Dan Berkowitz, MBBCh, Vice Chair, Biomedical Research; Chief, Division of Cardiac Anesthesia; Professor of Cardiac Anesthesiology; Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Director, Integrated Vascular Biology Laboratory

Dr. Berkowitz have been at Hopkins now for 23 years and has often asked himself what it is that made him stay at Johns Hopkins for all of his academic career.  He believes the answers come back to three truths;  He have met and worked for and collaborated  with some of the most committed, smart and interesting people in medicine, 2) He has had the opportunity to explore and discover interesting things and pursue novel ideas, and 3) He has  had the opportunity to  travel to interesting places.  None of this would have been possible for him at any other institution.

After completing his medicals school training, internship and a fellowship in Human Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, he emigrated to the US in 1986. He completed a year of microbiology research and then an internship in Medicine, in New York after which he moved to Durham, NC where he completed residency and Cardiac Anesthesia fellowship at Duke University.  Those were important formative years in his career where he was mentored by some of the giants in the cardiac anesthesia field, including Jerry Reeves, and Mark Newman, as well as his primary research mentor, Debra Schwinn.  He began to understand the importance that appropriate research experience and training would make in facilitating an academic career.

After coming to Hopkins in ’94, he found a mentor in Dr. Artin Shoukas in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Their synergy allowed them to collaborate on projects related to vascular venous function and orthostasis in the context of space and microgravity.  That enabled them to receive funding from the newly established, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, a consortium of Universities, co-opted by NASA to fund clinical and translational research in space medicine.  This funding and collaborations enabled him to develop his own research trajectory in vascular biology, ultimately leading to his first R01 funding in the area of vascular aging, arginase, and endothelial dysfunction. He thus had the opportunity to establish his own laboratory within the Department.

Dr. Berkowitz  have cherished the tremendous collegial relationship he enjoys with his Cardiac Anesthesia, Cardiac Surgical and research colleagues, and continually  looks forward to new emerging interactions in the research space.   Through the years, he have had the good fortune to work with extremely talented faculty, fellows, and residents who have taught him so many things, and have made coming to work every day fun and fulfilling.  Johns Hopkins is a unique environment. Our cardiac anesthesia division is proud, for example, of their recent full commitment to support anesthesia in the electrophysiology labs.  This has included the institution of jet ventilation to enhance and facilitate radiofrequency ablation in patients undergoing pulmonary vein isolation for atrial fibrillation.  Many other initiatives have been instituted.

Hopkins has a tremendous depth and breadth of talent both on the Research as well as the Clinical side.  Where else could you walk down the main corridor of the Medical center and see, Hal Dietz (the worlds expert in Marfans syndrome), Solomon Snyder (the revered neuroscientist and Lasaker award winner who discovered the opiate receptor) or the Nobel Laureate, Carol Greider (who discovered the age-regulating enzyme, telomerase) all in the space of days?  It is this unique depth of talent and profound collaborative spirit that has helped to fuel his academic career, and can do the same for anyone who has enthusiasm, a will to collaborate and the passion to succeed. The focus of Dr. Berkowitz’s research has been on the mechanisms of nitroso-redox regulation and dysregulation in blood vessels in both health and disease.  This has led to funding in the area of vascular aging, and vascular stiffness and atherosclerosis from the NHLBI and American Heart Association, as well as the cardiovascular injury associated with deep space radiation with funding from NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institution.  Through these research interests, he has had the opportunity   to collaborate with so many interesting people from labs next door and across town at the Bayview campus, to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and Macquarrie University in Sydney Australia. His research has also taken him to interesting palaces. For example, the space radiation program demanded that his group radiate rats at the Dept. of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and its NASA Research Laboratory beamline.   The promotion  of the entrepreneurial  spirit here at Hopkins has allowed him to be  a scientific co-founder of a biotech start-up company, Arginetix, then  Corridor Pharmaceuticals, which was focused on the development of small molecules for therapy in diseases in which endothelial dysfunction is a significant component.   The new discovery that non-visual opsins (light receptors) are present in blood vessels and mediate wavelength specific vasorelaxation hold promise for potentially treating vascular disease with light.   Below is a sampling of some of our more recent manuscripts and editorials that give you one a flavor for the kind of research that we do in our laboratory.


Kuo MM, Barodka V, Abraham TP, Steppan J, Shoukas AA, Butlin M, Avolio A, Berkowitz DE, Santhanam L. Measuring ascending aortic stiffness in vivo in mice using ultrasound. J Vis Exp. 2014 Dec 2;(94). doi: 10.3791/52200

Pandey D, Hori D, Kim JH, Bergman Y, Berkowitz DE, Romer LH.  (Co-Senior Author)

NEDDylation promotes endothelial dysfunction: A role for HDAC2. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2015 Apr;81:18-22.

