UB Medicine Fall 2023

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In aftermath of Damar Hamlin incident, Chair of Orthopaedics Leslie Bisson turns spotlight on bystander CPR/AED training

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Message from the Dean Dear friends, Two years ago, I embarked on a new journey to lead change, push the frontiers of research and invest in the future of Buffalo. As I watched the more than 500 undergraduate, medical, master’s and PhD students graduate this spring, I was filled with hope. These are the next generation of physicians and scientists who will expand our footprint throughout the Buffalo region. Each year, more students choose to remain here for their advanced training, to work here and to raise their families. These individuals are the ones who will carry the torch in our ever-changing health care landscape and will see through our strategic plan. This isn’t just good for the school; it inspires innovative discovery, generates more jobs, stimulates our regional economy and addresses the burdening physician shortage in our community. The future is in the hands of brave people like Chloe Cottone, whose dream of becoming a surgeon was nearly derailed by hypermobility in her joints, and Sydney Johnson who returned to medical school after suffering a stroke. As you will read in this publication, they beat the odds, thanks to medical technology and multidisciplinary collaborations. I’m excited to see them moving forward on their paths, setting the stage for a brighter future here in Buffalo and beyond. I’m also pleased to welcome new faces to our leadership team, including Marc Halterman, MD, PhD, who joined us this fall as senior associate dean and executive director for the Office of Research, helping us further advance and diversify our growing research agenda. I am committed to building upon this momentum, deepening relationships, empowering our school leadership, supporting our bright new faculty and being part of the fabric of our Buffalo community. Our school is filled with stories of accomplishment, innovation, inclusion, philanthropy and partnership. You will read about many of them in this edition of UB Medicine. I am grateful for your support as we continue to build a better future for Buffalo and beyond. Warmest wishes,

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Vice President for Health Sciences

TA B LE O F CO NTE NT S UB MEDICINE MAGAZINE | Fall 2023, Vol. 11, No. 2


VITAL LINES Progress notes


Tales behind the gifts


People in the news

36 Q&A

UBMEDICINE ALLISON BRASHEAR, MD, MBA Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences


In Jacobs School’s Class of 2027, four pairs of siblings—including three sets of twins—team up to tackle medical school together.

David A. Draper Associate Vice President for Advancement, Principal Gifts


Editor Patrick S. Broadwater

Bisson, Department of Orthopaedics turn spotlight of Damar Hamlin injury on bystander CPR/AED training.

Contributing Writers Bill Bruton, Dawn Cwierley, Ellen Goldbaum, Dirk Hoffman, Melissa Meyer



Interprofessional collaboration keeps medical student’s surgical dream alive.

The last word

Copyeditor Ann Whitcher-Gentzke Photography Sandra Kicman Meredith Forrest Kulwicki Douglas Levere Art Direction & Design Ellen Stay Editorial Adviser John J. Bodkin II, MD ’76

UB Medicine is published by the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB to inform alumni, friends and community about the school’s pivotal role in medical education, research and advanced patient care in Buffalo, Western New York and beyond. VISIT US: medicine.buffalo.edu/alumni COVER Damar Hamlin photo courtesy AP; Dr. Leslie Bisson photo by Douglas Levere.

Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Erie County Medical Center Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System Kaleida Health Buffalo General Medical Center Gates Vascular Institute John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital


Family intervention, UB’s pioneering stroke care help medical student Sydney Johnson survive (and thrive) after rare COVIDrelated brain clots.


An excerpt from a new publication, led by Jacobs School leadership and industry experts, that examines a variety of health care topics being shaped by emerging technologies.

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Catholic Health Mercy Hospital of Buffalo Sisters of Charity Hospital Correspondence, including requests to be added to or removed from the mailing list, should be sent to: Editor, UB Medicine, 955 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203; or email ubmedicine-news@buffalo.edu




TWO JACOBS SCHOOL UNDERGRADS HONORED WITH PRESTIGIOUS GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIPS Two Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of finding a treatment for a deadly disease or designing a vaccine undergraduates were honored as recipients of the Barry Goldwater against something as prominent as malaria. While my goal to Scholarship, the most prestigious and competitive research directly impact people remains, I still want to try to live up to scholarship offered to undergraduate STEM students. those childhood dreams and manifest them into a more grounded Lea Joan Kyle, a biochemistry student, and Sydney Rae Swedick, reality.” a biomedical engineering student, were among the 413 students Swedick, of Johnstown, New York, plans to pursue a PhD in chosen this spring to receive the Goldwater neuroscience. She hopes to conduct scholarship from among more than 5,000 research on peripheral nerve injuries applicants—college sophomores and and spinal cord injuries using tissue juniors pursuing research careers in engineering and regenerative medicine. the natural sciences, mathematics and “Biomedical engineering is like a blank engineering. canvas,” Swedick wrote in her scholarship Kyle, of Martville, New York, plans to application “Its multidisciplinary nature pursue a PhD in biochemistry, focusing provides me with the perfect landscape to on infectious disease prevention and utilize every color in the palette of my life. transmission. She wants to eventually It allows me to incorporate my fascination work in the public sector in a national lab. with understanding why something “Since I was a child, I devoured science occurs, or the science, while applying fiction novels, absorbing stories about the knowledge to create impact through crazy medical research feats and scientific engineering. breakthroughs that could change the “I look forward to employing every world,” Kyle wrote in her Goldwater color of my existence to produce my final Sydney Swedick (left), a biomedical engineering application. composition one day—better therapies student, and Lea Kyle, a biochemistry student, “Though a lofty goal, I have always received the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship for those with spinal cord and peripheral aspired to be like those people. I dreamed nerve injuries.” this spring.

