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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 22, 2024

In Memoriam: Burt Berkson, MD, PhD

OMNS (April 22, 2024) On behalf of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, we extend our deepest condolences on the passing of Dr. Burt Berkson. His transformative journey from academia to medicine, marked by pioneering research with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and unwavering dedication to patient care, has left an enduring legacy in the realm of integrative medicine. Dr. Berkson's role as a compassionate healer, insightful teacher, and captivating storyteller resonates with all whose lives he touched through his innovative treatments. His profound influence on optimal health and the medical community will serve as a beacon for future generations in orthomolecular medicine. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and patients during this time of profound loss.

The following is a memoriam provided by Arthur Berkson to pass on to all ISOM physicians and patients that Dr. Berkson had helped throughout the world.

March 9, 1939 – March 4, 2024

Burt Berkson was born on March 9, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois. He had, in current lingo, a free-range childhood spent listening to patrons’ stories in his father’s tavern on Rush Street, saving all sorts of little animals, learning to fix cars, and having fun with friends. At 20-years-old, and against her family’s initial wishes, he married Ann Stern after seeing her at a social and thinking that she’s the person with whom to share a family and a lifetime together. They remained married for 64+ years.

Burt’s father, Milt, dreamt that he’d be a policeman but he lasted one day at the Chicago Police Academy realizing that he could not be part of such a hierarchical institution and, after a series of short-lived jobs (maybe twenty in his first year of marriage), he instead pursued a career that started in academics. He received a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and then a PhD in cellular biology with an emphasis on mycology from the University of Illinois. By the time he was 33-years old, Burt was the department head for biology at Rutger’s University. After solving a medical mystery in Ann that led to the birth of his daughter, Arin, Burt decided to pursue a career in medicine and became a physician in his late 30’s. It was in his medical residency where he cared for critically-ill patients, dying of liver failure from eating poisonous mushrooms. He enrolled them into a study at National Institutes of Health and, using the natural substance, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), reversed the liver damage, and saved their lives. He ultimately became a principal investigator for the study, a CDC contact for patients around the country with mushroom poisoning, and found his career passion. In 1996, he opened Integrative Medical Center of New Mexico, where he used both natural and conventional medicine to help patients achieve optimal health. For the last 28 years, as a world-renowned expert in ALA, innumerable patients came to Las Cruces from over the world to seek his care. One of his proudest moments was when his son, Arthur, became his partner in his practice and ultimately took it over in 2015. Burt saw patients through January of this year. Recognition of his life’s work was immortalized by the State of Arizona Office of the Governor with the Gladys T. McGarey Lifetime Achievement Award in medicine 2011 and by his induction into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2019.

Burt passed peacefully on March 4, 2024, listening to his favorite music and surrounded by some of the people he loved the most. He was a lifelong learner and gifted teacher. He knew that people learned best through stories. He was a charismatic, engaging storyteller and loved belly laughing to a good joke. He loved dogs and walking through the woods identifying plants, mushrooms, and little animals. He was proudest of his family and leaves behind a long legacy of beloved children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, and patients. Above all, he leaves his wife of 64 years, Ann. His passing will leave an enormous hole in the lives of so many.

If you feel inclined, please honor Burt with a donation to Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation at PO Box 957, Santa Cruz, New Mexico 87567. May his memory be a blessing.

(Provided to OMNS by Arthur Berkson, MD & Miguel Aguilera, MD - March 2024)

More about Dr Berkson:

Integrative Medical Center of New Mexico, P.C.
About Dr. Burton Berkson:

ISOM In Memoriam

Berkson Biography

16th Annual Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame Inductees

Berkson B, Orthomolecular Medicine Today Conference, 2019
The Mitochondrion, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Human Disease Modification

Berkson B, Riordan IVC & Cancer Symposium, 2014
Alpha Lipoic Acid in the Care of Certain Cancers

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