Carrillo-Sepulveda, M.A., Spitler, K., Pandey, D., Berkowitz DE, Matsumoto T. Inhibition of TLR4 attenuates vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress in diabetic rats. J Mol Med (2015) 93: 1341. doi:10.1007/s00109-015-1318-7

Sopko NA, Matsui H, Hannan JL, Berkowitz DE, Champion HC, Hsu LL, Musicki. B, Burnett AL, Bivalacqua TJ. Sub-acute hemolysis in sickle cell mice causes priapism secondary to NO imbalance and PDE5 dysregulation. The journal of sexual medicine. 2015;12(9):1878-1885. doi:10.1111/jsm.12976.

Steppan J, Sikka G, Hori D, Nyhan D, Berkowitz DE, Gottschalk A, Barodka V. Seeking a blood pressure-independent measure of vascular properties. Hypertens Res. 2016 Jan;39(1):27-38. doi: 10.1038/hr.2015.109. Epub 2015 Oct 22

Maggie M. Kuo, Dae Hee Kim, Sandeep Jandu, Yehudit Bergman, Siqi Tan, Huilei Wang, Deepesh R. Pandey, Theodore P. Abraham, Artin A. Shoukas, Dan E. Berkowitz, Lakshmi Santhanam. MPST but not CSE is the primary regulator of hydrogen sulfide production and function in the coronary artery. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology Published 1 January 2016 Vol. 310 no. 1, H71-H79 DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00574.2014

Pustavoitau A, Barodka V, Sharpless NE, Torrice C, Nyhan D, Berkowitz DE, Shah AS, Bandeen Roche KJ, Walston JD. Role of senescence marker p16 INK4a measured in peripheral blood T-lymphocytes in predicting length of hospital stay after coronary artery bypass surgery in older adults. Exp Gerontol. 2016 Feb;74:29-36. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2015.12.003. Epub 2015 Dec 9.

Nagababu E, Scott AV, Johnson DJ, Dwyer IM, Lipsitz JA, Barodka VM, Berkowitz DE, Frank SM. Oxidative stress and rheologic properties of stored red blood cells before and after transfusion to surgical patients. Transfusion. 2016 May;56(5):1101-11. doi: 10.1111/trf.13458. Epub 2016 Jan 6.

Scott AV, Nagababu E, Johnson DJ, Kebaish KM, Lipsitz JA, Dwyer IM, Zuckerberg GS, Barodka VM, Berkowitz DE, Frank SM. 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate Concentrations in Autologous Salvaged Versus Stored Red Blood Cells and in Surgical Patients After Transfusion. Anesth Analg. 2016 Mar;122(3):616-23. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001071.

Berkowitz DE, Steenbergen C, O’Rourke B. Hibernating Squirrels: SIRTin Clues for Organ Protection after Ischemia-Reperfusion. Anesthesiology. 2016 Jun;124(6):1215-7. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000001114.

Nagababu E, Scott AV, Johnson DJ, Goyal A, Lipsitz JA, Barodka VM, Berkowitz DE, Frank SM. The Impact of Surgery and Stored Red Blood Cell Transfusions on Nitric Oxide Homeostasis. Anesth Analg. 2016 Aug;123(2):274-82. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001392.

Oh YJ, Pau VC, Steppan J, Sikka G, Bead VR, Nyhan D, Levine BD, Berkowitz DE, Santhanam L. Role of tissue transglutaminase in age-associated ventricular stiffness. Amino Acids. 2016 Jul 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Steppan J, Tran HT, Bead VR, Oh YJ, Sikka G, Bivalacqua TJ, Burnett AL, Berkowitz DE, Santhanam L. Arginase Inhibition Reverses Endothelial Dysfunction, Pulmonary Hypertension, and Vascular Stiffness in Transgenic Sickle Cell Mice. Anesth Analg. 2016 Sep;123(3):652-8. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001378.

Natarajan N, Hori D, Flavahan S, Steppan J, Flavahan NA, Berkowitz DE, Pluznick JL. Microbial short chain fatty acid metabolites lower blood pressure via endothelial G-protein coupled receptor 41. Physiol Genomics. 2016 Sep 23:physiolgenomics.00089.2016. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00089.2016. [Epub ahead of print]

Pandey D, Tori D, Nomura Y, Berkowitz D, Romer L. YIA 03-10 ENDOTHELIAL KRUPPEL-LIKE FACTOR 15: A NOVEL TARGET FOR THE TREATMENT OF PULMONARY HYPERTENSION. J Hypertens. 2016 Sep;34 Suppl 1 – ISH 2016 Abstract Book:e206-e207.

For a full list of publications: