University of Minnesota

David Berkson, M.D.


David Berkson was a pioneer in CVD epidemiology as the clinician-internist for the early observations and trials of the Chicago Health Department under Jeremiah Stamler. After graduation from Northwestern University Medical School in 1953 and internship, he became a Fellow in Louis Katz’s Cardiovascular Department at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. As other young physicians in early CVD epidemiological studies, he was drafted to develop the standard formularies for the surveys and to supervise and conduct the medical examinations.

In 1959 he became Research Associate at the Michael Reese Cardiovascular Institute and joined the Stamler team at the Chicago Department of Health (CDH), becoming responsible as medical officer for the clinical event data of the “classic” Peoples Gas Co. cohort and for all clinical components of the Chicago Coronary Prevention Evaluation Program. In 1961 he became Assistant Director of the Heart Disease Control Program of the CDH and in 1963, succeeded Stamler as Heart Disease Control Officer for the City of Chicago Department of Health, a position he occupied until 1990. During that time his department pursued prevention programs in CVD and hypertension detection and control.

Berkson continued his career in practice as Chief of Cardiology at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago where he founded and directed the Cardiovascular Research Unit, and where for more than 30 years his unit participated in national clinical trials, including the Coronary Drug Project. As professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine of Northwestern University Medical School throughout his career he served on and led committees, advisory groups and boards dealing with CVD, atherosclerosis and hypertension epidemiology and prevention, research, practice, and policy. (H.Blackburn)