Stroke Research: Feinberg Endowed Chair

Leslie Ritter, PhD, RN, professor of nursing at the UA College of Nursing and neurology at the UA College of Medicine, serves as the UA Sarver Heart Center’s William M. Feinberg, MD, Endowed Chair for Stroke Research. 

Dr. Ritter’s research focuses on minimizing the effects of inflammation on brain injury in patients with stroke. A decade ago, her research team was the first to identify a significant, early inflammatory response in the small blood vessels of the brain after stroke. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for these seminal findings. Since then, her laboratory studies have considered the relationships between inflammation and factors such as diabetes, aging and ethnicity. She currently is working on a study to understand the relationships among inflammatory genes, novel inflammatory blood markers and traditional risk factors in African Americans with stroke.

In addition to her research efforts, Dr. Ritter has been extremely effective in building inter-professional team capacity for delivery of stroke services. Soon after she joined the faculty at the UA, she brought together stroke clinicians from various Tucson hospitals to discuss their readiness to become certified stroke centers. In 2009, Dr. Ritter was a leader in the University of Arizona Medical Center’s effort to become Tucson’s first primary stroke center in Southern Arizona and continues as a coordinator of the stroke program. Dr. Ritter has dedicated herself to mentoring UA undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of health-related disciplines in stroke research and education of the public about stroke recognition and prevention.

In Memory of William M. Feinberg, MD








The Stroke Research Chair honors the memory of William M. Feinberg, MD, a physician and professor of neurology at the University of Arizona, who was one of the world’s leaders in stroke research. His contributions ranged from greater understanding of stroke mechanisms to the role of anti-coagulation in preventing strokes.

In 1996, Dr. Feinberg founded the first comprehensive stroke program at the UA College of Medicine. The program fostered basic science research, translated scientific findings into clinical research and gave patients access to the latest treatments for stroke.

Unfortunately, Dr. Feinberg died suddenly in 1997 at the age of 45, before he could see the full realization of the stroke program.

With support from his patients, colleagues and friends, his family established an endowed chair in his name to further his vision of effectively treating and preventing stroke. “My dad cared enough for people to want to find a way to prevent stroke. So many people cared enough about my dad to remember him in this way,” says Hope Feinberg.

“Personally I feel that the chair is a way for my dad’s legacy to be carried on and let people know the important things that he did for the field of stroke medicine. It is also a great way to help other researchers who have similar goals to my dad’s,” says Max Feinberg.

“Leslie is a great choice for the chair. She has strong dedication to the field of stroke medicine. I feel that she will continue my dad’s vision for stroke research and prevention,” adds Max.