Expert Vision Scientist Elected to ARVO Leadership Post

Published June 21, 2017 This content is archived.

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD.

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD

story by dirk hoffman

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, UB Distinguished Professor and Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of ophthalmology, has been elected to a leadership post in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

World’s Leading Eye, Vision Research Organization


Fliesler, who is also vice-chairman and director of research for the Department of Ophthalmology, was elected president-elect for 2017-2018 and will serve as president in 2018-2019 and immediate past president in 2019-2020. ARVO is the world’s largest eye and vision research organization.

The director of research for the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center, Fliesler has been a member of ARVO since 1974, having joined as a graduate student while he was pursuing his doctoral degree at Rice University. He was working on lipid metabolism in the retina, an area he continues to study today as a Research Career Scientist at the VA Western NY Healthcare System. 

“Some colleagues at the Cullen Eye Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine had urged me to become a member, since I was planning on pursuing eye research as a career and ARVO is the world’s leading eye and vision research professional society,” he says.

One of those colleagues — Robert E. Anderson, MD, PhD — a world-renowned leader in the field of lipid metabolism in the eye, would subsequently become Fliesler’s postdoctoral research mentor at the Cullen Eye Institute.

Election Puts Fliesler in Select Company

Fliesler previously served in leadership positions of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER), the world’s second largest eye and vision research professional society.

Fliesler is one of only four individuals to serve as president of both ARVO and ISER.

Two of the three others were his former postdoctoral research advisers — Anderson and Joe G. Hollyfield, PhD.

“Both of these former mentors have encouraged and supported my professional development throughout my entire career, and I can say with certainty that I would not be where I am today without their guidance, encouragement, and assistance,” Fliesler says.

Previously Inducted as Gold Fellow by Association

Fliesler was elected to the ARVO Board of Trustees in 2014 by members of his scientific section within the organization (Retinal Cell Biology).

He also was formally inducted as an ARVO Gold Fellow in 2014, placing him in an elite group of international vision researchers. The association’s gold-tier honorees represent the top 1 percent of its nearly 12,000 members from more than 75 countries.

“Personally, being elected to serve ARVO in these capacities is a huge honor for me —  but perhaps more importantly, this provides me with an opportunity to give back to the eye and vision research community that has been my professional ‘home’ and has helped me develop as a scientist over my entire professional career,” Fliesler says.

“Professionally, being president of ARVO puts me in a position to help steer the course and future development of ARVO, as well as to have a voice in national and international affairs that impact the eye and vision research community,” he adds.

Duties Include Determining Initiatives to be Undertaken

The president-elect’s key responsibilities include serving as an ex officio member of all ARVO committees and as a regular member of some committees, and determining the initiatives to be undertaken while president, according to Katrina Norfleet, ARVO’s director of communications.

Key responsibilities of the president include:

  • working with executive vice president and executive director to develop board meeting agendas
  • presiding over all Board of Trustees’ meetings
  • calling and presiding over Executive Committee meetings
  • sitting as an ex officio member on all committees
  • setting the theme for the annual meeting
  • representing ARVO at key meetings and other professional groups

Fliesler’s election as president-elect took place at the ARVO annual meeting May 7-11 in Baltimore.