M. Cristina Leske, Distinguished Professor of Preventive Medicine and Ophthalmology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, has been named Emeritus Professor after 30 years of service to the institution. Leske is known worldwide for her epidemiologic studies on eye diseases and cancer. She will continue to lecture nationally and internationally.
Leske is the only faculty member within the School of Medicine elected into the prestigious Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. She achieved SUNY’s highest academic titles and was the first woman to chair a medical school department at SBUMC, serving as Chair of Preventive Medicine for 12 years. Leske was also the Principal Investigator of the first and largest study to determine major causes of blindness in persons of African descent, as well as other landmark studies in ophthalmic epidemiology, with implications for the prevention of blindness and the delivery of eye care.
“I commend Dr. Leske for her distinguished career and thank her for her many years of exceptional service and dedication to teaching, research, and our community,” said Richard N. Fine, Dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Leske expanded research at Stony Brook by leading the development of a major national and international program in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials, which has had sustained NIH funding for close to 30 years.”
Fine added that Leske has been among the top contributors of research funds at Stony Brook and her scientific contributions to ophthalmic epidemiology and breast cancer on Long Island have been documented in more than 300 publications. Her guidance and leadership was sought through her appointment to advisory boards for numerous research groups and organizations, including an NIH National Advisory Council.
Leske’s work has been recognized through many prestigious local, national, and international awards, including an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree, University of the West Indies; the Caribbean Health Research Council: Award for Contributions to Health Research; and the Marion Spencer Fay Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medical Care, Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership. In 2004 she received the Harvard Public Health Alumni Award of Merit, which is the highest honor bestowed by Harvard to its alumni, in recognition to outstanding contributions to public health. That same year she also received the Congressional recognition as a Local Legend from the American Medical Women Association/National Library of Medicine. She was the recipient of various community awards, such as Woman of the Year in Health, Outstanding Woman of the Year in Science, and Hispanic Heritage awards.