Published February 1, 2018
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, has been appointed editor-in-chief of Experimental Eye Research and also has received the Dean’s Award in Neuroscience and Ophthalmology from Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center New Orleans.
Fliesler, UB Distinguished Professor and Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of ophthalmology, began his new role as editor-in-chief of Experimental Eye Research — the official journal of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER) — on Jan. 1.
The journal is one of the highest impact international publications devoted specifically to eye and vision research. It features work on all aspects of experimental biology of the eye and ocular tissues that seek to define the mechanisms of normal function and disease.
“Steven Fliesler is a very good choice for editor-in-chief,” says outgoing editor-in-chief Joe G. Hollyfield, PhD, who served in the role for more than two decades. “I first met him when he was just finishing graduate school, and I have followed his work ever since.”
Fliesler, who was recruited by Hollyfield to the journal’s Executive Editorial Board in 1995, has served as the journal’s Retina and Choroid Section Editor, Focus on Molecules Feature Editor and its Reviews and Special Issues Editor.
“He’s done a very good job,” says Hollyfield, adding: “He gives lectures on scientific ethics and has given a number of international presentations about the ethics of scientific publishing.”
“It was a natural progression for him to become editor-in-chief.”
Fliesler has been a member of ISER — an international platform for discussion and exchange of ideas on contemporary topics in eye and vision research — since 1984. He has held the positions of councilor for North America, treasurer, president-elect, president and immediate past president.
As the 2017 recipient of the Dean’s Award in Neuroscience and Ophthalmology from LSU Health New Orleans, Fliesler presented an award lecture on Nov. 13.
“The award that Dr. Fliesler has received recognizes his outstanding scientific excellence,” says Nicolas G. Bazan, MD, PhD, director of the LSUHSC Neuroscience Center of Excellence.
Prior recipients of this award have included more than a dozen Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Specifically, Dr. Fliesler was recognized because of his innovative research approaches to understand the significance of cholesterol and its metabolism for sight. He creatively and elegantly unraveled, as a pioneer, molecules that determine retinal integrity necessary for sight,” emphasizes Bazan.
Fliesler’s award lecture, “Cholesterol and the Retina: The Never-Ending Story,” described the results of experimental studies aimed at understanding the fundamental biology of cholesterol in the vertebrate retina, with emphasis on the impact of cholesterol deficiency on the structure and function of the retina. He discussed an intervention that prevents retinal degeneration caused by disruption of cholesterol synthesis, and he examined the clinical-translational implications of these findings.
The dean’s award lecture series began in 1985, when Francis Crick, co-winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, first delivered it.
The Dean’s Award in Neuroscience and Ophthalmology also “recognizes Dr. Fliesler’s talent as a mentor and a major leader in the vision, ophthalmology, medical and scientific community,” says Bazan.
“He is an inspirational leader for future generations,” he notes.
Members of Fliesler’s lab agree that he is a gifted leader and mentor.
“I have been working in Dr. Fliesler’s lab for almost two years now, and in that time I have definitely improved both technically and scientifically with his mentoring,” says Lara Skelton, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher.
Skelton chose UB for her postdoctoral work because she had previous experience with epithelial cell biology, and working in the Fliesler laboratory was, as she puts it, “a perfect fit.”
“UB is a great school, and Buffalo is a special place to live,” she says. “Dr. Fliesler’s depth of knowledge is remarkable, and he teaches with enthusiasm.”
Fliesler is president-elect of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the world’s largest eye and vision research organization. He is also a member of the ARVO board of trustees.
His lab is focused on studies of retinal degenerations caused by metabolic defects, particularly dyslipidemias involving defective cholesterol metabolism, using pharmacological and transgenic animal models. He has expertise in areas including molecular and cellular biology, apoptosis and cell death, molecular basis of disease, neurobiology and transgenic organisms.
Fliesler has authored 122 peer-reviewed publications and more than a dozen book chapters and books.
He is vice-chair and director of research for the Department of Ophthalmology. Additionally, he is a Research Career Scientist at the VA Western NY Healthcare System, where he directs its vision research center.