SEVERAL JACOBS SCHOOL FACULTY RECEIVE NATIONAL HONORS Several Jacobs School faculty members recently received recognition from national organizations for their service to the profession as educators, clinicians, researchers and mentors. Among them:

Nicholas J. Silvestri, MD, professor of neurology and associate dean for student and academic affairs at the Jacobs School, was named a recipient of the 2023 A. B. Baker Teacher Recognition Award by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). The award “demonstrates respect and appreciation for neurologic teaching,” according to the AAN website. Silvestri teaches medical students in the clinical practice of medicine and musculoskeletal modules during the first year of medical school, the neuroscience module 2



during the second year, and the neurology clerkship during the third and fourth years. He also teaches neurology residents in the inpatient wards and outpatient clinic, and in didactic sessions throughout the year. When asked about his teaching style, Silvestri says he feels it is essential to “take the learner’s specific educational goals and objectives into account. “This varies from student to student or resident to resident, and I think that it’s really important that we take an individualized approach as much as possible to ensure that our learners are able to attain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the best care of their patients throughout their careers,” he adds. In his nomination letter for the award, Gil I. Wolfe, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of the Department of Neurology, said that Silvestri’s teaching is unparalleled based on a teaching metric the department recently developed to incentivize and reward teaching. The metric includes trainee evaluations, participation and

direction of didactic lectures series, clinical mentorship of students and house staff, and teaching awards. Wolfe pointed out that Silvestri’s “evaluations from both medical students and residents are at the top for my department—they are in essence as close to perfect as these evaluations can be.”

David A. Milling MD ’93, associate

professor of medicine and executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education, has been elected to serve as treasurer of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Founded in 1915, the nonprofit develops and manages assessments of health care professionals. It collaborates with a number of organizations to create licensing exams and in-training testing. Together with the Federation of State Medical Boards, the NBME develops and manages the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Milling previously served as an at-large member of the NBME. At the Jacobs School, Milling has responsibility for the Offices of Student and Academic Affairs, Medical Curriculum and Medical Admissions. He oversees the development, delivery and success of the medical education program, including oversight of the school’s clinical competency and simulation centers. As program director for the Jacobs School’s Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and director of the Associated Medical Schools of New York’s Post-Baccalaureate Program, Milling is involved in improving the workforce numbers and the pipeline to medicine for underrepresented students in New York State.

Two UB faculty members, Stelios Andreadis, PhD, and M. Laura Feltri, MD, have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. The lifetime honor is bestowed on AAAS members by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science applications. The UB faculty members were among more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators to receive the

prestigious distinction this year. Andreadis, a SUNY Distinguished Professor of chemical and biological engineering, and biomedical engineering, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of stem cell engineering, especially cardiovascular tissue engineering. His pioneering work has led to engineering tissues for regenerative medicine, such as bioengineered arteries and veins, skin, skeletal muscle and salivary glands; and improved sources of stem cells and novel biomaterials (elastomers, hydrogels) for cell, gene and protein delivery for tissue regeneration. More recently, his work has led to improved understanding of vascular and skeletal muscle aging and how to reverse it, shedding light on the role of the immune system in endothelialization of bioengineered arteries and resulting in real-world products to replace arteries in patients. Feltri, a SUNY Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and neurology and director of UB’s Institute for Myelin and Glia Exploration, is an internationally renowned expert and pioneer in the study of myelin diseases in the nervous system and the development of novel treatments for them. With major funding from the National Institutes of Health, Feltri has made numerous seminal discoveries in her field, including developing the first mutagenesis tool for studying the development of Schwann cells, which generate myelin, and the signals that regulate myelination. In collaboration with Lawrence Wrabetz, she pioneered the use of transgenic animals to model neurological diseases and develop new therapies. Feltri’s research focuses on multiple sclerosis (MS); CharcotMarie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which affects the peripheral nerves; and Krabbe leukodystrophy, a rare, fatal neurological disease that afflicts newborns. Noted medical anthropologist Linda S. Kahn, PhD, has been named a fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). Kahn, professor and associate vice chair for research for the Primary Care Research Institute in the Department of Family Medicine, has studied a multitude of diseases—from depression to diabetes to chronic kidney disease, heart disease and substance use—in her two decades of working as an anthropologist in family medicine. SfAA was founded in 1941 with a central concern—the importance of applying the social sciences to contemporary problems. Election to fellow status is based on demonstrated advanced competence in research and/or application of behavioral science in contemporary societies. This competence may be demonstrated by having been trained in the field of anthropology or other social sciences, or in related fields, or by professional experience.

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ADDRESSING GUN VIOLENCE Trauma Surgeon Brian Williams Gives Keynote ‘Beyond the Knife’ Lecture The night of July 7, 2016, changed Brian H. Williams’ life forever. The Black, Harvard-trained trauma surgeon was on duty at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas when a group of policemen at a peaceful demonstration about police killings were ambushed in a racially motivated mass shooting. They arrived at the Emergency Department with multiple gunshot wounds. The five officers killed were white; the shooter, who was killed by police, was Black. In a seminal, raw and anguished interview with national media days later, Williams plainly expressed how this attack, on the heels of the deaths of two Black men in Minnesota and Louisiana at the hands of police, had personally affected him as a surgeon and as a Black man. Now a professor of trauma and acute care surgery at UChicago Medicine, Williams shared his story and his thoughts about race and gun violence as a public health crisis Feb. 2 at the third annual “Beyond the Knife” Lecture sponsored by the Jacobs School’s Department of Surgery. The event was the first of several that took place in the Jacobs School throughout the spring semester addressing racism and gun violence in the wake of the May 14, 2022, mass shooting that took place at a nearby Tops supermarket. Williams, who was unable to travel to Buffalo due to severe weather, spoke to an audience of more than 800 faculty, staff, students and community members split between Zoom and the M&T Auditorium. An Air Force Academy alumnus, he recalled seeing his first gunshot victim as a third-year medical student at the University of South Florida. Over a two-decade career that has taken him to Harvard Medical, Atlanta, Dallas and now Chicago, he says there has been one constant throughout. “It’s that most of my patients—gun violence victims—have been young Black males. “When you pronounce that many deaths of people who look

like me and after you consoled families that look like mine—that changes you. It slowly eats away at you.” After the police ambush in Dallas, Williams wanted to do more to stem gun violence. Rather than treat victims after they had suffered an attack, he wanted to help address the root causes in hopes of keeping trauma surgeons like himself from staying so busy. He began working on improving police-community relations and joined a community health institute focused on reducing health care disparities in Dallas County, the first steps to positioning him as a national thought leader on public health and racism. His first book, “The Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal,” was released this fall. “I started doing things outside the hospital that could have an impact,” he said. “It was necessary to communicate, converse and collaborate with those outside the hospital—those who are closest to the problem—to develop solutions.” That work is the epitome of thinking “beyond the knife.” “My scalpel was totally useless in those situations,” he said. The event also featured a community panel focused on the issue of gun violence. Panelists included: • La’Tryse Anderson, outreach supervisor for Buffalo SNUG (Should Never Use Guns) • Gale R. Burstein, MD, Erie County commissioner of health and clinical professor of pediatrics in the Jacobs School • John V. Elmore, attorney • Sherry Sherrill, project facilitator, We are Women Warriors • Chris St. Vil, PhD, assistant professor, UB School of Social Work • Henry-Louis Taylor Jr., PhD, professor of urban and regional planning, School of Architecture and Planning, and director of the UB Center for Urban Studies Rod Watson, urban affairs editor and columnist with The Buffalo News, acted as moderator.

A full house at M&T Auditorium and hundreds more on Zoom watched Brian Williams, MD, deliver the keynote at the third annual Beyond the Knife Lecture sponsored by the Department of Surgery.


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JACOBS SCHOOL, MICHIGAN STATE STUDENTS FIND SOLIDARITY AFTER MASS SHOOTINGS Almost a year to the day after a deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, a group of 18 medical students gathered for lunch and conversation in the annex of the Hopewell Baptist Church on Fillmore Avenue. The students from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University were all familiar with the universal struggles that go along with attending medical school. But both groups had also been affected by mass shootings on or near their campuses in the past 12 months. The May 14, 2022, racist massacre occurred 1.5 miles from the Jacobs School; a mass shooting on the Michigan State campus took place on Feb. 13, 2023. Clearly, both sets of students will be dealing with similar issues for a long time to come. That fact was obvious to Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences and Jacobs School dean, while speaking with Aron Sousa, MD, dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine, at an Association of American Medical Colleges meeting earlier this year. “We realized that students and faculty at both our institutions were in this very difficult position,” says Brashear. “We felt that they could learn from, and support, each other.” That led to the Jacobs School’s decision to invite Michigan State students to the May 14 remembrance events in Buffalo, and to MSU’s decision to invite the UB students to events marking the anniversary of the MSU shooting next February in East Lansing. During the lunch in Buffalo, the students, joined by faculty from both schools and local community leaders, bonded over deep discussions of their horror from the events, the response to each

incident from their schools and communities, and how the issue of gun violence continues to be a “uniquely American problem.” “We want to address how both of our schools are working to combat racism and the public health crisis of gun violence,” Brashear says. “Our goal is to build a coalition of schools of medicine that are working to address this public health crisis.”

Medical students from the Jacobs School and Michigan State University participated in group discussions with faculty from both institutions and community leaders at Buffalo’s Hopewell Baptist Church on the one-year anniversary of Buffalo’s deadly May 14, 2022, shooting. A delegation from Buffalo has been invited to visit East Lansing in February to mark the anniversary of a mass shooting on MSU’s campus.

RACISM, MENTAL HEALTH CONVERSATION STRESSES ‘NEED TO HEAL’ The Jacobs School served as host for a University at Buffalo event commemorating the May 14, 2022, shooting. The “Racism, Racial Literacy and Mental Health” event featured expert panelists, a guest speaker and welcomed community insight into the root causes and aftermath of the traumatic incident that claimed 10 Black lives. “We hold this conversation to remember them, the hideous event that took their lives and to forge a path toward healing, social justice and the building of an anti-racist society,” said Henry-Louis Taylor, PhD, director of UB’s Center for Urban Studies. His remarks preceded a keynote address by Howard Stevenson, PhD, the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education and professor of Africana studies in the Human Development & Quantitative Methods Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also executive director

of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative, which is designed to promote racial literacy in education, health and community institutions. In a largely personal presentation, Stevenson talked about how his parents taught him the difference between “belonging” and “fitting in.” Before you can fight to change racism, you need to heal, Stevenson said. And Black Americans need to take control of their own story and not leave it to others to provide their narrative. “The lion’s story will never be known as long as the hunter is the one to tell it,” Stevenson said, quoting an African proverb. More than 200 people attended the event. Sponsors included the Graduate School of Education, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, the Jacobs School, the School of Social Work, the Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education, and the Community Health Equity Research Institute.

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GENDER-AFFIRMING SURGEON SPEAKS AT LGBTQIA+ EVENT Blair Peters, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and frequent lecturer on advocacy and policy change regarding queer acceptance, headlined the inaugural LGBTQIA+ Education and Inclusivity in Health Care event held May 23 at the Jacobs School. An assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University, Peters is renowned as strong queer voice in medicine and surgery with a focus on mentoring the future generation of genderaffirming surgeons. “I only graduated med school 10 years ago,” Peters said to an audience of more than 100, “and I couldn’t even fathom an event like this on a medical school campus. It’s really amazing to see how far we’ve come, especially with everything happening across the country. It can seem like dark times, but there’s a lot of light in this room.” The event, which also featured a panel discussion titled “Affirming the Right to Be,” was planned several months in advance. But it took on greater significance after a university-based student club invited a conservative pundit known for spreading anti-trans rhetoric to speak on the North Campus in March. “Just by holding it, this event accomplishes a lot,” said Chloe Cottone, a rising second-year medical student and co-president of OUTpatient, the LGBTQIA+ student group at the Jacobs School. “In the face of the current political climate with all the anti-trans and anti-queer narratives and rhetoric going around, just putting it on in the face of all that is, I think, really powerful.” Keynote speaker Blair Peters, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University (center) poses with members of OUTpatient, the LGBTQIA+ student group at the Jacobs School following the inaugural Education and Inclusivity in Health Care event in May.

GAYLE’S HARRINGTON LECTURE OFFERS INSIGHTS ON BUFFALO, EDUCATION, GLOBAL HEALTH Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, led a discussion with Buffalo native Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, at the 2023 Harrington Lecture held in the Jacobs School.

Buffalo native Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, an internationally known expert on health and humanitarian issues, spoke on a wide range of topics during the 2023 Harrington Lecture June 3 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Gayle was interviewed by Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. The talk was part of the UB Alumni Weekend. In the Harrington Lecture, Gayle revisited her journey from Bennett High School to director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, to her current role as president of Spelman College, and offered observations in a number of areas: • On ways to increase the percentage of Black male medical students, which has decreased over the past 45 years: “First and foremost is thinking early on in the pipeline. If you’re just presented the possibility of medical school when someone is in college, it’s too late. You need to work with communities early on to make sure that particularly for young Black men, that they see Black men who are also in the medical fields, that they see somebody they can relate to who can be a role model.” • On how social determinants impact health: “We have also seen that racism in and of itself is an important factor in health. We’re just starting to understand that. Racism is rooted in our systems, and it’s so longstanding. But I think if we want to improve health, we also have to start thinking about how to attack the systems of racism that exist. If we do that, we’ll not only improve their health, we’ll also have a healthier country.” More than 350 people from 26 states attended the UB Alumni Weekend. In all, they raised more than $700,000 to fund scholarships including the inaugural Jonathan D. Daniels MD ’98 & Family Memorial Fund that supports students of color and others who are underrepresented in medicine.


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The late Jonathan D. Daniels, MD, who died in a tragic house fire July 4, 2022, at his North Buffalo home, was recognized with the 2023 Medical Alumni Association’s President’s Award. His wife, Janessa Givens Daniels, accepted the award on behalf of their family. Myron Glick, MD ’93, was honored as a 2023 distinguished medical alumnus. He is founder of the Jericho Road Community Health Center, which has had a profound impact on the Buffalo

community, providing health care for all and supporting Buffalo’s refugee community. Claire Fraser, PhD ’81, was honored as the 2023 distinguished biomedical alumnus, and outgoing president Lori Luzi, MD ’88, was presented with a plaque recognizing her service to the Medical Alumni Association.

SCHOLARSHIP INCENTIVE HELPS KEEP DOCTORS UB TRAINS CLOSE TO HOME WNY Medical Scholarship Fund’s Focus is on Retaining Physicians in Underserved Areas Amid a sea of soon-to-be residents celebrating with their families on Match Day after learning where they were headed next in their careers, Dean Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, and Dori R. Marshall, MD, former associate dean and director of medical admissions, pulled aside two students and handed them a second envelope to open. Inside each was a scholarship worth $120,000. The Western New York Medical Scholarships, funded by local physicians and business leaders, are designated for Western New York high school graduates who match into a primary care specialty. The catch is they must pledge to live and practice for at least five years in one of the eight Western New York counties at the conclusion of their training. That’s not a problem for Meghan Cloutier, who matched in internal medicine at UB and was recently engaged to Alex Bartnik, a doctoral student in the neuroscience program at the Jacobs School. “I’ve always wanted to stay in Western New York. My family’s here, my whole life’s here. We’re going to be lifers here in Buffalo,” Cloutier says. Cloutier and Tanya Verma, who also matched in internal medicine, both graduated from Niagara Wheatfield High School and from the Jacobs School in April. “It means a lot,” Verma says of the scholarship. “Four years of medical school has been crazy, but it’s been worth it. I’m excited for this new part of my life.” Scholarships through the Western New York Medical Scholarship Fund, an independent, grass-roots community organization begun in 2012, aim to address two key objectives locally: student debt and projected physician shortages. John Bodkin, MD ’76,a Jacobs School alumnus who was president of Highgate Medical and a family medicine physician with the practice for 40 years, has led the charge. “We are a group of independent physicians and community and business leaders, and we have seen the shortage of physicians in Western New York firsthand,” he said. “Our goal is simple: We

