SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Alfred Stracher Memorial Fund
2017 Recipient of the Alfred Stracher Recognition Award
Steven R. Levine, MD, is a Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Emergency Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He received his. B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1977, and his M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1981. Following a residency in neurology at The University of Michigan Medical Center, he completed a 2 year stroke and cerebrovascular disease research fellowship at the Henry Ford Health Science Center in Detroit, Michigan, one of 8 (at the time) nationally designated NIH Centers for Stroke Research where he studied human, in-vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the brain during stroke under the mentorship of K.M.A. Welch. They discovered a cerebral pH "flip-flop" from acidosis to alkalosis during acute ischemic stroke in humans and published the first serial 31-Phosphorus MR spectroscopy profiles of acute human stroke. He also investigated antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) (circulating immunoglobulins implicated in promoting thrombosis) and organized the Antiphospholipid Antibodies Stroke Study (APASS) Group that led to multi-center, epidemiological studies demonstrating aPL as a risk factor for first ischemic stroke. He became involved in acute stroke clinical trials and in 1990-4 was one of 7 site principal investigators in The NINDS rt-PA Stroke Trial that led to the first FDA-approved treatment for acute ischemic stroke in 1996. In the late 1990s he coined the term "telestroke" in a new concept paper envisioning the use of real-time telemedicine to increase tPA treatment within acute stroke care. Over 25 years later telestroke is now part of routine stroke care at many hospitals. Since coming to Downstate in 2010, he has completed a longitudinal cohort study of aPL in older, community dwelling adults, initiated an NIH-funded SUNY-wide neurological clinical trials infrastructure (NeuroNEXT) as well as an NIH-funded SUNY Downstate Hub for neurological emergency clinical trials (NETT). His research team has developed mobile (smart phone) apps for stroke survivors, developed a longitudinal cohort to study predictors of post-stroke fatigue, and currently is investigating factors influencing physician decision making for thrombolytic treatment of acute stroke. He has mentored over 30 stroke fellows, over 50 residents, and many students and junior faculty. He has been the recipient of K24, T32, and R25 NIH research training grants and has been extremely fortunate to be NIH funded continually for 28 years.
2016 Recipient of the Alfred Stracher Recognition Award
Todd C. Sacktor is the recipient of the 2016 Alfred Stracher Faculty Recognition Award. Dr. Sacktor, a Distinguished Professor of Physiology, Pharmacology, Anesthesiology, and Neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1978, and his M.D. with Distinction for Research in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1982. Following a residency in neurology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, he studied the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in short-term memory using the mollusk Aplysia californica, a model system of learning and memory, in the laboratory of Dr. James H. Schwartz at Columbia's Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, directed by Dr. Eric R. Kandel. He discovered that PKC was activated during sensitization and translocated in Aplysia sensory neurons.
Around 1990, it became clear that PKC was not a single enzyme, but a small gene family of isoforms. At the same time, there was tremendous interest in the learning and memory field that long-term potentiation (LTP) in the mammalian hippocampal slice preparation could lead to insights into learning and memory. LTP is a persistent strengthening of synapses based on recent patterns of activity that produce a long-lasting increase in signal transmission between two neurons.
When Dr. Sacktor set up his own laboratory at SUNY Downstate in 1990, his first goal was to characterize the complete PKC isoform family in the hippocampus. He discovered a brain-specific PKC isoform, PKMzeta. PKMzeta is generated from an internal promotor site in the PKC/PKMzeta gene. Its mRNA is transported to neuronal dendrites but is normally translationally repressed.
During LTP, many of the signaling pathways important for LTP induction derepress translation of PKMzeta mRNA to increase the synthesis of PKMzeta. Subsequently, PKMzeta was found to increase synaptic transmission by increasing the number of postsynaptic AMPA receptors. Inhibitors of PKMzeta were found to disrupt both established LTP and memory. Thus, together with colleagues, Dr. Sacktor's laboratory has demonstrated that PKMzeta is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term potentiation and storing the long-term memory trace.
The 2016 Alfred Stracher Faculty Recognition Award has been awarded to Dr. Sacktor for: a) his long-term focus on unravelling the molecular mechanism behind lifelong memory, a crucial brain function that becomes dysfunctional in neurological diseases, and b) his ongoing, highly valued and very caring mentoring of not only his students but of young faculty in his department.
2015 Recipient Of The Alfred Stracher Faculty Recognition Award
Tracey E. Wilson, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences and holds a doctoral degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. She has an active research program in the psychosocial determinants of health behavior, with a focus on HIV and other infectious diseases, in interventions to reduce risk for infectious diseases, and on promoting adherence and engagement in care in chronic conditions. Dr. Wilson has a long history of working in teams to advance public health, and makes a concerted effort to include junior faculty and advanced level students in these teams. In this context, and also as a member of departmental and school-wide committees, she works to ensure that junior faculty are aware of the requirements for tenure and promotion, and advises faculty on approaches to ensuring successful and satisfying careers.