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HomeATS CommunityWho's Who ▶ Who's Who: Mary Berlik Rice, MD, MPH
Who's Who: Mary Berlik Rice, MD, MPH

  • Your full title as you’d like it to appear.

Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee


  • Three statements about you – two true, one false(We tease each new Who’s Who with statements about each featured person – two of which are true, one of which is false, all to be revealed in the last answer.)

I speak Dutch fluently.
I am an identical twin.
I got caught in an avalanche while visiting a glacier in Norway and hid behind a boulder.


  • Give us your ‘elevator pitch’ biography.

I grew up in the Netherlands and Singapore and studied environmental science and public policy as an undergraduate. My first job was as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co in New York City.  I then switched gears and decided to pursue a career in medicine and public health. I specialized in pulmonary and critical care because I am fascinated by the interplay between humanity and the environment, and the lungs are especially sensitive to the environment. I now spend the majority of my time conducting research on air pollution and other environmental exposures and respiratory health. One of the most rewarding experiences of my career so far has been the opportunity to engage on national air quality and climate policy issues through the ATS environmental health policy committee.


  • What would you tell yourself as an Early Career Professional?

I think some of the most useful advice I got as a fellow was at the ATS Women’s Luncheon, Speak up, don’t be shy! Don’t doubt yourself.”  If you go to a conference or symposium, ask a question! Others will be glad you asked, and will know that you were interested and engaged.  If there is someone senior to you whose work or accomplishments you admire, introduce yourself. Ask that person a question or arrange a meeting and tell him or her about yourself and your interests. Not only will you learn from that person’s experiences, you may make a new connection that can lead to new opportunities that you never anticipated. 


  • If you weren’t in medicine, and were in a different industry altogether, what would you be?

I would be a forest ecologist. I love walking through the forest and piecing together the history of the landscape.


  • What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

It depends on the season! In the winter, it would be cross country or downhill skiing in New England with my family. In the summer and fall, I love to go hiking and camping with my husband and kids in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.ski_img_2335.jpeg


  • What areas of medicine are you most excited to see develop?

I am excited to see an expansion of treatments and interventions for COPD that improve quality of life and life expectancy, much like we have witnessed for asthma in the last few decades


  • What is one advancement in your field you’d like to see in your career?

I would like to see pulmonologists and health care professionals become thought leaders on the issue of climate change. I think it is within our reach for the medical profession to move the global economy  away from fossil fuel combustion for energy for the sake of clean air and human health. We have made a powerful stance against tobacco. We can make an equally powerful stance against fossil fuel burning. But to do so, we need to stop thinking of climate change as a political issue and recognize it as a public health problem.


  • Ok. Which statement did you make up?rice_family.jpg

I am not an identical twin. I do have boy-girl twins. They are of course not identical, yet people often ask if they are (?!!).