• Article
  • April 20, 2016

Everyday Hero: Cardiologist Helps Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death in Kids Through Nonprofit

This cardiologist puts his efforts into preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens.

Stuart Berger, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiology at UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, is founder of Project ADAM. The national non-profit organization aims to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens through education and life-saving programs, including expanding the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam's Memory) is named in honor of a high school basketball player who died on the court due to an undiagnosed heart problem. More than 85 lives have been saved so far through Project ADAM, which has been in operation for 15 years.

Favorite way to relax: Hang out with our three Labrador Retrievers and take them out on the trails for a long run.

Biggest fear: That I lose the perspective of being thankful for all the wonderful people and things in my life. 

I'd never: Smoke a cigarette; it's really bad for you, plus my wife is a pulmonologist.

Heroes: I have three. My wife is a hero because, among other things, she has put up with me for almost 40 years. She is the prototypic example of a physician, mother, wife, leader and scientist. I wish I were as smart as she. I would not be a pediatric cardiologist if not for Rene Arcilla. He is a scholar, a brilliant diagnostician and a kind and gentle human being. Wynton Marsalis is tireless, brilliant and so eloquent on the trumpet and otherwise. He is a friend who has shown me the importance of hard work, getting educated and being an educator.

Traits you value in a colleague: Honesty, supportiveness, humility, passion and compassion

Favorite childhood memory: My parents owned and ran a grocery store that specialized in fruits and vegetables. My dad would wake me up at 3 a.m., take me to the fruit and vegetable commission houses on Broadway Street in Milwaukee, and then take me out for pancakes.

Greatest achievement: I'm not sure how much I have actually achieved, but I love to try and inspire my students and colleagues to achieve excellence and find a way to make a difference in the world.

Nominate an Everyday Hero from your hospital.