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Fliesler elected to board of eye research society

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published June 13, 2014

Steven J. Fliesler, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has been elected to the board of trustees of the world’s largest eye research society, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

It is his second major honor from ARVO this year. Last month, Fliesler, who also is a research health scientist at the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System, was formally inducted into ARVO as a Gold Fellow, placing him in an elite group of international vision researchers.

Steven Fliesler

Steven Fliesler

Fliesler will serve a five-year term on the board, which sets ARVO’s strategic direction and conducts the group’s operations and policymaking activities. He also chairs the ARVO Publications Committee, and completed a three-year term (the past year as chair) on the Retinal Cell Biology section of the ARVO Annual Meeting Program Committee, a position he has held twice.

A UB faculty member since 2008, Fliesler is an internationally recognized scientist and president of the International Society for Eye Research. He is vice chair and director of research for the Department of Ophthalmology. He also directs research for UB’s Ira G. Ross Eye Institute Vision Research Center, housed in the Buffalo VA, where he also serves as acting associate chief of staff for research and development.  

A prolific researcher, Fliesler has been studying cholesterol metabolism in the retina for more than 30 years. For the past two decades, the National Institutes of Health has funded his pioneering studies into retinal dysfunction and degeneration associated with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a rare, sometimes deadly birth defect. Fliesler also collaborates with colleagues at other institutions on the development of novel gene therapy applications to treat retinitis pigmentosa and other genetic eye conditions that can lead to incurable blindness.

Fliesler is widely considered an expert in lipid — particularly cholesterol — metabolism in the retina, with more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, plus numerous book chapters, reviews, editorials and abstracts.

He obtained his PhD in biochemistry from Rice University, then did postdoctoral research and was a research assistant professor at the Cullen Eye Institute/Baylor College of Medicine. He held faculty positions at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Saint Louis University School of Medicine, where he worked for 20 years before moving to Buffalo.

Fliesler concurrently serves on the editorial boards of six journals; notably, he is the Retina & Choroid Section co-editor, was the inaugural Focus on Molecules feature editor, and the current Special Issues and Reviews editor for Experimental Eye Research.

He is the recipient of a James S. Adams Award and a Senior Scientific Investigator award from Research to Prevent Blindness. He received a 2014 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, a Chancellor’s Award in Neuroscience from the LSU School of Medicine and twice was a finalist for an Alcon Research Institute Award. His research has been funded continuously by NIH/National Eye Institute since 1983, as well as by the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the March of Dimes.