Barbara J. Berkman

Dr. Barbara Berkman is the Helen Rehr and Ruth Fizdale Professor Emerita of Health and Mental Health at Columbia University School of Social Work and Special Research Scientist in the Faculty of Social Work. She received her Doctorate from Columbia University School of Social Work, a MA from the University of Chicago, and her BA with distinction and honors in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.

Following her doctorate, she was awarded a Kellogg fellowship to study the outcome of social work health care service delivery to older hospital patients.  She directed 23 federally and foundation supported research projects focusing on issues in oncology and geriatric care. She is a former President of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR).

Dr. Berkman has received many awards and honors primarily for her research and policy efforts in health, mental health, and aging. In 1986, she became the first recipient of the Edith Abbott Distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.  In 1987, she received the “Greatest Contribution to Practice” Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Hyman J. Weiner Award for “Distinguished Scholarship Contributing to Health Care Practice and Administration,” from the Society for Hospital Social Work Directors of the American Hospital Association.  In 1994, she was honored by the National Association of Social Workers when she received the Ruth Knee / Milton Wittman Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Health/Mental Health Policy.”  In 2002, Dr. Berkman received the “Career Achievement Award” from the Association for Geriatric Education in Social Work (AGE-SW).  In 2004 she was given NASW Foundation’s Social Work Pioneer Award, and in 2008 she received the President’s Medal of Honor from the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD). In 2009, she was honored with the Donald P. Kent Award from the Gerontological Society of America for her professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society. In 2012, the American Cancer Society recognized her with the "Distinguished  Achievement in Cancer Award". More recently, in 2015, the Columbia University School of Social Work inducted Dr. Berkman in the Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

Dr. Berkman’s professional contribution to the knowledge base in health care and aging includes over 200 books, chapters, and articles. In recognition of her research and practice in oncology and health care, with a focus on older adults and their families, she has been named a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and of the New York Academy of Medicine and The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.


Last Updated March 10, 2020