Paul D. Berk, MD

Internal Medicine
More specialties
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Areas of Expertise / Conditions Treated

  • Liver Disease
  • Research Studies

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Medicine at CUMC

Hospital Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center


  • Male

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Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Internship: Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Residency: Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Fellowship: Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Fellowship: Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
  • Fellowship: National Cancer Institute, MD

Board Certifications

  • Internal Medicine
  • Hematology


The Berk laboratory studies the mechanisms by which long chain fatty acids (LCFA) cross cell membranes, and the pathophysiologic consequences of disordered regulation of transmembrane LCFA transport in obesity-  and alcohol-induced fatty liver and cardiomyopathy.  Using basic methods of cell and molecular biology, we have characterized and cloned one of several recognized LCFA transporters, defined the normal processes for cellular LCFA uptake in isolated rodent and human fat cells, and in rat and mouse hepatocytes and cardiomyocytes, and are currently characterizing the regulation of LCFA uptake into these cells and into established hepatoma, adipocyte and cardiomyocyte cell lines. Observations at the bench are confirmed by collaborative work with bariatric surgeons at Columbia and Cornell using human tissues obtained from morbidly obese patients during bariatric surgery and from non-obese patients undergoing other, minimally invasive surgical procedures.


Facilitated Uptake of Long Chain Fatty Acids in Obesity R01 DK52401-08 (PI: Berk) 01/01/97–06/30/10 This project focuses on fatty acid transport in liver and adipose tissue, and on the role of regulatable fatty acid transport mechanisms in the pathogenesis of obesity and fatty liver in animal models.

Bariatric Surgery: Outcomes & Impact on Pathophysiology  U01 DK66667–04 (PI: Berk) 10/01/03–08/31/14 This grant supports the infrastructure and certain patient-related research costs for a Bariatric Surgery Clinical Research Center, one of six participating Centers within NIDDK’s Longitudal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery consortium (LABS).

Bariatric Surgery for Morbid Obesity: Clinical and Pathophysiologic Consequences R01 DK072526-01A1 (PI: Berk) 09/15/2006 - 08/31/2011 This project was funded as an Ancillary Grant to U01 DK66667, above. We obtain samples of liver and of mesenteric, omental, and subcutaneous fat from morbidly obese patients being treated with a two-stage bariatric surgical approach in which the 2nd operation is conducted after of weight loss of approximately 100 pounds. We compare adipocyte size, rates of fatty acid uptake and lipolysis, expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism, extent of macrophage infiltration, and cytokine production in the 3 sampled fat depots, and gene expression microarray analyses in the liver samples.

Selected Publications

  • Fan, X., Bradbury, M.W., Berk, P.D.: Leptin and insulin modulate energy efficiency and weight loss through selective regulation of long chain fatty acid uptake by adipocytes. Journal of Nutrition, 2003, 133: 2707-2715.
  • Berk, P.D., Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver tests. In Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine, 22nd Edition. L. Goldman, D.W. Powell, J.M. Drazen, G. Gill, R. Griggs, D.A Ausiello, J. Armitage, W. Arend, Editors. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 2004, 897-906.
  • Bradbury, M.W., Berk, P.D. Cellular uptake of long chain free fatty acids: the structure and function of plasma membrane fatty acid binding protein. Advances in Molecular and Cell Biology, 2004, 33:47-81.
  • Bradbury, M.W., Berk, P.D. Lipid metabolism in hepatic steatosis. Clinics in Liver Disease, 2004, 8:639-671.
  • Berk, P.D., Zhou, S.L., Bradbury, M.W. Increased hepatocellular uptake of long chain fatty acids occurs by different mechanisms in fatty livers due to obesity or excess ethanol use, contributing to development of steatohepatitis in both settings. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 116:335-345, 2005.
  • Petrescu, O., Fan, X., Gentileschi, P., Hossain, S., Bradbury, M., Gagner, M., Berk, P.D.: Long chain fatty acid uptake is up-regulated in omental adipocytes from patients undergoing bariatric surgery for obesity. International Journal of Obesity, 2005, 29:196-203.
  • Korenblat, K., Berk, P.D.: Hyperbilirubinemia in the setting of anti-viral therapy. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 3:303-310, 2005.
  • Wolkoff A.W., Berk P.D. Bilirubin metabolism and jaundice. In: Schiff’s Diseases of the Liver, 10th Edition. E.R. Schiff, M. F. Sorrell, W.R. Maddrey, Editors. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore. 2006. pp 213-244.
  • Belle SH, Berk PD, Courcoulas AP, Flum DR, Miles CW, Mitchell JE, Pories WJ, Wolfe BM, Yanovski SZ; and Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Consortium Writing Group. Safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery: Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery. Surgery for Obesity Related Disorders. 2007; 3:116-126.
  • Berk, P.D., Korenblat, K.M. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver tests. In Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine, 23rd Edition. L. Goldman, D.A Ausiello, Editors. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia. 2008. pp 1091-1100.
  • Petrescu, O., Cheema, A.F., Fan, X., Bradbury, M.W., Berk, P.D. Differences in Adipocyte Uptake of Long Chain Fatty Acids in Response to High Fat Diets in Osborne-Mendel and S5B/Pl Rats. International Journal of Obesity. 2008; 32: 853-862.
  • Verna, E.C., Berk, P.D. Role of fatty acids in the pathogenesis of obesity and fatty liver: Impact of bariatric surgery. Seminars in Liver Disease 2008; 28 (4): 407-426.
  • Berk, P.D. Regulatable Fatty Acid Transport Mechanisms are Central to the Pathophysiology of Obesity, Fatty Liver, & Metabolic Syndrome. Hepatology 2008; 48: 1362-1376.
  • The LABS Writing Group (Flum, D., Belle, S., King W.C., Wahed, A.S., Berk, P., Chapman, W., Pories, W., Courcoulas, A., McCloskey, C., Mitchell, J., Patterson, E., Pomp, A., Staten, M.A., Yanovski, S.Z., Thirlby R., Wolfe, B.) Perioperative safety in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery. N Engl J Med 2009; 361(5): 445-454.
Submitted Manuscripts
  • Walewski, J.L., Gagner , M., Inabnet , W.B., Pomp , A., Branch, A.D., Berk, P.D. Adipocyte accumulation of long chain fatty acids in obesity is multifactorial, resulting from increased fatty acid uptake and decreased activity of genes involved in fat utilization. Obesity Surgery (Accceptable pending revision).
  • Guarnieri. F., Bradbury, M.W., Stump, D.D., and Berk, P.D. Molecular modeling and site-directed mutagenesis identify a previously unrecognized fatty acid binding site in beef heart mitochondrial aspartate aminotransferase. (Submitted).
  • Zhou, S., Ge, F., Hu, C., Berk, P.D. Increased insulin- and leptin-regulated hepatocellular fatty acid uptake plays a major role in the pathogenesis of hepatic steatosis in mice with intact leptin signaling, but not in those lacking leptin (ob/ob) or the leptin receptor (db/db). (Submitted).
  • Ge F., Arai, K., Zhou, S., Hu, C., Homma, S., Berk, P.D. Histologic and Echocardiographic Evidence of a Cardiomyopathy Associated with Hepatic Steatosis in Mice. (Submitted).