want the doctors we train here to spend their careers here. We are giving them the incentive to do that. Our motto has been: ‘Live here, train here and remain here.’” The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a national shortage of up to 124,000 physicians nationally by 2034; it’s estimated that over half of those may be primary care physicians. And over the past 10 years, statewide estimates have put Western New York among the regions in the state with some of the lowest numbers of physicians per 100,000 people. Since it first started receiving donations in 2012, the scholarship fund has raised more than $4 million from private donors, local hospitals and insurance companies and other businesses. So far, it has distributed scholarships to 31 Jacobs School students. Over the years, its mission has evolved from striving to keep more Jacobs School graduates local, regardless of their specialty, to emphasizing specialties such as primary care, where the local need is particularly acute. “I’m going to pay off a lot of loans. It’s a huge relief. When you’re a resident, you make more money than you ever have in your life, but it’s still not enough to pay off the loans,” says Cloutier. “This is going to be a significant weight off my shoulders.” To donate to the WNY Medical Scholarship Fund, go to https://bit.ly/3St9ZQd

On Match Day, Tanya Verma, left, and Meghan Cloutier found out they were awarded WNY Medical Scholarships, established to keep more Jacobs School graduates in Western New York to practice medicine.

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RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS A sampling of research updates from around the Jacobs School: UB, Instacart Partner on Healthy Eating Project Jacobs School researchers who study what makes people buy and eat healthy foods are teaming up with Instacart, the leading grocery technology company in North America, to test nutrition intervention programs for families at higher risk for obesity. The project was referenced in an announcement by the White House in March about its continuing national efforts to combat nutrition insecurity and diet-related disease. “The goal of our project with Instacart is to make it easier for parents to make healthy choices while grocery shopping,” said Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD, principal investigator, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Child Health and Behavior Lab in the Jacobs School. In a paper published last November in Obesity, Anzman-Frasca and co-authors tested how providing healthy recipes and online shopping carts preloaded with ingredients for those recipes would impact the food choices of adults who have Type 2 diabetes or are at increased risk for it. “We make countless decisions in a given day,” she says. “Research evidence supports the idea that using ‘defaults’ like these pre-filled online shopping carts reduces the burden of constant decisionmaking. Our pilot research suggests that this approach makes it more likely that the recommended healthy foods make it from the online shopping cart to home.”

Family-Focused Child Weight-Loss Treatment Works Best Obesity runs in families. That fact is at the root of an intensive, behavioral, family-based treatment developed by UB researchers. Previously available only in specialty clinics, this evidencebased treatment has now been implemented across four U.S. cities in children ages 6-12 in the primary care setting, where the vast majority of children receive care. The study, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrates that family-based treatment for obesity conducted in the pediatrician’s office leads to improved weight-loss outcomes for the treated child and parent, and even extends to untreated siblings. The study found that three times as many children in the treatment group (27%) as in the usual care group (9%) had a clinically meaningful reduction in median body mass index (BMI)


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associated with improved cardiometabolic outcomes, such as blood pressure, lipids and glucose regulation. The current work builds on more than 40 years of work by Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics, and colleagues, including a previous study in the primary care setting led by Teresa Quattrin, MD, UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and associate dean for research integration in the Jacobs School.

Family Medicine Residency Gains Federal Training Grant The Department of Family Medicine, with the support of its Primary Care Research Institute team, has obtained a multiyear federal grant to assist in the training of primary care residents. The five-year, $2.5 million award from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) is under the Primary Care Training and Enhancement-Residency Training in Mental and Behavioral Health (PCTE-RTMB) program. The purpose of this program is to train primary care residents in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, treatment and referral of services for mental and behavioral health conditions for pediatric, adolescent, young adult and other populations who are at risk or have experienced abuse, trauma, or mental health and/ or substance use disorders, including those related to the effects of gun violence. The Jacobs School was one of only two dozen entities nationwide to receive the award. The grant effort will be led by project director Sarah Abdelsayed, MD, assistant professor of family medicine and program director of the department’s addiction medicine fellowship; and co-director Andrew B. Symons, MD, clinical professor and vice chair for medical student education within the Department of Family Medicine.

Restrictive Abortion Policies May Harm Miscarriage Care A study led by Elana Tal, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has found that people experiencing a miscarriage in states with restrictive abortion policies may be less likely to receive optimal care than those in states with supportive abortion policies. Published online in November in Women’s Health Issues, the research was conducted prior to the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade. “We know abortion restrictions correlate with higher rates of maternal mortality, so it follows that other aspects of health care would be affected, especially miscarriage care, which so closely mirrors abortion care,” Tal says. This study is among the first to explore how miscarriages are managed in light of evidence-based, patient-centered guidelines issued in recent years by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

“Clinicians should be aware of the potential deficiencies in their ability to provide miscarriage care if they train or practice in states with restrictive laws,” she says. Tal noted that the end of Roe v. Wade is expected to even more strongly impact access to care for those experiencing miscarriage.

