Robbie Burk

Profile Updated: October 17, 2021
I Reside: New York, NY USA
Spouse/Partner: etty
My Homepage: View Website
My Children: Elana, born 1988 studies environmental science.
Meir, born 1991 studied accounting.
Occupation(s): Medical Research
My Nick Name:


Where I was born:

Washington DC

An Opening Statement:

Graduation was a long time ago, 50 years ago long. The most important events of my college life happened during the summer of seventy. I convinced Al Killeri to go cross country. We drove a woman's car to San Diego (SD), met up with a bunch of Yippies in SD, tried to find jobs (which we never did) and began living on the road. Al bailed and flew to Hawaii to visit his sister. I met some people, got a proper backpack and hitched from SF to Vancouver and across the Trans-Canadian Highway. I saw the country beyond the Mississippi and beyond our northern border. Met hosts of kind people and had a transformative experience. I'm working on writing this up as a book, since I kept a diary during the summer. Thereafter, transferred to McGill University and was fortunate to be accepted to GWU medical school as a college drop out.

An Opening Statement (Part 2):

I always planned on being a scientist and during medical school began working at NIH in Marshall Nierenberg's laboratory shortly after he won the Nobel Prize. I thought I wanted to be a neurosurgeon and was accepted to a program at UCSF. However, after my surgical internship I realized I wanted to focus on science and took a year off to travel, contemplate life and explore how I wanted to live. Most of the year was spent in Israel including working as a District Physician with the beduins in Southern Sinai. I returned to the states, completed a residency at UCSF and fellowship in Medical Genetics at Johns Hopkins that all provided the foundations for my research career. I have been at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for 35y and have made important contributions to the studies of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervix cancer. A study I published changed treatment of young women with abnormal Pap tests. My research has evolved to now include a major program on studying the role of the human microbiome on human diseases, such as, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, neurocognitive decline, etc. I have been NIH-funded for most of my career.
I married Etty (a PhD in Industrial Psychology) nearly 35 years ago and we have 2 children and live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Elementary School:

Shepherd (in Washington DC)

Jr. High School:

Paul Jr. High (DC), Pyle (9th grade)

Marital Status:


My Email address:

My Playlist:

Still love music, with eclectic tastes. From Gregorian Chants, Bach and other Baroque music to Blues and R&B.
Favorite group in HS and thereabouts - Jethro Tull (Ian Anderson inspired me to play the flute), Japan, Sade, Doors, BST, etc.
Currently, like Sia, Everything but the girl, Dua Lipa, Maroon5, Shawn Mendes, London Grammar.
Frequent the Sugarbar in my neighborhood (Ashford and Simpson's place) on West 72nd St.

My Parents:

My mother grew up in Boston, first generation.
My father was born in Bialystok, White Russia. He went to Palestine 1933-1938. Most of his family was murdered by the Nazi's.
Both parents are deceased.


George Washington University, School of Medicine, MD 1976.

Professional Achievement(s):

Published the first paper (NEJM, 1998) showing that most HPV infections in young women naturally disappear. This study changed medical practice by demonstrating that low grade cervical disease did not need to be treated but would spontaneously regress, since it was caused by HPV.
Created the field of HPV genomics, characterizing isolates of the oncogenic HPV types. Provided evidence that the most common HPV16 variant in Caucasian women was acquired through archaic humans having sex with Neanderthals.

My Biggest Disappointment(s):

Didn't graduate college. Didn't realize I had a learning disability.

Three words to describe myself in 1969?

Unfulfilled, curious

A Walt Whitman Story:

All the wonderful things Martha Kiefer introduced me to - skating on the C&O canal, the wonders of nature, and a bicycle trip to Harpers Ferry. Martha was an unlikely friend and we have kept in touch through the years.

My Favorite Teacher(s):

Mr. Benedik in math

What was my BEST moment at Whitman:

In 10th grade Geometry we had a very hard problem to solve and only Jeff MacGillivray and I were able to solve it. It took me 5 minutes and Jeff much longer. After I showed my solution on the blackboard I heard Jeff muttering, "very good Burk" . . .

