Jacobs Faculty Members Earn SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

Published May 6, 2019 This content is archived.

story by dirk hoffman

Four Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members have been selected as recipients of 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.


The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide systemwide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement, and they encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

Peter L. Elkin, MD, professor and chair of biomedical informatics, and Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor and chair of surgery, were awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, which recognizes the consistently superior service contributions of teaching faculty. This service must be sustained over multiple years and may occur in a variety of venues.

M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of biochemistry and neurology, was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, which recognizes the work of those who engage actively in scholarly and creative pursuits beyond their teaching responsibilities.

Michael E. Duffey, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics, was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes consistently superior teaching at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level in keeping with SUNY’s commitment to providing its students with instruction of the highest quality.

Pioneer in Biomedical Informatics Field

Peter Elkin.

Peter L. Elkin, MD

Elkin launched his career in biomedical informatics in the 1980s, well before electronic health records began phasing out paper charts and physicians made rounds with tablet PCs tucked under their arms.

He began advocating for the discipline to be elevated to the rank of subspecialty. In 2011, Elkin co-wrote the American Medical Informatics Association’s white paper defining biomedical informatics and specifying the core competencies for graduate education in the field.

Elkin, who holds a secondary appointment as professor of medicine, is renowned for building biomedical common-data-infrastructure systems and protocols that have transformed research and clinical care. He has created and implemented bioinformatics standards for exchanging and storing data.

In addition, Elkin has pioneered the development of core methods for standardizing medical record data that can link patient records to genomic, diagnostic and treatment information.

His work led to the change to value based payment for health services. Elkin has previously been recognized as a Master of the American College of Physicians, and a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Medical Informatics Association.

Today, he’s widely considered a pioneer in the field for his prolific research on health data representation, his work on fully automated electronic quality monitoring, his efforts to standardize patient safety data and his contributions to the most accurate natural language processing software in health care.

Expert in Minimally Invasive Surgery

Steven Schwaitzberg.

Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD

An internationally recognized expert in minimally invasive surgery, and past president of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, Schwaitzberg has promoted and taught minimally invasive surgical techniques in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Brazil, Poland and France.

In addition to his roles at the Jacobs School, Schwaitzberg serves as medical director of surgical program development for Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center.

Among Schwaitzberg’s most significant research accomplishments is demonstrating the feasibility of using microwaves to warm blood, facilitating transfusions. His work in this area led to the development and federal approval of a practical device.

In addition to device development, his research focuses on preventing intra-abdominal adhesions, hemostasis skill acquisition in minimally invasive surgery, clinical evaluation of antibiotics and clinical outcomes.

Schwaitzberg also has made numerous contributions in the preclinical and clinical use of surgical robots.

He was one of the leaders who helped develop the new surgical skills suites and robotics suites installed on the seventh floor of the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building. Known as UB RIS2E2 (Research, Innovation, Simulation, Structure, Education and Engineering), the multidisciplinary center is where students and residents are trained in the newest surgical and robotics skills.

Groundbreaking Research on Myelin Disorders

Laura Feltri.

M. Laura Feltri, MD

Feltri is acting director of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute (HJKRI), where her lab focuses on understanding the molecular basis of myelination and myelin-related neurological diseases, such as peripheral neuropathies, multiple sclerosis and Krabbe leukodystrophy.

She leads a diverse team of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, senior scientists and international collaborators.

Their research focuses on adhesion between myelinating cells, axons and the extracellular matrix and the signals that promote myelination.

One of the lab’s major efforts has been the study of laminin receptors on Schwann cells, the myelinating peripheral glia.

The HJKRI — one of only a handful of centers focused exclusively on myelin, myelin disorders and their treatment — is part of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

Teaching Cell Biology and Human Physiology

Michael Duffey.

Michael E. Duffey, PhD

Duffey is director of graduate studies in physiology and holds a secondary appointment as professor of medicine.

He teaches undergraduate, graduate, medical and dental students. He runs the gastrointestinal (GI) module for the medical school and teaches GI to dental students.

Duffey runs a graduate-level cell biology course and teaches in several group-taught graduate-level courses from cell biology to human physiology. 

In addition to classroom teaching, he also runs his own lab and teaches research to and mentors several graduate students. 

His research focus is on gastroenterology, ion channel kinetics and structure, membrane transport and cellular biology.

Research in his laboratory concerns neurotransmitter and hormone-mediated anion secretion by gastrointestinal tissues such as intestinal crypts and liver ducts. He also studies muscle contraction in gastrointestinal tissues.