Prescribed Exercise After Sport-Related Concussion Promotes Recovery Prescribed aerobic exercise after a sport-related concussion speeds recovery, according to a systematic review and metaanalysis published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The paper is part of a special issue of the journal devoted to new scientific evidence and updated recommendations from the 6th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Amsterdam last fall. The new guidelines govern concussion management at the high school and college level, and throughout professional sports worldwide. It is the first time that the Concussion in Sport Group is recommending that individuals who have had a sport-related concussion engage in physical activity, including prescribed aerobic exercise treatment, in the early days after concussion while still symptomatic. John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is first author on the paper that examined rest and exercise immediately following a concussion. The paper confirms the validity of using prescribed subthreshold aerobic exercise starting as soon as 48 hours after a sport-related concussion. It also confirms that strict rest is unnecessary and can even be detrimental to recovery. On average, the studies showed that early prescribed exercise resulted in recovery from concussion five days sooner than without prescribed exercise.

Low-Dose Lithium Treatment for Long COVID Explored Thomas J. Guttuso Jr., MD, professor of neurology in the Jacobs School, is the principal investigator on a clinical trial testing lowdose lithium as a potential treatment for long COVID. Because long COVID is believed to stem from chronic inflammation, and lithium has known anti-inflammatory actions, Guttuso decided to recommend that a patient try low-dose lithium for persistent long COVID symptoms. “I was shocked when the patient saw improvement within a matter of days,” says Guttuso. Since then, he discovered that during the pandemic, researchers in Spain had published findings revealing that patients who were already taking lithium for bipolar disorder, and who became acutely infected and hospitalized with

COVID-19, had better outcomes than those not taking lithium. Those findings, and the reports from his own patients, were intriguing. When other physicians heard of Guttuso’s success, they began referring their patients with long COVID to him. Eventually, he was treating 10 additional long COVID patients with low-dose lithium; nine saw improvement from lithium. None experienced side effects. Guttuso’s interest in low-dose lithium therapy goes beyond long COVID. He is currently conducting a clinical trial on using the therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease.

A Clinic in Buffalo is Detecting—and Treating—Hepatitis C Virus in Infants A pediatric infectious disease team led by Jacobs School faculty is screening and treating hepatitis C virus (HCV)-exposed infants. The clinic’s efforts are documented in a new paper based on an 11-year retrospective chart review, published recently in BMC Gastroenterology. “Before we started this program, we screened maybe one to two infants a year for HCV,” said Oscar G. Gómez, MD, PhD, senior author and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Since 2019, we have screened hundreds every year. “Vertical transmission of HCV—that is, from mother to fetus—is the leading cause of HCV infection in children,” he explained. “Yet very few babies get screened.” If an infant becomes infected after exposure during childbirth, the child will likely not present with symptoms. However, at some point in adulthood, the infection can cause inflammation in the liver, tissue fibrosis and eventually hepatic cirrhosis, where too many liver cells are no longer active. HCV infection-associated cirrhosis may also manifest with upper gastrointestinal bleeding, lower GI bleeding and even liver cancer. Says Gómez: “It’s clear that early screening and treatment is critical.”

Popescu Recipient of NINDS Research Program Award Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, professor of biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is the first SUNY-affiliated recipient of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Research Program Award (R35). The grants support the overall research programs of NINDSfunded investigators for up to eight years, at a maximum level of $750,000 direct costs per year—providing greater funding stability to allow investigators increased freedom to embark upon research that breaks new ground, or that extends previous discoveries in new directions. The R35 RPA is highly competitive—eligibility is limited to investigators who currently have at least one active NINDS R01 grant and have been continuously funded by NINDS for at least the past five years. Popescu has received continuous NINDS funding since 2006.

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ARCHER, BISSON JOIN JACOBS SCHOOL LEADERSHIP TEAM AS ASSOCIATE DEANS The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences recently added two new associate deans to its leadership team. Leslie J. Bisson, MD, has been named associate dean of clinical transformation at the Jacobs School, and Fred D. Archer, III, MD, has been named associate dean for admissions in the Office of Medical Education. In his new role, Bisson will be responsible for leading the transformation of UBMD Physicians’ Group, positioning its practice plans for success in the changing health care landscape. He will also focus on helping to shape the future of clinical medicine at the Jacobs School and within UBMD with a commitment to excellence for patients, clinicians, students and partners. “UBMD and its physicians have always been leaders in medicine, clinical care, and research. This position strengthens our commitment to meeting the needs of our community and continuing to advance care in Western New York and beyond by responding nimbly to the challenges ahead,” said Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, dean of the Jacobs School and vice president for health sciences at UB. “The Jacobs School and UBMD are committed to improving the health of Western New York by collaborating with each other and with our health care system partners.” To date, UBMD is comprised of over 630 physicians across its practice plans, providing emergency, primary, specialty and surgical care for all ages throughout the region. Brashear said that the Jacobs School and UBMD are committed to improving the health of Western New York by working collaboratively, both within UBMD, and with its health care system partners.



An accomplished orthopaedic surgeon, Bisson holds several positions, including the June A. and Eugene R. Mindell, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the Jacobs School; medical director and team orthopaedic surgeon for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres; team orthopaedist for SUNY Buffalo State, and president of UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. In addition, he sees patients at his office in Amherst. Bisson received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed an internship in general surgery at Johns Hopkins, a residency in orthopaedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery and a fellowship in sports medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute. He has lectured nationally and internationally, published dozens of peer-reviewed articles, and serves on the editorial boards of high-impact sports medicine scientific journals. Bisson joined the Jacobs School in 2007 as the director of the orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship. His research, teaching, and clinical practice focus on the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of soft tissue injuries, with a particular emphasis on the treatment of degenerative knee conditions, ACL injuries and rotator cuff tears. Earlier this year, Bisson and the medical team with the Buffalo Bills were recognized for their lifesaving emergency response to the collapse of Bills safety Damar Hamlin. They were honored with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPY Awards, an NFL Honors Award, the American Heart Association CPR Award, among several others. In the aftermath of Hamlin’s recovery from cardiac arrest, Bisson has spearheaded an effort to bring hands-only CPR training to Buffalo’s historically underserved communities.


