President Lois B. DeFleur has announced that Gerald Sonnenfeld will begin his duties as vice president for research in July.
Sonnenfeld is currently associate dean for basic sciences and graduate studies at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. He is also chair of the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology and chairs the Morehouse School of Medicine Intellectual Property Committee.
Sonnenfeld brings depth and breadth of experience to the position, DeFleur said. “He has a strong scholarly and research background as well as extensive experience with industry, both domestic and foreign,” she said. “He also has a record of developing creative funding opportunities that should serve Binghamton well.”
A native New Yorker, Sonnenfeld has always been aware of the level of academic excellence at Binghamton and sees potential for the campus to take advantage of research opportunities.
“I’m interested in coming to Binghamton because I think there are unique opportunities for developing research and scholarly activity there,” he said. “There are already outstanding faculty on campus who have great expertise and there’s an opportunity to establish unique niches and expand on the talents of the University to enhance the entire research and scholarly endeavor.”
Sonnenfeld sees great promise in interdisciplinary efforts. “Interdisciplinary work opens new doors for people,” he said. “It allows those who wouldn’t necessarily work together to expand on their efforts and really be unique. It’s also more attractive to those who sponsor research and scholarly activity so it expands possibilities and horizons, while providing more opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to be involved.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Sonnenfeld was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine. He then taught at a number of schools including the University of Louisville schools of medicine and dentistry, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and as an adjunct at the University of North Carolina campuses at Charlotte and Chapel Hill. He has been at Morehouse School of Medicine since 1999.
Sonnenfeld will also be appointed as a professor of biological science. His research focuses on the regulation of the immune system by the neuro- endocrine system and how stress affects reactions. Some of his research involves how space flight affects the immune system and, among his many awards, he has been recognized with the Founders Award by the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology.
He holds two U.S. patents and one from Canada, and is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Association of Immunologists, the American Society for Microbiology, the American Society for Virology and the Surgical Infection Society. He is a founding board member of the Tissue Engineering Society.
Sonnenfeld replaces Bahgat Sammakia, who has served as interim vice president since the resignation of Frances Carr last year.