SUNY Distinguished Professor medal.

Four Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.

Four Jacobs School Faculty Members Are Named SUNY Distinguished Professors

By UBNow Staff

Published May 3, 2024


Four Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.

Appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on April 16 were:

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.

Duffey was named a Distinguished Teaching Professor in recognition of his commitment to teaching.

According to SUNY, the candidate’s teaching mastery must be “consistently demonstrated over multiple years” and “must contribute to the discipline and to the University, the State of New York or the nation by the use of innovative pedagogy and the sustained application of intellectual skills drawing from the candidate’s scholarly and research interests.” 

Benedict, Lackner and Sethi were named Distinguished Professors in recognition of their international prominence and distinguished reputations within their chosen fields.

According to SUNY, “this distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidate’s work must be of such character that the individual’s presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields.”

Ralph Benedict.

Benedict is a pioneer in the understanding of cognitive disorders, and treatment the treatment thereof, in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

He is one of the top investigators worldwide in standardized neuropsychological testing and quantitative brain imaging used in assessing cognitive dysfunction in MS and other neurological diseases. 

Benedict’s research employs behavioral psychometrics and clinical trials to understand how cerebral disease affects personality, cognition and psychiatric stability. His research on the psychological, behavioral and cognitive attributes of MS has also shaped the field of neuropsychology more generally.

A fellow of the American Psychological Association, Benedict received the Consortium of MS Center’s 2019 Fred Foley Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to advancing research in the understanding and clinical treatment of MS, and UB’s 2022 Exceptional Scholar Award for sustained professional achievement.

He received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2015 and the Stockton Kimball Award — the Jacobs School's highest honor — in 2021.

Michael Duffey.

Duffey has demonstrated excellence in teaching, curricular development, student mentoring and academic scholarship.

His extensive contributions to graduate and medical curricula include redesigning the medical school’s curriculum into an integrated curriculum with organ system-based modules for first- and second-year medical students.

He developed and is module leader for the course “Gastrointestinal Systems,” which integrates metabolism, genetics and nutrition in both health and disease.

Duffey co-founded the interdisciplinary graduate program in biomedical sciences, a revolutionary umbrella curriculum that unified six graduate basic science programs and has served as a model for other institutions.

As director for physiology graduate studies, he developed and revised the physiology and biophysics curriculum.

Duffey is also the recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2019.

Jeffrey M. Lackner.

Lackner is an international expert in the field of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for the treatment of gastrointestinal and chronic pain disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The behavioral self-treatment he developed at UB is regarded as one of the most effective treatments of any type (drugs, dietary) for IBS.

He validated a four-stage pain processing model for understanding how specific aspects of pain interact to influence symptom burden, and his team was the first worldwide to use brain imaging techniques to characterize the neural correlates of CBT’s improvements in GI symptoms.

Lackner’s work on nonpharmacological approaches to chronic pain has dramatically changed clinical practice guidelines in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

A fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Lackner received a 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.

Sanjay Sethi.

Sethi, assistant vice president for health sciences in the Jacobs School, is an internationally regarded pulmonologist with a primary clinical and research interest in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death worldwide.

Sethi has been recognized as one of the top five COPD specialists since 2013 by Expertscape.

He examines whether new bacterial strains are causative of COPD exacerbations, the role of innate immunity, inflammation without infection and important bacterial strains in the respiratory tract in acute exacerbations of COPD.

His contributions have fundamentally altered our understanding of bacteria and the microbiomes role in COPD and have had a profound impact on the treatment of COPD and respiratory infections.

He is the recipient of a 2020 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.