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Archer has been a member of the Department of Pediatrics since 2004, when he completed his residency; he then went on to complete a research fellowship in the department. A Western New York native, Archer graduated from Cornell University and earned a master’s degree from UB. He earned his MD from the Howard University College of Medicine in 2001. “I am thrilled that Dr. Archer has accepted this important new role at the Jacobs School,” said David A. Milling, MD, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education. “As the school looks to continue its growth and bolster the physician workforce in our region, I’m excited about the creativity, passion, and enthusiasm that Dr. Archer will bring to this position.” Archer replaces Dori R. Marshall, MD, who was recently named chief medical officer at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. Board-certified in pediatrics, Archer is currently the interim chief of the Division of General Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics and UBMD Pediatrics. Prior to that role, he served as the physician lead for the Niagara Street Pediatric Clinic. He is also an attending physician at Oishei Children’s Hospital and acts as medical director for Kaleida’s school-based health centers. Archer serves on the Jacobs School admissions committee and has served as the diversity and inclusion advocate in the Department of Pediatrics. He has also played key roles in various educational and community initiatives, especially those geared toward promoting medicine as a career for underrepresented groups. In 2017, he was inducted into the Richard Sarkin Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which promotes and encourages the treatment of the whole patient. Since 2020, he has served as a board member of the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to comprehensively improving the prenatal and perinatal health for Women and Families in Western New York. Since 2010, he has served as Medical Director at Cradle Beach Camp, a summer camp for children with socio-economic disadvantages, complex medical issues or special needs. He has been a board member and mentor for the SENSES Foundation, a notfor-profit group that provides social and educational enrichment for at-risk students in the Buffalo City Schools. Archer is president of the Buffalo chapter of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States, and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health. He is also a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He has advocated against misinformation and disinformation in medicine and has given presentations that provide evidence-based information to students and community members. Topics he has presented on recently include vaccine hesitancy, unconscious bias and racism and child health.

MARC HALTERMAN NAMED SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE OFFICE OF RESEARCH A highly respected physicianscientist with more than two decades of experience in academic, clinical and research leadership, Marc Halterman, MD, PhD, has been appointed senior associate dean and executive director for the Office of Research. He joined the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in October. Most recently, Halterman served as the chair of the Department of Neurology and co-director of the Neurosciences Halterman Institute at the University of Stony Brook School of Medicine. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Georgetown University, Halterman joined the medical scientist training program at the University of Rochester, where he completed residency and postdoctoral training before joining the faculty in the Department of Neurology. His research career has focused on the cellular and immune signaling pathways that lead to neural damage after stroke and cardiac arrest. He has served as principal investigator on grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the American Heart Association (AHA). In addition, he has served as a mentor on training awards from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Cancer Institute and AHA. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications, including papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Gene Therapy, Blood, Neurology, Brain Research, the Journal of the American Heart Association and the Journal of Immunology. He is also a member of several professional societies, including the AHA and the American Academy of Neurology. As the office’s senior associate dean and executive director, Halterman will play a critical role in supporting the Jacobs School’s mission to actively grow UB’s research enterprise. Working in collaboration with the university and community stakeholders, he will support the school’s efforts to increase and enhance research activity; grow external and internal grant funding opportunities; strengthen and streamline research administration; and attract and retain talented new faculty members.

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STATE OF THE SCHOOL ADDRESS Dean Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, makes a point during her second annual State of the School address Oct. 18 in M&T Auditorium.

Future of Health Care Taking Shape at the Jacobs School The 2023 State of the School Address by Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, was titled “Shaping the Future of Health Care” and focused on how the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences continues to play a leading role in improving the health of the Western New York community and beyond. “I am going to talk about a lot of our accomplishments over the past year and look to the future, but if there is one thing I want people to take away it is that we are committed to strengthening the health of the community,” she said. “We are going to do that by bringing together all of our missions — our education, research, clinical and our commitment to the community — so that we can really change the health care and the health of our patients in Buffalo and Western New York.” Brashear, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, reiterated the school’s vision “of advancing the Jacobs School into the nation’s Top 25 public schools of medicine through research innovation, excellence in clinical care and innovation and inclusion in medical education, thereby expanding its global reach and impact.” She touched upon the school’s newly revised strategic plan, consisting of four pillars: education, research, clinical and diversity. Brashear highlighted some of the key elements at the Jacobs School in each of the four areas.

‘Powerhouse for Training Doctors’ In the area of education, Brashear noted that New York State graduates more medical students each year than any other state and that SUNY’s medical schools alone produce more graduates each year than 41 other states, and that the Jacobs School plays a central role in training physicians within SUNY and New York State.


