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Upstate faculty member is SUNY Distinguished Professor

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Christopher E. Turner, Ph.D., professor of cell and developmental biology and a member of the Upstate Cancer Research Institute at Upstate Medical University, has been afforded the State University's highest academic rank as SUNY Distinguished Professor.

The distinction, given by the State University of New York Board of Trustees, acknowledges Turner for his significant contributions to the research literature, national and international prominence, and for his role in elevating the standards of scholarship among his students, postdoctoral fellows and colleagues.

Turner has held numerous national grants and has received continued support from the National Institutes of Health since joining Upstate in 1991. His research has earned him an international reputation as an authority in cell adhesion and migration. He is credited with discovering the focal adhesion scaffold protein paxillin and characterizing its role in coordinating the cell migration machinery. This work has led to greater scientific insight into the mechanism that allows cancerous cells to move away from the primary tumor and colonize or metastasize to one or more distant sites elsewhere in the body—a critical step in tumor progression. His laboratory has since identified and characterized numerous other paxillin-associated proteins involved in the process. These discoveries may pave the way for new therapies targeting tumor cell invasion.

Listen to Turner discuss his research.

Turner has published nearly 100 original papers and reviews. He has served on many national and international grant review panels and continues to lecture both in the United States and abroad.

He has trained numerous young investigators in the cell adhesion and signaling fields, including several who are faculty members at other leading academic institutions. His post-doctoral and pre-doctoral fellows have also obtained national recognition and funding for work in his laboratory.

Turner received a bachelor's degree from the University of Sheffield, England, in 1983, and a doctorate degree in cell biology from the University of Oxford, England, in 1986. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Keith Burridge in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill from 1987 to 1991. He then joined Upstate as an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in 1991.

Turner is Upstate's second faculty member to attain the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor. Richard Cross, Ph.D., received the honor in 2007 for his work in bioenergetics, the study of biological energy transfer and conversion at the cellular and molecular levels. Throughout the years, Upstate has had numerous faculty members selected as SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professors and SUNY Distinguished Service Professors.

The SUNY Distinguished Professorship, one of the four designations comprising Distinguished Faculty Rank, is a tenured academic rank above that of full professor. It was created by the SUNY Board of Trustees to recognize and reward the scholarship and research of SUNY's finest and most accomplished faculty, and to provide the systemwide acknowledgment this level of achievement merits. SUNY announced Turner's honor last month.

SUNY announced Turner's appointent to Distinguished Professor in November.