Berk headlines Watson Lecture

By Lisa Ashley Warshaw

Dr. Bradford Berk

Dr. Bradford Berk, chief executive of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), will deliver the 2012 Patricia and William L. Watson Jr., M.D., Lecture on Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. in the Zale Foundation Lecture Hall, D1.600.

Dr. Berk, Professor of Medicine, Cardiology, and Pharmacology, and Senior Vice President of Health Sciences at URMC, will discuss the importance of patient- and family-centered clinical care, a perspective he gained in part through his own personal experience as a patient. An avid cyclist, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a bicycle accident in 2009.

The Watson Lecture is given in conjunction with the annual presentation of the Patricia and William L. Watson Jr., M.D., Award for Excellence in Clinical Medicine. The award is UT Southwestern Medical Center’s highest clinical honor and is bestowed upon an outstanding physician whose work exemplifies the Medical Center’s commitment to patient care.

As previously announced, this year’s Watson Award recipient is Dr. Sharon Reimold, Professor of Internal Medicine, described by her colleagues as a cardiologist who demonstrates a profound commitment to quality and compassion in clinical medicine. 

During his time as a patient, Dr. Berk said he “discovered the importance of bilateral communication, in which patients acknowledge and express appreciation to their providers, and members of the health care team do the same for each other.”

“If the patient and family feel that the environment is a safe one, then they will trust their providers, which is essential for effective communication,” he said.

Dr. Berk’s bicycle accident occurred when he swerved to avoid an oncoming car. His tire blew, and he flew over the handlebars, sustaining a devastating injury to his spinal cord. Transported by Mercy Flight to URMC, he spent 12 days in the intensive care unit. After months of intensive occupational and physical therapy, he returned to his duties at the helm of URMC.

Significantly influenced by his experience, Dr. Berk led URMC to adopt a rigorous approach to patient- and family-centered care, an effort that has boosted patient satisfaction scores on various hospital surveys and has led to increased staff satisfaction and stronger safety metrics.

Dr. Berk has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School, Emory University, and the University of Washington. 

He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, a member of the Association of American Physicians, and past President of the North American Vascular Biology Organization.

Dr. Berk also is the consulting editor for Circulation and Circulation Research, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, among other journals. To date, he has published more than 250 articles, chapters, and books.

Dr. Berk received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.


Dr. Reimold holds the Gail Griffiths Hill Chair in Cardiology.