Born in New York City, NY, in 1940, Professor Berkowitz received his BA with major in Philosophy from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1961 and MD from New York University College of Medicine in 1965. He pursued post-graduate training for one year at Kings County Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (1965-1966) followed by three- year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cornell University Medical Center and New York Hospital (1968-1971). In 1972, he obtained M.P.H. from the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. In between his post-graduate studies, he served as a Peace Corps physician in Mauritania and Nigeria, and as a consultant for Family Planning International Assistance in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.
Professor Berkowitz’s academic career started in 1974, first as Assistant Professor (1974-1979), then Associate Professor (1979-1982) of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. For the next 18 years, he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science and Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, N.Y. In 2000, he moved to Columbia University Medical Center in New York where he is currently Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of the Residency Program and Quality Improvement in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Program Director of the Residency Program for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.
Professor Berkowitz is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (1987-1990), Fellow of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. He has also been examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both general Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine for more than 20 years. He founded the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology and was former Council member of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society and President of the New York Obstetrical Society, in addition to his memberships of several other national and state Obstetrical and Gynecological organizations.
Professor Berkowitz is an internationally recognized authority in fetal diagnosis and therapy. He is a pioneer in obstetrical ultrasound and has developed several procedures for the diagnosis and in utero treatment of a variety of fetal diseases, with special expertise in the management of high order multiple pregnancies. Professor Berkowitz and Professor James Bussel, a leading expert in infant hematology, worked together for more than 28 years to develop, evaluate and advance transplacental medical therapy for the treatment of infants with Alloimmune thrombocytopenia (AIT), a platelet incompatibility between the parents that affects the fetus causing marked fetal thrombocytopenia and consequently a very high risk of brain hemorrhage and death. Very limited treatment options were available when Berkowitz and Bussel started their studies. Their approach, which consisted of weekly intravenous administration of immunoglobulins to the fetus to increase fetal platelet count, proved to be superior to other treatment options in preventing fetal intracranial hemorrhage, and allowing for a healthier baby to be born whose thrombocytopenia will then disappear within weeks. This approach has led to a global shift towards less invasive treatment of AIT and has laid the foundations for the current practice in this disease.
Professor Berkowitz authored more than 200 articles, 35 book chapters, and 120 conference abstracts, and edited seven books. His contributions have been recognized by several teaching and memorial awards, invited lectureships, visiting professorships in addition to his election to the editorial boards of five Obstetrics and Gynecology journals.
Professor Richard Berkowitz, Professor James Bruce Bussel, have been awarded the prize for their study the natural history, optimal diagnostic criteria and management of pregnant women having infants affected with Alloimmune thrombocytopenia. This disease causes intracranial hemorrhage either in-utero or during neonatal period, causing death or substantial disability in 10% of untreated cases.
Professor Bussel has provided expertise in the diagnosis and medical management of these patients through safe administration of intravenous gamma-globulins, while Professor Berkowitz has provided expertise in obstetrical management of these patients. Both professors developed the study protocols, analyzed the data, interpreted the results and wrote the reports for publications. The worldwide ongoing treatment for this disorder is largely based on their work.