What I loved most about Whitman:

The camaraderie amongst the student body. The academic level.

What was my WORST moment at Whitman:

When I was on the Jr. Varsity Football Team, someone stole and vandalized my bike. I felt vulnerable and bullied.

Family members who attended Whitman:


My Interests:

Hiking, Backpacking, exploring, photography, music, tennis, forest bathing.

My Favorite Book(s):

Catcher in the Rye

Famous or interesting people you've met?

Jason Robards. On a flight from Montreal to DC, I sat next to Jason Robards. We start up a conversation and I mention that my favorite line in the movie A Thousand Clowns was, "you gotta know what day it is". He immediately whips out his wallet and shows me this quote engraved on the leather. We became fast friends, he invited me to his home in DC (he was performing at the Kennedy Center) and we kept in touch for years.

How do I relax?

hiking, tennis, walking

I am a Veteran:


Philosophy of life/Credo:

It can always be worse

Last book read/Book now reading:

Mike Bodich Maine game warden series by Paul Doiron

Robbie's Latest Interactions

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Robbie Burk posted a message.
Feb 24, 2024 at 7:34 PM

Dear Deb,
I read your article. It was very heartfelt but misplaced. The people of a sovereign nation attached another nation, took civilian captives, continues to launch missiles into Israel and the world sympathizes with the attackers. Where is the outrage of the rape of Jewish women?

The issue you bring up fails to acknowledge that the Palestinians have never accepted the existence of a Jewish state, nor have the surrounding Islamic countries. What rights do Jews have in any of these countries? I have lived in Israel and provided medical care to all people in the region, without regard to any feature other than them being people.

Was there outrage at attacking the axis in WW2? Wars are horrible idiotic events in the history of mankind. No country does more to protect civilians in war than Israel. Hamas and Hizbalah purposefully place military places within civilian locals. Where is the world outrage at what Hamas has done to its own people, who elected them?

Robbie Burk has a birthday today.
Aug 20, 2023 at 4:33 AM
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Apr 09, 2023 at 2:21 PM

Posted on: Feb 01, 2023 at 12:51 PM

Dear Lisa - I believe you were friendly with Jim Monday. I have not seen posts from him and I tried to email him without a response. Do you know if he is OK?
You can email me at

Robbie Burk has a birthday today.
Aug 20, 2022 at 4:33 AM
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Mar 14, 2022 at 9:01 AM
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Jan 07, 2022 at 10:28 AM
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Oct 17, 2021 at 1:46 PM
Robbie Burk has a birthday today.
Aug 20, 2021 at 4:33 AM
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Jun 04, 2019 at 10:26 PM

Posted on: Jun 02, 2019 at 9:04 PM

Robbie Burk changed his "Now" picture.
May 19, 2019 at 3:38 PM
Robbie Burk has left an In Memory comment for Barry Segal.
Dec 07, 2017 at 8:33 AM

Although Barry lived just up the road (Wilson Blvd), I remember him best for the summer we spent together at camp. Barry was the most talented musician I have ever known. It seemed he had perfect pitch and could pick up whatever tune he heard. He could make the clarinet sing. He was one of the kids in our class of prodigous talents, it seemed that everything came easy to Barry in HS. Beating Greg in basketball doesn't exactly speak to his athletic "prowess" ;-). I remember he loved to ski and spent a lot of time on the "mountain". Sorry to hear he had Parkinson's Disease, a debilitating and degenerative disorder. Unfortunately, everything didn't come easy to him. May he continue to make music on the "other side".

Robbie Burk has left an In Memory comment for Farrell J. Wolfson.
Nov 14, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Her name came up on a web search in the 2009 NARSAD Brain and Behaviour Research Fund annual report under "Memorial Tributes".  

Robbie Burk changed his profile picture.
Sep 02, 2015 at 6:00 PM
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Sep 02, 2015 at 5:59 PM
Robbie Burk posted a message. New comment added.
May 28, 2017 at 12:24 AM

Posted on: Jun 15, 2014 at 8:09 AM

What's the cat's name?

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Posted: Jun 02, 2019 at 9:04 PM
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