Ithaca - Benjamin Kress of Ithaca, N.Y., a neuroscience researcher and third-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, died October 13th in Syracuse, NY at age 31. He is remembered by family and friends as a kind, playful, smart and generous young man of incredible promise.
Ben's compassion and natural instinct to help others was influenced by years of struggle with sleep problems and chronic back pain. After a high school football injury, and a series of surgeries and medications to resolve his back pain, he was determined to learn more about the neurological basis of pain and to help people who were experiencing similar debilitating physical and psychological conditions. Ben's personal experience and scientific training provided him with a deep understanding of the insidious interplay between chronic pain and addiction. His intent was to complete his medical degree and resume research in the field of pain management.
Ben's accomplishments included many scientific papers, a prestigious fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, collaboration with a lab at the University of Rochester Medical School and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and mentoring dozens of researchers and graduate students. However, his greatest accomplishment was his generosity and ability to understand and communicate with others, regardless of their points of view. Ben worked in a field that was full of challenges and enormous demands. Yet he brought passion, humor, curiosity, and kindness to every collaboration in which he participated.
Benjamin Travis Kress was born in Ithaca, NY in 1986, the second son of Stephen Kress and Evelyn Weinstein. He graduated Ithaca High School in 2005, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2010, and he received a post baccalaureate degree from the University of Rochester.
He is survived by his parents, sister Liliana Pearl Kress, brother Nathan Kress, sister-in-law Emily Kress, nephew Max Keene Kress, stepmother Elissa Wolfson, stepfather David Buchner, and girlfriend Anne Sofie Munk.
Bangs Funeral Home in Ithaca is in charge of arrangements. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. To honor Ben, the seed of a new program is being planted to raise awareness of mental health and wellness issues among medical students, researchers, and faculty.
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Published by Ithaca Journal on Oct. 20, 2018.