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Dr. Lee L. Bernardis, noted research physiologist Sept. 18, 1926 -- Sept. 6, 2005

Dr. Lee L. Bernardis, an Austrian-born research professor, onetime boxer and a German veteran of World War II, died Tuesday in his Clarence home. He was 78.

A Buffalo resident since 1961, he was a retired Veterans Administration Hospital research physiologist and an international expert on the hypothalamus -- the part of the brain that regulates body temperature and certain metabolic functions.

Born in Graz, Austria, Dr. Bernardis attended Bundesrealgymnasium Lichtenfelsgasse and was serving in the Luftwaffe when he became a prisoner of war.

After earning a Ph.D. in zoology from Karl Franz University in 1949, he coached boxing in Graz.

He immigrated to Canada in 1951 and was a research technician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and a research assistant and graduate student at the University of Western Ontario in London, where he earned a Ph.D. in physiology.

He was a research instructor at Louisiana State University in New Orleans before coming to the University at Buffalo, where he worked in the departments of pathology and physiology and the neurosensory laboratory. He was part of the neuroendocrine research group in the UB Department of Medicine and held several other research posts.

Before retiring several years ago, Dr. Bernardis was on the research staff of VA Hospital, where he kept an office while completing his life's work -- a book on the hypothalamus and brain function. The volume will be completed and published by his friend and research partner, Dr. Larry Bellinger of Dallas.

He received numerous scientific awards, was an internationally acclaimed expert on the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus and belonged to many professional organizations.

Dr. Bernardis also lectured medical graduate students, supervised Ph.D. candidates and was a consultant and adviser to fellows in the UB Department of Medicine.

He was a glider pilot and a member of the Finger Lakes Soaring Club and Soaring Society of America.

A fitness enthusiast, he engaged in body building, jogging, weightlifting and aerobic training. He was a member of Village Glen Fitness Club for more than 25 years. As a semiprofessional boxer, he was Austrian light middleweight champion in 1951 and Central Ontario Light Heavyweight Champion in 1953.

His wife of 47 years, the former Barbara Abbey, and a son, Glenn A. of Cheektowaga, survive.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. next Sunday in the Buffalo Irish Center, 245 Abbott Road.


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