990, Berg was an assistant professor of chemistry in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Berg holds bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from Stanford and received his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard in 1985. He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in Biophysics with Carl Pabo at the School of Medicine.

Over the past two decades, Berg's training as an inorganic chemist combined with a profound interest in biology has 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 spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and molecular modeling, among other tools, to evaluate the structural, thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of these proteins.


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