Published May 26, 2016
Three Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members have been named State University of New York Distinguished Professors.
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:
One of the world’s leading clinical cardiac electrophysiologists and an expert in cardiac arrhythmias, Curtis was named a SUNY Distinguished Professor in recognition of her academic achievements.
An internationally renowned clinical investigator and scholar, her pioneering research has transformed the evaluation and treatment of heart disease patients worldwide.
She has been involved with 89 clinical trials and research studies as principal investigator, co-investigator, sponsor or steering committee member.
She also has published more than 289 peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, reviews and editorials as well as a book on cardiac pacing.
In addition, Curtis has been a key contributor to guidelines on atrial fibrillation issued by the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines.
Her accomplishments have garnered numerous accolades, including the 2012 Walter Bleifeld Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution in Clinical Research in Cardiology from the International Academy of Cardiology. In 2015, she was named one of Business First’s 100 most powerful women in Western New York.
Curtis joined the UB faculty in 2010 as the inaugural Mary and Charles Bauer Professor, chair of the Department of Medicine, and president and CEO of UBMD Internal Medicine.
She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and Heart Rhythm Society, of which she is also a former president.
She earned her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University.
Heffner was named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in honor of his mastery of teaching and outstanding service to students.
An internationally respected educator, scholar and clinician, he has taught more than 9,000 students during his career.
His dedication in the classroom has earned him three Louis and Ruth Siegel Award Commendations for Teaching Excellence from UB’s medical school, the 2013 Meritorious Service Award from the American Association of Neuropathologists and a special recognition for teaching from the UB medical school class of 2007.
A UB faculty member since 1976, Heffner has distinguished himself in leadership capacities at the university, serving as chair of pathology and anatomical sciences from 1996 until 2002 and again from 2007 to 2011.
As assistant dean for curriculum in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, he played a major role in the design and implementation of the school’s new organ-based medical curriculum.
Heffner is a fellow of the College of American Pathologists. He earned his medical degree and bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
An internationally recognized expert in neuropathic pain, Lema was named a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in honor of his extraordinary service to the community.
He has devoted much of his career to developing and teaching new pain-relief techniques and is a leading authority in pain management and end-of-life care.
His work has had an instrumental impact on policy and practice in the areas of palliative care and anesthesiology, and his pioneering efforts advanced a new direction in the field of anesthesiology that is widely recognized.
Lema has served as chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1987, and he has chaired the UB Department of Anesthesiology since 2001. He is a former president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA) and the Erie County Medical Society.
Among his most notable achievements as ASA president was launching a sweeping reorganization of the group that expanded member services, improved financial performance, increased the experience and diversity of the staff and instituted significant international outreach programs.
He has published widely, contributing more than 175 articles in his field. He has been a member of 10 editorial boards for major journals and served as section editor of the award-winning clinical text “The American Society of Anesthesiologists: A Century of Challenges and Progress.”
Lema has received numerous awards for his dedication to the field of anesthesiology, including both the ASA’s and NYSSA’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest tribute offered by both groups; the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; and selection by the NYSSA to deliver the esteemed 38th E.A. Rovenstine Memorial Lecture.
He earned a medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, a doctorate in physiology from UB and a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College, which awarded him the LaSalle Medal at this year’s commencement ceremony. Lema also trained in anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.