Published July 1, 2014
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of ophthalmology; Elad I. Levy, MD, professor and chair of neurosurgery; and Alan J. Lesse, MD, associate professor of medicine, have received 2014 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.
The annual awards, presented in seven categories, recognize exemplary faculty and staff throughout the State University of New York’s 64 institutions.
Fliesler and Levy were recognized for outstanding scholarship; Lesse was honored for teaching excellence.
Fliesler, an internationally recognized scientist and leader in his field, is currently president of the International Society for Eye Research.
He directs research for UB’s Ira G. Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center, housed in the VA Western New York Healthcare System, where Fliesler is a research health scientist.
In addition, Fliesler is vice chair and director of research for UB’s Department of Ophthalmology.
Fliesler has been studying cholesterol metabolism in the retina for more than 30 years. For the past two decades, the National Institutes of Health has funded his pioneering studies into retinal dysfunction and degeneration associated with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a rare but sometimes deadly birth defect.
On the UB faculty since 2008, he was honored as a 2014 ARVO Gold Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Levy’s research interests focus on developing new and better treatments for patients with stroke and stroke symptoms due to atherosclerotic disease of intracranial and extracranial vessels. He has been invited to teach interventional courses during major national meetings that focus on stroke revascularization and interventional spinal surgical techniques.
A UB faculty member since 2004, he has participated in clinical research studies on synthetic bone, carotid artery revascularization and stents. He recently joined a study investigating concussion injury as it relates to blood flow physiology of the brain.
He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and was recently appointed editor of the endovascular section for Neurosurgery.
Levy also founded and leads the nonprofit organization PUCCS (Program for Understanding Childhood Concussion and Stroke), which has raised $300,000 for concussion research and education.
As vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine, Lesse works with UB medical trainees at all levels — from first-year medical students to senior fellows specializing in infectious disease.
Since joining the UB faculty in 1987, he has received multiple honors for teaching, including the pharmacology and toxicology 2011 Faculty Teaching Award.
Lesse is also chief of infectious disease for the VA Western New York Healthcare System.
He studies staphylococcal infections — particularly complications related to S. aureus bloodstream infections — using advanced molecular biology techniques to identify bacterial virulence factors.
With a colleague at the University of Rochester, he is using bioinformatics and database design to analyze three years of clinical data on S. aureus bacteremia in the Buffalo area. This project involves sequencing hundreds of bacteremia isolates of S. aureus to identify the genomic architectures associated with more severe complications and poor clinical outcomes.