Russo, Weinstock-Guttman Attain SUNY’s Highest Rank

Published May 12, 2021

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

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Thomas A. Russo, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine, and Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of neurology, were appointed to the distinguished professor rank by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its April meeting.

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.

Russo and Weinstock-Guttman were both 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.”

Key Role in Educating Public About Managing COVID-19

Thomas A. Russo, MD

Russo is chief of the Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases and is an international expert on the diagnosis, nature, and treatment of bacterial infection.

He has produced foundational research focusing on extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and a new hypervirulent pathotype of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Russo’s research has identified factors that are essential for bacteria to cause infections. This information is being used to develop vaccines and novel treatment modalities.

He has authored more than 150 research articles, editorials, commentaries and book chapters.

His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Russo has educated and informed the university, health care providers, the public and businesses about how best to manage this evolving crisis. He has become such a familiar source for local, national and international media reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic that The Buffalo News deemed him “Buffalo’s Dr. Fauci.”

Russo teaches medical students in lecture settings and small-group sessions, and teaches clinical patient care to medical students, residents and fellows at the Buffalo VA Medical Center (Buffalo VAMC). In addition, he mentors students, residents and fellows in his laboratory.

As a practicing physician at UBMD Internal Medicine, he cares for hospitalized patients at the Buffalo VAMC.

Awarded UB’s Highest Honor in 2021

Among his numerous awards are the SUNY Inventor Award, recognition as one of UB’s Top 100 principal investigators, and the Stockton Kimball Award for consistent academic accomplishment, significant research discoveries and contributions to the progress of UB and the Jacobs School. 

Most recently, he was awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB’s highest honor, at the Jacobs School commencement ceremony on April 30.

Earning his undergraduate degree from Tufts University and his medical degree from McGill University, Russo completed a clinical and research fellowship in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School and Tufts-New England Medical Center.

He was a senior staff fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s Laboratory of Clinical Investigation for five years before joining the UB faculty in 1994.

Leading Expert on MS in Adults and Children

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, PhD

Weinstock-Guttman is an internationally known neuroscientist and leading expert on multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults and children.

Director of UB’s Jacobs Multiple Sclerosis Center for Treatment and Research at UBMD Neurology, and executive director of the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium, Weinstock-Guttman has made foundational contributions to understanding MS as related to diet, age, gender and race.

Her studies to identify the impact of the disease on Black Americans led to a paradigm shift in patient care, and her research has led to groundbreaking correlations of serum lipid proinflammatory activities and body weight, with disability and brain imaging outcomes in MS.

She identified a proinflammatory diet in adolescents as an important risk factor for MS onset, and her work first identified serum biomarkers for MS. 

Her Research Cited More Than 31,000 Times

A UB faculty member since 1998, Weinstein-Guttman has received two awards from the National MS Society: the Stephen H. Kelly Award in 2011 and the Impact Award for Research in 2018.

At UB, Weinstock-Guttman received the Stockton Kimball Award in 2020 and was honored with the UB Exceptional Scholars – Sustained Achievement Award in 2013.

A prolific researcher — she has published 474 peer-reviewed papers and reviews, 13 book chapters, 45 review articles, 436 abstracts, 122 grants and given multiple invited presentations — her productivity puts her in the top 1 percent of clinical neuroscientists in the world. Her work, which has appeared in highly esteemed medical journals, has been cited more than 31,000 times.

She has been a reviewer for 11 journals, as well as an ad hoc reviewer for the National Institutes of Health.

Weinstock-Guttman completed a neuroimmunology fellowship at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research at the Cleveland Clinic.

She completed a neurology residency at Tel Aviv University and received her medical degree from the University of Bucharest.