Published November 12, 2014
Avery K. Ellis, MD ’77, PhD ’79, MBA, senior associate dean for medical curriculum at the University at Buffalo and an associate professor of medicine and physiology, died suddenly Friday in Chicago, where he was attending a medical conference.
He was 64.
At UB, Ellis coordinated and implemented all activities related to the medical school’s curriculum, including development, educational research, outcome evaluation and instructional enhancements.
“He was instrumental in bringing innovative approaches to our always evolving medical curriculum, ensuring that our students receive an outstanding education.
“We relied on Dr. Ellis’ thoughtful counsel related to advancements in our medical educational programs, particularly in the areas of outcomes assessment and teaching effectiveness,” Cain added.
“We will miss him as a colleague, teacher and friend.”
Prior to assuming the medical curriculum deanship in 2008, Ellis directed UB’s cardiology fellowship and served as chief of staff at the VA Western New York Healthcare System, where he was responsible for a budget of tens of millions of dollars.
One of Ellis’ longtime UB colleagues recalled him as a dedicated teacher, mentor and colleague.
“Teaching was one of Avery’s passions, and he was a master at it,” said David Milling, MD ’93, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs.
“He had a critical impact on our medical students’ education — especially, but not limited to, the preclinical years.
“In the Office of Medical Education, he was an integral team member. His unique sense of humor was known to all of us, and we will miss him dearly.”
Second-year medical student Sam Racette described Ellis as the ideal medical school professor.
“Not only was Dr. Ellis extraordinarily gifted at integrating basic science concepts into the clinical setting, but he was a role model who showed us how the best doctors think and reason.
"He will be missed for many reasons, but his abilities in the classroom make him irreplaceable.”
A Buffalo native, Ellis graduated from Cornell University and received his doctorate in physiology and medical degree from UB.
He completed his residency and cardiology fellowship at Stanford University Hospital.
In 1999, he received a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University.
A fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, Ellis was a member of the American Society of Echocardiography and the New York State Cardiology Society.
Surviving Ellis are his wife of 40 years, the former Nitza Farhi; two sons, Robert A. and Noah D.; his mother, Mary Ann; a brother, Neil R.; and a sister, Laura.
Funeral services were held at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo.