SUNY Chancellor’s Awards Given to Jacobs Faculty, Staff

Published October 15, 2021

story based on news release by ubnow staff

Two Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members and one staff member have been selected as recipients of 2021 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.


The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide systemwide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement, and they encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

Jian Feng, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics; and John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics; were both awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, which recognizes the work of those who engage actively in scholarly and creative pursuits beyond their teaching responsibilities.

Karen L. Zinnerstrom, PhD, administrative director of the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Clinical Competency Center and Behling Human Simulation Center, was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, which honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.”

Dedicated Career to Studying Parkinson’s Disease

Jian Feng, PhD

A UB faculty member since 2000, Feng is is an internationally renowned scientist who has dedicated his career to studying Parkinson’s disease.

He conducts research into the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the disease and is a leading expert into how stem cells can be used to better understand and treat it.

His laboratory has created a technology that could enable the generation of large quantities of specific types of mature human cells in order to study a number of diseases that gravely affect humans, such as malaria and COVID-19.

Feng is director of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility and holds an appointment as a research scientist at the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System.

Several Novel Stem Cell Technologies Developed

Feng has received more than $17 million of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Affairs Administration and New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM).

His laboratory was the first to generate induced pluripotent stem cells from Parkinson’s disease patients with parkin mutations. He has discovered critical functions of the Parkinson’s disease gene parkin and his laboratory has developed a number of novel stem cell technologies to advance Parkinson’s disease research.

In 2017, Feng was awarded a UB Exceptional Scholars Sustained Achievement Award. A member of Faculty of 1000, he serves as associate editor in the Stem Cell Biology section of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Internationally Known for Concussion Research

John J. Leddy, MD

In addition to his position as clinical professor of orthopaedics, Leddy holds an appointment as a professor of rehabilitation sciences in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. He also serves as medical director of the University at Buffalo Concussion Management Clinic, where patients include players from the National Football League and the National Hockey League.

Leddy is internationally known for his research, conducted with co-investigator Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, into the best ways of diagnosing and treating concussion, especially in adolescents.

Together they developed the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test, which is changing the way that concussed adolescents are treated. The exercise test helps determine at what level of activity a patient’s symptoms worsen and helps doctors understand when it’s safe for an athlete to return to play following a concussion.

‘Landmark Study’ May Affect Standard of Care

In 2019, Leddy and Willer published in JAMA Pediatrics their findings from the first randomized clinical trial of exercise treatment in the acute phase after a sport-related concussion. The journal called it “a landmark study.”

A fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Physicians, Leddy is also a member of the Expert Panel for the Berlin Fifth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport. A fellow of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, he is the recipient of its Best Overall Research Award.

He is a Division I team physician at UB, a physician with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, and a consultant to the National Institutes of Health on sport concussion research.

Oversees Operation of Two Training Centers

Karen L. Zinnerstrom, PhD

Zinnerstrom is responsible for the implementation, coordination and evaluation of training programs and curricula used at the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Clinical Competency Center and the Behling Human Simulation Center.

Colleagues cite her “passion for her work, advocacy for utilizing standardized clinical scenarios in education, generosity with her time, flexibility to work out logistics in a complex organization, collaborative nature and expertise.”

Zinnerstrom is in charge of identifying methods and content to ensure the delivery of quality programs that develop highly competent medical professionals. In addition, she participates in projects and research activities in collaboration with Jacobs School faculty and other health science professionals to ensure the delivery of performance-based assessment and teaching. She also generates statistical data and reports that help faculty assess student progress.

She has co-developed new patient scenarios for each of the courses’ active learning sessions, as well as trained actors serving as “standardized patients” to interact with students, developed trainee evaluations and ensured the seamless flow of patient encounters.

Contributed to Papers on Standardized Patients

Zinnerstrom has overseen the clinical competency training of thousands of students and residents, not only in the Jacobs School but also in UB’s other health sciences schools. She is praised by colleagues for demonstrating “flexibility, adaptability and outstanding troubleshooting and communication skills.”

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Zinnerstrom is a dedicated scholar, co-authoring 13 papers or proceedings and four workshop presentations.

She has contributed to papers explaining how to incorporate standardized patients into interprofessional learning, how to use standardized patient encounters to teach longitudinal continuity of care in a family medicine clerkship, and how to train standardized patients to be representative of the LGBT community.