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Jacques 'Jack' Berlin, Health Department research scientist known as 'the bug doc'

Oct. 21, 1936 — March 16, 2018

Jacques “Jack” Berlin, a research scientist who was known as "the bug doc" for his expertise in insects and the diseases they cause, died March 16 at Buffalo General Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 81.

Dr. Berlin moved to Western New York in 1970 and worked as a research scientist for the New York State Department of Health for more than 30 years. During that time, he was also an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College and later a research associate professor in the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine at the University at Buffalo.

Known as “the bug doc,” Dr. Berlin was a fixture on local television, radio and in newspapers, including The Buffalo News, for over a decade, starting in 1990. He provided information on how to protect against ticks and mosquitoes, the safe and effective use of pesticides, and updates on insect borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Dr. Berlin was born in Detroit, where he graduated from Mackinac High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Iowa State University, where he met and married his wife, Lorna.

In 1960, Dr. Berlin entered the U.S. Navy as an ensign in public health and was assigned to the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. He was involved in planning early mosquito control efforts in Florida and performed health inspections on naval vessels in the southeastern United States and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After completing his Navy service as a lieutenant, Dr. Berlin studied preventative medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, earning a PhD in 1970.

In addition to his professional associations, Dr. Berlin was very involved in Amherst Presbyterian Church for 47 years, serving as clerk of session, trustee and deacon. He was his congregation's delegate to the Western New York Presbytery, where he was on the committee on ministry. He also served on the church's pastoral nominating committee and was an officer for the Presbytery’s Christian Education Resource Center. He was also the maitre d’ of the annual chicken barbecue, the church’s resident technology expert and all-around handyman.

A scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 262 and a Joe McCarthy Little League coach, he also was active in the Western New York Computer Society and the American Legion.

Dr. Berlin was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Public Health Association, Entomological Society of America, Canada and Ontario, Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, Gamma Sigma Delta (The Honor Society of Agriculture), Pi Chi Omega (Fraternity of the Advancement of Structural Pest Control) and Sigma Xi (The Scientific Research Society of North America).

His wife died in 2012. He is survived by a son, John P. Berlin; daughter, Amy K. Gerber; two brothers, Richard and Larry Berlin, and eight grandchildren.

His funeral was March 24 in Amherst Presbyterian Church, 151 S. Youngs Road.

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