This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.


Published: January 6, 2005

Roger Cunningham, microbiology faculty member

Roger K. Cunningham, associate professor of microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, died of cancer on Christmas Eve. He was 71.



Cunningham was a specialist in the study of human blood groups and blood-group antigens and had authored or coauthored 44 articles on the subject in scientific journals.

In 1992, he was named director of the Ernest Witebsky Center for Immunology and served in that capacity for 10 years. The center, now known as the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, is a highly regarded multidisciplinary research center for the study of bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases.

Working with students was his passion, however. "Teaching was his life," said his wife, Nancy Cunningham. He was awarded the Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Distinguished Medical Teaching Award in 1979 and 1980, and received a letter of commendation in that competition on five different occasions.

Outside of his academic life, he was a gardener, a lover of dogs and was interested in animal rehabilitation.

A native of Enumclaw, Wash., Cunningham received his bachelor's degree in zoology and chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle and a master's degree in zoology and biochemistry from Clemson University in Clemson, N.C. He earned a doctorate in immunology and microbiology from the UB medical school in 1970.

In 1971, he was awarded a fellowship from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, which provides international training opportunities in biomedical and behavioral research for faculty and graduate students. The fellowship allowed him to spend the next two years at the Medical School of Linkoping University in Linkoping, Sweden. He returned to UB in 1973 as an assistant professor of microbiology and remained an active member of the faculty until his death.

Cunningham had served as a consultant in microbiology and diagnostic serology for UB's Student Health Center since 1974. He was a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee for the Buffalo Regional Red Cross Blood Center from 1974 to 1983. He also served as assistant director of the clinical laboratory for Health Care Plan, Inc. He was a member of several scientific organizations, including the American Society of Zoologists, the American Society for Microbiology and the Council of Biological Editors.