University of Pittsburgh
May 25, 2016

Pitt’s Jeremy Berg Named Editor-in-Chief of the Science Family of Journals

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PITTSBURGH—Jeremy Berg, associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and former director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been named by the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, beginning July 1, 2016. 

Berg, who also holds positions as Pittsburgh Foundation Professor of Personalized Medicine and Director of the Institute for Personalized Medicine, professor of computational and systems biology, and professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, will become the 20th editor-in-chief of Science since the journal’s inception in 1880. He will serve a five-year term.Jeremy Berg Photo Credit: Joshua Franzos

“I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to work with the team at Science and AAAS,” said Berg, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at Stanford University and his PhD in chemistry at Harvard University. “Effective communication of results as well as key aspects of the scientific process and culture has never been more important,” said Berg, who leads the author team for the textbook, Biochemistry, first written by Lubert Stryer.

Science magazine is a huge voice and plays an outsized role in the matters of policy and all things associated with the pursuit of new knowledge and scientific advances,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We are proud of Jeremy, who has been a contributor at the national level for many years.” 

Berg will remain in his roles at Pitt, said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

“Dr. Berg is one of the nation’s leading scientists, with many landmark achievements in biomedical research, a broad and deep sense of all of the sciences, and a profound interest in science policy and the dynamics of the scientific community,” said Levine. “I am proud indeed that Dr. Berg has been given this rare recognition, and especially proud that he is, and will remain, a member of our faculty.” 

Berg will succeed Marcia McNutt, who joined AAAS on June 1, 2013, and was elected to serve as president of the National Academy of Sciences, beginning on July 1 of this year.

Rush Holt, AAAS CEO and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, commended McNutt on her exemplary service as editor-in-chief and welcomed Berg to his new role. “Jeremy Berg will bring exceptional scientific, technical, and administrative experience and insights to the position of editor-in-chief, and I am confident that he will help us to lift our journal’s standards to an even higher level,” Holt said. “We are grateful to Marcia McNutt for her exemplary service, and particularly her efforts to raise the bar of data reproducibility.”

Gerald R. Fink, immediate past president of AAAS and chair of the search committee that unanimously selected Berg, commended the decision. “Our committee felt that Jeremy Berg was a terrific choice among a group of excellent candidates,” said Fink, who is the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor and American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Whitehead Institute. “His broad scientific perspective and passionate advocacy for basic research, combined with his interest in scientific policy, makes him a superb spokesperson for the scientific community.” 

Marcia McNutt, current editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, also offered praise for Berg. “I am pleased to know that the Science journals will be in the extraordinarily capable hands of Professor Jeremy Berg, as he has excelled in every position he has undertaken: scientific as well as administrative,” McNutt said. “His high standards and broad interests are a perfect fit for the Science team.” 

Founded in 1880 by journalist John Michels and with seed money from Thomas A. Edison, Science has been the official journal of the nonprofit AAAS since 1900. Encompassing all fields of science and engineering, through peer-reviewed research articles as well as award-winning news reports, breakthroughs debuting in Science have ranged from wireless telegraphy and new chemical elements to the historic sequencing of the human genome and the discovery that brought Mendel’s laws of heredity to light.

Berg’s extensive professional career has also included service as a professor and department director at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1993, he received the American Chemical Society’s Award in Pure Chemistry.

From 2012 until 2014, Berg served as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In that role, he advocated for greater inclusion within the science and technology community—urging students, faculty, and institutions to become more mindful of implicit biases that can create unrecognized roadblocks to scientific advancement. “Groups with members from highly diverse backgrounds simply perform differently (and usually more effectively) than groups with little diversity,” Berg wrote in ASBMB Today (November 2012). “Diversity enhances the richness of the fabric of the scientific enterprise.” Berg also initiated discussions of the need to develop more sustainable models for the biomedical research enterprise (ASBMB Today, August 2013) and has continued efforts toward this goal through ASBMB and the new Rescuing Biomedical Research initiative

His research has focused on the relationships between the structures and functions of biological molecules. More specifically, he has made major contributions to understanding how zinc-containing proteins bind to DNA or RNA and regulate gene activity. His work, along with the contributions of others in the field, has led to the design of metal-containing proteins that control the activity of specific genes. Berg has also made contributions to the 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. Within the scientific community, he is perhaps most widely known for his work on zinc finger proteins, including the successful prediction of the three-dimensional structure of TFIIIA-type zinc finger domains prior to the experimental determination of their structures. Currently, he is using computational methods to estimate binding free energies for peptides interacting with targeting receptors.

Biochemistry, co-authored by Berg, John L. Tymoczko, Gregory J. Gatto Jr. and Lubert Stryer, is currently in its eighth edition and is widely used by many universities. Berg also co-authored Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry with Stephen J. Lippard.

The journal Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed, general science journal in the world. Each week, an estimated 1 million people worldwide read the journal at home, and in libraries, schools, and research institutions. The Science family of journals includes Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, the open-access journal Science Advances, and—coming soon—Science Robotics and Science Immunology

Berg will oversee both the journal’s staff of PhD-level editors, directed by Executive Editor Monica Bradford, and Science’s award-winning team of science journalists, headed by News Editor Tim Appenzeller. Science’s editors and news reporters work in Washington, D.C.; Cambridge, U.K.; and other locations worldwide, from China and Japan to Europe and Africa.

Science has so far had 19 editors-in-chief, including McNutt (June 1, 2013-July 1, 2016), Bruce Alberts (March 1, 2008-July 1, 2013), Donald Kennedy (June 1, 2000-March 1, 2008), Floyd E. Bloom (1995-2000), the late Daniel E. Koshland Jr. (1985-1995), and the late Philip Hauge Abelson (1962-1984).

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; the digital, open-access journal Science Advances; and—coming soon in 2016—Science Robotics and Science Immunology. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes some 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news website, a service of AAAS. For more information, visit www.aaas.org.

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5/24/16/klf/jm

Jeremy Berg Photo Credit: Joshua Franzos