Berk is Executive Vice President of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Dean of the School of Medicine. He is a board-certified specialist in infectious diseases and has written a plethora of peer-reviewed articles, as well as five medical books. Berk is a member of the American Osler Society. He is the author of “Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story”, which was awarded the Silver Medal in the Foreword Indies Award (True Crime Category).
Berk follows the writer’s well-known advice to “write what you know” in crafting his debut novel, “In Search of the Animalcule.” A work of historical fiction about the beginnings of infectious disease, “In Search of the Animalcule” will rekindle attention to the history of handwashing doctrine, the euphoria of discovery, and the continuing martyrdom of physicians battling deadly animalcules (germs). , a battle that continues in the COVID era, according to a press release announcing the book.
About the book: Upon being born in Vienna in 1847, the protagonist Jacob Pfleger spends only two days with his mother, an obstetrician who, like thousands of other women around the world, dies of the mysterious puerperal fever. As his birth father wants nothing to do with him, Jacob is placed in foster care. As Jacob grows into a precocious 12-year-old, he is told about the legacy of his mother, the first female doctor in Vienna, by his colleague, Ignaz Semmelweis.
When he learns that his father is a winemaker in Lille, France, Jacob is determined to find him and embarks on a quest to locate him. When he arrives in France, Jacob is introduced to Louis Pasteur, who is working with his father to determine why France’s wines are spoiling. As he is led on an intense scientific journey, Jacob eventually meets and works with Joseph Lister and Robert Koch, participating in the great discoveries of the time that reveal the animalcules, the bacteria, that caused global disease and death. Later, Jacob studies to become a doctor under Sir William Osler at Johns Hopkins.
“A remarkable story that captures the real lives and work of the greatest scientists of the time, ‘In Search of the Animalcule’ is a brilliantly acted tale. Berk delivers a compelling and confident story of discovery that unfolds against the backdrop of an unprecedented era. “In Search of the Animalcule” is an extraordinary story remarkably well told,” the statement said.
“In Search of the Animalcule” (iUniverse) is now available where the books are sold in hardcover (6×9, 228 pp., ISBN: 9781663248015, $23.99) trade paper (6×9, 228 pp., ISBN: 9781663248008, $13.99) and eBook (ISBN: 9781663247995, $3.99) editions. Both of Berk’s books are available online at amazon.com.
This article originally appeared in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Lubbock Physician, Medical School Dean Writes Historical Fiction