This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

New chairs bring world-class medical expertise to UB, WNY

  • Anne Curtis

  • Margarita Dubocovich

  • Animesh Sinha

  • John Tomaszewski

  • Lawrence Wrabetz

Published: June 30, 2011

A new cadre of leaders is at the helm of departments throughout the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Of the 26 academic departments in the medical school, nearly half are either being led by new chairs or are actively engaged in a search for one.

Since being named dean of the UB medical school in 2006, when he came to UB from Washington University in St. Louis, Michael E. Cain has appointed half a dozen new chairs and high-level physician-scientists, many from outside the state. Four additional searches for chairs are now under way in the departments of Neurology, Gynecology-Obstetrics, Radiology, and Microbiology and Immunology.

New leadership, Cain says, is a critical piece of his strategic vision for the medical school and will have a dramatic effect on all of the school’s missions: educating tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences, conducting innovative research and performing outstanding clinical care for the people of Western New York.

The new recruits also are filling some gaps in both research and clinical care. With the passage of the NYSUNY 2020 bill in the state legislature last week that approved UB’s proposal to construct a new medical school in downtown Buffalo, the department chairs will be taking an active role in planning the school’s move into a new state-of-the-art-facility.

“Department chairs are the keystone of a school of medicine,” explains Cain. “It is our responsibility to recruit a new breed of visionary department leaders to fulfill our mission of advancing health and wellness for the people of New York state and the world.

“We will do this by educating tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences, conducting innovative research and providing outstanding clinical care to Western New York. These new recruits will build robust departments of exceptional basic scientists, educators and clinicians who will, in turn, attract the best students.”

Cain says Western New York also stands to gain from the new clinical expertise the chairs and their faculty bring to the community through UBMD—the practice plan through which UB faculty physicians provide care to patients—and through the local hospitals, where UB faculty and more than 800 medical residents work as attending physicians.

“These physicians and scientists are bringing their world-class expertise directly to the people of Western New York, when they care for patients served through UBMD and through our hospital partners,” says Cain, who, in addition to being dean, will assume the position of UB vice president for health sciences on July 1.

The new hires include an internationally recognized leader in cardiac electrophysiology, an expert in melatonin and its therapeutic effects, and a pioneer in myelin biology who will conduct research on Krabbe’s disease.

Earlier this month, Cain named John E. Tomaszewski, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and interim chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, to chair the UB Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, effective Oct. 1. Tomaszewski conducts research in genitourinary malignancies and immunopathology, especially in renal transplantation and advanced tissue image analysis.

The other high-profile appointments at the UB medical school at the chair or equivalent level include:

  • Anne B. Curtis, formerly professor of medicine at University of South Florida, chief of the USF’s Division of Cardiology and director of Cardiovascular Services, who was recruited last summer to UB to chair the Department of Medicine and serve as the department’s inaugural Mary and Charles Bauer Professor. One of the world’s leading clinical cardiac electrophysiologists and an expert in cardiac arrhythmias, she plays an important role in developing national guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation.
  • Animesh Amart Sinha, formerly chief of the N.V. Perricone Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Sciences at Michigan State University and director of its Center for Investigative Dermatology, recruited in April to chair the Department of Dermatology at UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute and to become UB’s inaugural Rita M. and Ralph T. Behling, MD, Professor of Dermatology. He is an expert in the fields of immunological tolerance and autoimmunity in skin diseases, such as alopecia lupus, psoriasis and others.
  • Lawrence Wrabetz, former head of the myelin biology unit at San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, who last fall was appointed director of UB’s Hunter James Kelly Research Institute (HJKRI), which was established in 2004 by UB and the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. HJKRI conducts research on remyelination techniques and the biology and pathophysiology of Krabbe disease, with the goal of discovering ways to correct the genetic defect responsible for Krabbe disease and other leukodystrophies and of developing effective treatments. Laura Feltri, who heads the neuroglia unit at the Italian institute and is Wrabetz’s spouse, also was recruited to the HJKRI.
  • Margarita L. Dubocovich, an internationally recognized expert in molecular pharmacology and drug discovery, recruited to UB in fall 2008 to chair the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. She previously was professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry and psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dubocovich pioneered the discovery of drugs to assess the functional role of certain melatonin receptors and in the identification of ligands with the potential for treating depression, seasonal affective disorders, sleep and circadian disorders, and cancer.
  • Teresa Quattrin, UB professor of pediatrics, named chair of the Department of Pediatrics, housed in Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, in February 2010. An internationally known physician-scientist and an expert in childhood diabetes and obesity, Quattrin also serves as Kaleida Health’s pediatrician-in-chief, chief of the department’s Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and director of the WCHOB Diabetes Center.