discovery improved lives of heart patients
When Robert M. Berne first published his hypothesis
in 1963 that the chemical adenosine was an important regulator
of coronary blood flow, others in the medical community were skeptical.
By the time he succumbed to lung cancer at 83 earlier this month
at home in Charlottesville, he had developed the most successful
patent the University has ever had and his work on adenosine was
now is recognized as a molecule that has wide-ranging biological
importance, including regulation of cardiac blood flow and heart
rhythms, as well as regulation of brain and kidney functions.
and research fellow Luiz Bellardinelli developed and patented
the medical use of adenosine as Adenocard, to treat cardiac arrhythmias.
Under Bernes leadership, major portions of the royalties
from this patent were returned to the University and used to establish
and endow the Cardiovascular
Research Center and the Robert M. Berne chair in cardiovascular
his work on the functions of adenosine, Berne received the American
Heart Associations 1979 Research Achievement Award and Merit
Award and the 1985 Gold Heart Award. He was elected to the Institsute
of Medicine in 1979, the National Academy of Sciences in 1988
and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995.
alumnus of the University of North Carolina, Berne received his
medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed his residency
at Mount Sinai Hospital of New York. He served in the U.S. Army
Medical Corps from 1944 to 1946. Berne joined the faculty of U.Va.
in 1966 as the Charles Slaughter Professor of Physiology, following
17 years of teaching at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland,
authored more than 200 scientific papers and co-authored several
books, including The Handbook of Physiology, Cardiovascular Physiology,
Principles of Physiology and Regulation of Coronary Blood Flow.
The textbooks remain some of the most widely used in the area.
is survived by his wife of 57 years, Beth Goldberg; a sister,
Peggy Leavitt of Los Angeles, Calif.; four children and their
spouses, Julie and Phil Speasmaker, Amy and Steve Kaminshine,
Gordon and Rosalyn Berne, and Michael and Mary Berne; and seven
grandchildren, Maggie, Molly and Chris Speasmaker, Sarah and Alex
Kaminshine, and Ari and Kyle Berne.