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Three faculty named SUNY Distinguished Professors

SUNY Distinguished Professor medal.

The rank of distinguished professor is the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system.


Published May 7, 2021


UB faculty members Thomas Russo, Frank A. Scannapieco and Bianca Weinstock-Guttman have been named SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest rank in the SUNY system.

They 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, Scannapieco and Weinstock-Guttman were all 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.”

Thomas Russo.

Thomas A. Russo is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

His research focus is on pathogenesis, and drug and vaccine development against extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and a new pathotype of Klebsiella pneumoniae. 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. In addition, he mentors students, residents and fellows in his laboratory.

As a practicing physician, he cares for hospitalized patients at the VA.

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.

Russo earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University and his medical degree from McGill University. He 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.

Frank Scannapieco.

Frank A. Scannapieco, chair of the Department of Oral Biology and associate dean for faculty and professional development in the School of Dental Medicine, is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of oral biology. His research focuses on the mechanisms of dental plaque formation and their implications on health and disease, the interactions between saliva and bacteria, and the relationships between oral and systematic disease. Among his many important research contributions is his demonstration of the association between oral and respiratory infections.

A faculty member in the UB dental school for more than 30 years, Scannapieco has received more than $13 million in grant funding, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, and has published nearly 200 research articles, books and book chapters.

He is a fellow of the American Association for Dental Research and has received numerous awards, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, the William J. Gies Award for Achievement from the American Dental Education Association and the 2019 Research in Oral Biology Award from the International Association for Dental Research.

Scannapieco received a doctorate in dental medicine and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Connecticut, a doctorate in oral biology from UB and a master’s degree in biology from Northeastern University.

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman.

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, professor of neurology in the Jacobs School, 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, and executive director of the New York State MS 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.  

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. 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% 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.