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Herbert Bonkovsky MD, FACP, FACG, FAGA, FAASLD

Herbert L. Bonkovsky MD, FACP, FACG, FAGA, FAASLD

Professor of Medicine and Professor of Molecular Medicine and Translational Science, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and NC Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Herbert L. Bonkovsky, MD, is a tenured Professor of Medicine and Molecular Medicine & Translational Research and Director of Hepatology/Liver Service Line and The Liver and Metabolic Disorders Laboratory at Wake Forest University/NC Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Bonkovsky also has academic appointments as Visiting Professor at Winston-Salem State University, Professor of Medicine at The University of CT Health Center, and Professor of Biology and Medicine at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Bonkovsky is known nationally and internationally as a clinical hepatologist, teacher, mentor, and clinical investigator. He is a valedictory graduate of Earlham College [Richmond, IN] and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine [Cleveland, OH]. His Post-graduate training was at Duke University, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, The U.S. National Institutes of Health, Dartmouth Medical School, and Yale University.

Dr. Bonkovsky formerly served as Director of the Division of Digestive Disease and Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and as Director of the Office of Clinical Research and the General Clinical Research Center and Director of the Liver- Biliary-Pancreatic Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center. He was recruited to Carolinas HealthCare System [CHS], Charlotte, NC, from U Conn in 2007 and, for 5 years, served as VP for Research at CHS. He joined the Department of Medicine, Section on Gastroenterology & Hepatology, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in January, 2015. Dr. Bonkovsky has continued to maintain an active clinical practice, focused on liver disorders and metabolic disorders, especially disorders of iron, porphyrin, and heme metabolism. His currently funded research is in porphyrin and heme metabolism, effects of heme and iron on gene expression and intermediary metabolism, and drug- and herbal supplement-induced liver injury.

Among Dr. Bonkovsky’s seminal contributions to the study of disorders of porphyrin and heme metabolism were the first preparation and therapeutic use of heme [in the form of the hydroxide, hematin] for therapy of acute porphyrias and demonstration of defective activity of ferrochelatase as the underlying cause of erythropoietic protoporphyria. Hemin for human use was the first Orphan Drug ever developed, and its use for therapy of acute porphyric syndromes has stood the test of time. Still today, it is the treatment of choice for treatment of attacks of acute porphyria.

Dr. Bonkovsky also played a key role in establishing the programs in liver transplantation both at Emory University and at U Mass Medical Center. He also was a founding member of the Liver Center at Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC, where he served for several years as VP and Director of Research. He was recruited to Wake Forest to continue with his funded research in drug-induced liver injury, disorders of porphyrin and heme metabolism, and auto-immune liver diseases, and to help build up subspecialty expertise and services in hepatology, with emphasis upon diseases of heme, porphyrin, and metal metabolism, such as hemochromatosis, hypoceruloplasminemia, Wilson’s disease, and the porphyrias. The Liver Clinics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center also evaluate and manage patients with the more commonly occurring liver diseases, such as viral hepatitis, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and auto- immune liver disorders [such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis]. Dr. Bonkovsky also serves as chief of the Liver, Digestive, and Metabolic Disorders Laboratory of Wake Forest, which has competed successfully for external funding from NIH [NIDDK, NHLBI] and from several Foundations and Societies. In the past several years, Dr. Bonkovsky has filed five patent applications for new therapies and diagnostic tests for viral hepatitis and neuro-muscular diseases.

Dr. Bonkovsky is a member of many learned and professional societies: he is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American College of Physicians, the American Gastroenterological Association, and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. He is also an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation [The Young Turks] and the Association of American Physicians [The Old Turks]. Continually since 1996, Dr. Bonkovsky has been selected by his peers as one of America’s Top Doctors and Top Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists. Dr. Bonkovsky is author or co-author of more than 390 presented abstracts, 50 brief reports, 45 books or book chapters, and 440 original, peer-reviewed papers.


Wake Forest receives funding for clinical research, for which Dr. Bonkovsky serves as the PI, from Alnylam Pharma, Gilead Sciences, and Mitsubishi-Tanabe, North America.

Within the past 3 years, Dr. Bonkovsky has served as a paid consultant for Alnylam Pharma and Recordati Rare Chemicals.

Recent Contributions to PracticeUpdate:

  1. Givosiran for Acute Intermittent Porphyria