Dr. Preston Burke used to be the chief cardiothoracic surgeon at Seattle Grace Hospital on a salary of $2 million. After completing pre-medical studies at Tulane University, Burke graduated first in his class from Johns Hopkins Medical School. He was once the interim chief of surgery while Dr. Webber was healing from brain surgery.
In the second season finale he was shot, affecting his control of his right-hand. His temporary fix to this possibly long-term problem was to work together with Cristina during every one of his surgeries so that she could take over in case he might have trouble with his hand. The arrangement fell apart after Cristina, reacting to growing stress after George caught onto their secret, went to the Chief and confessed everything. Until their secret was revealed, Burke was set to become the next Chief of Surgery, but now he has to compete with his fellow attendings for the position. He has since recovered, after being operated on by Dr. Derek Shepherd.
In season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy, Preston’s long-time rival medic Dr. Erica Hahn replaced him as the head of cardiothoracic surgery. Having such, she has some respect for Burke but was infuriated when he won an medical award instead of her.