Pilot studies co-director named SUNY Distinguished Professor

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Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor and vice chair of ophthalmology, and co-director of the CTSI's Translational Pilot Studies Program

Published June 12, 2018

Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor, vice chair of ophthalmology and co-director of the CTSI Translational Pilot Studies Program, is one of four Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty who have been appointed to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor.

“This represents a huge honor for me and recognition of my lab’s contributions to science over the course of my academic research career.”
Steven J. Fliesler, PhD
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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.

Fliesler is renowned vision scientist

An internationally renowned vision scientist, Fliesler is considered the world’s leading expert on cholesterol metabolism in the retina.

“This represents a huge honor for me and recognition of my lab’s contributions to science over the course of my academic research career,” said Fliesler, a UB faculty member since 2008. “I accept this in collective recognition of the many wonderful collaborators with whom I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of working over the years.”

Fliesler’s research was instrumental in describing for the first time the involvement of the lipid intermediate pathway in glycoprotein synthesis in the human retina and the importance of protein glycosylation for normal retinal photoreceptor cell differentiation.

His research also demonstrated cholesterol’s role in the development and function of the retina, leading to his studies of retinal degeneration in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), a birth defect resulting in profound dysmorphic and cognitive abnormalities. He is credited with developing the first successful animal model for the disease, allowing him to demonstrate the feasibility of a new therapy for SLOS and potentially representing a major improvement over the current standard of care.

Fliesler’s work has been published in more than 120 peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals. His work has been continuously funded for more than three decades, with funding totaling nearly $30 million.

Fliesler is currently president of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He was previously president of the International Society for Eye Research. He is a Research Career Scientist at the VA Western NY Healthcare System.

Fliesler earned his doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University and his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine.