4 Jacobs School Faculty Named SUNY Distinguished Professor

Published June 6, 2018

Four Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty have been appointed to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor.

The highest faculty rank in the SUNY system, this prestigious honor is presented to individuals who have achieved national or international prominence in their fields.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

The new SUNY Distinguished Professors — whose accomplishments are described below — are:

Andreadis is Expert in Stem Cell Engineering

Stelios Andreadis, PhD

Stelios Andreadis, PhD

An internationally recognized leader in the field of stem cell engineering, Andreadis has made a series of fundamental and translational contributions at the forefront of bioengineering and regenerative medicine.

“Being named SUNY Distinguished Professor is a tremendous honor, and I am grateful to my colleagues at UB and the chemical engineering and bioengineering communities for their recognition and support over the years,” said Andreadis, who is also professor and chair of chemical and biological engineering. “I am also grateful to a number of talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows whose dedication and hard work have been driving our research over the years.”

Andreadis is well known for research involving the use of stem cells for cardiovascular tissue engineering. His laboratory engineered small-diameter, vascular grafts using human stem cells and biomolecule-decorated biomaterials.  

He also discovered that stem cell aging could be reversed using a single pluripotency factor, a discovery with significant implications in the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine. More recently, his laboratory discovered that the epidermis is a source of neural crest stem cells, which can be coaxed to differentiate into neurons, glial cells, melanocytes, muscle, bone and cartilage.  

A UB faculty member since 1998, Andreadis has a record of continuous, peer-reviewed funding, having received more than $20 million in research support from public and private sources. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings and delivered more than 75 invited lectures nationally and internationally.

He is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Additionally, he was named a recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2014, and he received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2000 and the Whitaker Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1999.

Andreadis received a doctorate in chemical engineering and master’s degrees in chemical engineering and mathematics from the University of Michigan. He completed postdoctoral research work at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Aristotle University in Greece.

Cohan is Revered for Teaching Excellence

Christopher S. Cohan, PhD

Christopher S. Cohan, PhD

Cohan was named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in honor of his mastery of teaching and outstanding service to students.

A UB faculty member since 1986, Cohan is a seven-time winner of the Jacobs School’s Louis and Ruth Siegel Award for excellence in teaching and has been recognized eight times with the Commendation for Teaching Excellence. A recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, he was also an honorary inductee into the New York Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.

“I feel so honored to be recognized for this award for my teaching, but I also recognize and I am so grateful for the support I have received here at UB,” Cohan said. “My teaching has been shaped to a great extent by the many wonderful teachers and students here, who have helped me become a better teacher.”

Cohan directs the Brain Museum, one of a few collections in the country that displays brain specimens to teach students neuroanatomy. The museum draws visitors from around the world.

Cohan created Human Neuroscience — one of the first formal interdisciplinary courses in the school’s basic science curriculum — in 1993. His Neuroscience and Behavior module for second-year medical students integrates diverse subject matter in basic neuroscience, clinical neurology and psychiatry. He is also past chair and current member of the curriculum committee.

Cohan earned his doctorate in anatomy from Case Western Reserve University and his bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics from the University at Albany. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa.

Fliesler is Renowned Vision Scientist

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

An internationally renowned vision scientist, Fliesler is considered the world’s leading expert on cholesterol metabolism in the retina.

“This represents a huge honor for me and recognition of my lab’s contributions to science over the course of my academic research career,” said Fliesler, a UB faculty member since 2008. “I accept this in collective recognition of the many wonderful collaborators with whom I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of working over the years.”

Fliesler’s research was instrumental in describing for the first time the involvement of the lipid intermediate pathway in glycoprotein synthesis in the human retina and the importance of protein glycosylation for normal retinal photoreceptor cell differentiation. His research also demonstrated cholesterol’s role in the development and function of the retina, leading to his studies of retinal degeneration in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), a birth defect resulting in profound dysmorphic and cognitive abnormalities. He is credited with developing the first successful animal model for this disease, allowing him to demonstrate the feasibility of a new therapy for SLOS and potentially representing a major improvement over the current standard of care.

Fliesler’s work has been published in more than 120 peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals. His work has been continuously funded for more than three decades, with funding totaling nearly $30 million.

Fliesler is currently president of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He was previously president of the International Society for Eye Research. He is a Research Career Scientist at the VA Western NY Healthcare System.

Fliesler earned his doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University and his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine.

Yan Has Studied Brain Disorders

Zhen Yan, PhD

Yan is a pre-eminent experimental neurobiologist in the field of cellular and synaptic neurosciences linked to diseases such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“I appreciate this recognition of the prominence of my research,” said Yan, a faculty member since 2000. “This honor will inspire me to continue scientific discoveries to tackle various brain disorders and make lasting contributions to mankind.”

With more than 11,700 citations and an H-index of 59, Yan is considered by her peers to be a leading authority among molecular and cellular neurobiologists making substantial links to broader issues in mental health and illness. She has made important advances delineating the genes and molecular mechanisms underlying neurological disorders with major findings including epigenetics-based treatment strategies for synaptic and behavioral deficits in autism, stress-associated psychiatric disorders and Alzheimer’s.

Since 2000, Yan has been awarded more than 20 grants as the principal investigator, totaling nearly $18 million. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed papers in high-impact scientific journals.

She earned her doctorate from the University of Tennessee and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University.

The four were among just 15 SUNY faculty members statewide appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on March 22.