Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, left, and Thomas A. Russo, MD, have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Scholars Popescu and Russo Elected AAAS Fellows

By News Staff

Published April 18, 2024

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, and Thomas A. Russo, MD,  have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.


The honor is bestowed annually upon scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines, from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public, according to AAAS.

Research Centers Around NMDA Receptors

Gabriela K. Popescu PhD; Department of Biochemistry; Research Focus; Ion channel kinetics and structure; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurodegenerative disorders; Neuropharmacology; Protein Function and Structure; Signal Transduction; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; University at Buffalo 2017.

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD

“For distinguished contributions to the field of molecular neuroscience, particularly in elucidating structural and functional aspects of neurotransmission in the central nervous system in health and disease.”

Popescu is a professor of biochemistry in the Jacobs School. Her research centers around NMDA receptors, which produce electrical currents that are essential for cognition, learning and memory.

Her current eight-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health focuses on the excess activation of these receptors, which can cause pathological cellular loss in stroke, brain and spinal cord diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Popescu uses her leadership positions in national organizations to promote diversity and inclusion in academic medicine as well as public support for the sciences.

“I feel honored and privileged! Honored to have our contributions recognized by peers across scientific disciplines, and privileged with lifetime membership in a community of luminaries,” Popescu said. “I am also excited to represent UB on an international level.”

A Leading Expert in Infectious Diseases

Thomas Russo MD; Professor and Chief, Infectious Disease; Department of Medicine; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo; 2021.

Thomas A. Russo, MD

“For distinguished contributions to the field of bacterial pathogenesis, and the development of therapeutics, as well as distinguished contributions as an educator of the public, schools, and businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Russo, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine and chief of its Division of Infectious Diseases, in the Jacobs School, is an expert in infectious diseases.

Russo, who cares for patients at the VA of Western New York, conducts research on gram-negative bacterial infections, antibiotic-resistant infections and works on developing targeted vaccines and drugs.

Russo led the team that discovered the first biomarkers that help identify hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumonaie, a potentially lethal pathogen that can infect healthy individuals.

He is also a go-to source for national and global media, sought for his straightforward explanations of complex medical topics.

“It is a great honor to be named an AAAS Fellow,” Russo said. “Knowing this recognition is not awarded easily, it validates my lifetime research accomplishments and affirms my efforts in communicating and educating the public, schools, and businesses on various infectious diseases issues, especially those surrounding the pandemic.”