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In the new class of Jacobs School medical students, 24 percent attended UB for undergraduate studies, 47 percent are from Western New York and 90 percent are from New York state. She noted that the Jacobs School Class of 2023 consisted of 172 medical students, 226 biomedical sciences baccalaureate students, 70 master’s students and 18 PhD students. “We are a powerhouse for training doctors, but we are also a powerhouse for training undergraduate students,” Brashear said. “One of the best-kept secrets that John Panepinto (senior associate dean for biomedical education) and his team is trying to change is that we constitute the fifth largest undergraduate enrollment at UB.” In graduate education, the Jacobs School boasts nearly 850 residents and fellows and is ranked the 58th largest of ACGMEsponsoring institutions in the U.S. The Jacobs School has 111 programs, with 70 of them being ACGME-accredited. UB residents and fellows are more likely to stay to practice in their same city/county (Buffalo/Erie County) compared to their peers across all of New York State. The proportion of UB graduates staying in Erie County has been consistently higher than their peers over the past 10 years. “We want all these students to come here, we want them to train here and to stay here. We want them to live and work in Buffalo,” Brashear said.

Redesigned Curriculum Goes into Effect in 2024 Brashear noted the culmination of the Jacobs School’s major curriculum revision efforts will occur next July with the inauguration of the new curriculum. Among the major changes included in the new curriculum are the initiation of learning communities, a shortened Phase 1, emphasis on active learning and more clinical experiences. The bedrock of the new curriculum will be the integration of five core pillars: • foundational sciences • clinical sciences • health systems science • medical humanities • scientific literacy and inquiry Brashear also noted the Jacobs School is in the midst of an historic faculty hiring initiative with more than 120 new faculty members hired since the summer of 2022 — contributing to UB’s largest cohort of faculty hires since the 1970s. “We need more doctors, we need more scientists, and we are hiring,” she said.

Medical School Drives Research Engines of UB In the area of research, the Jacobs School is welcoming new leadership in the form of Marc Halterman, MD, PhD, who will be senior associate dean and executive director for the school’s Office of Research. “He is tasked by me to create an ‘easy’ button for researchers so they can focus on the science, find new opportunities and most importantly, bring people together so they can identify and implement new and innovative projects,” Brashear said.

Brashear noted the school’s research and clinical trials provide multiple benefits to the community — by impacting the health of the community and by creating jobs that positively affect the economic health of the region. She also noted such research efforts lead to more new labs and oftentimes result in new business ventures. The Jacobs School accounted for 32 percent of the research expenditures for UB in fiscal year 2023 and if the collaborative health science schools are added in, the total rises to 51 percent. “We are the research engines of UB. We are making a significant difference in UB’s research enterprise so that as we grow, UB will grow,” Brashear said. Other research highlights noted: • The Jacobs School achieved $74 million in awards with 177 new grants in 2023. Seven of the awards were greater than $3 million each, totaling more than $29 million of the total. • A $4 million investment from UB to boost age-related research, providing seed funding for new interdisciplinary projects. • Jacobs School faculty authored or co-authored 755 peerreviewed publications in 2023. • The Jacobs School has more than 300 active clinical studies (and has room for more!).

Strengthening Clinical Partnerships Brashear emphasized the Jacobs School is strengthening its relationship with its clinical partners — Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Erie County Medical Center, Catholic Health and the VA Western New York Healthcare System. “We want to change the way health care is delivered so it is patient-centered. The best place for a patient is at home with their families, but we also know that the best place is also with our amazing hospital partners here in Western New York when they are sick,” she said. “We cannot take care of our patients, specifically the sickest patients, without our hospital partners. We cannot train our medical students and more than 800 residents without our amazing hospital partners. Our hospital partners are central to our mission.” With 631 physicians, UBMD Physicians’ Group is the largest multispecialty group in Western New York. The practice plan has 61 offices and 92 specialties/subspecialties and sees more than 490,000 unique patients annually through more than 850,000 patient visits. Brashear pointed out that 96 percent of patients from Buffalo seek care locally, a much higher rate than in cities such as Albany, Binghamton, Utica and Erie, Pennsylvania. A new entity, UBMD Primary Care, will result in family medicine and internal medicine providers coalescing primary care efforts at the Conventus Medical Office Building. “It is going to be a one-stop shop for primary care under that one umbrella so I think that will provide much more consistency for patients, with one scheduling presence,” Brashear said. “It’s going to spur collaboration. We want to bring more primary care doctors into the community.”

Western New York’s first Long COVID Recovery Center is up and running, staffed by UBMD internal medicine physicians. The center is funded by a grant from the Cabrina Health Foundation, with support from UB. “The patients are on a registry and we are going to be offering them clinical trials,” Brashear said.

Opening its Doors to the Community Brashear noted that she is proud of the fact the Jacobs School has prioritized community engagement in the past year and acknowledged the efforts of Anyango Kamina, PhD, interim unit diversity officer and assistant dean for student development and academic enhancement. Brashear noted events such as the drone STEM program and an open house that welcomed Buffalo high school students into the medical school building’s laboratories as examples of such efforts. On the topic of diversity, Brashear emphasized, “we are committed to the changing the face of medicine and we are committed to making sure we have a diverse group of physicians, students and all of the people we train so that we can make a really big impact.” “One of the things we want to do is not just bring in more students from diverse backgrounds, but we also want to bring in more faculty so that we can create that continuous pathway for making sure we are prepared for the future.” The Jacobs School continues to advance gender diversity and celebrate powerful woman in medicine, Brashear said. Female faculty numbers are at 31 percent, female undergraduates, graduates and first-year medical students are each about 60 percent and female residents/fellows are at 44 percent. There is also an increased number of women in leadership roles at the Jacobs School with two permanent female department chairs and three interim female chairs.

Focus on Addressing Health Disparities Brashear said a number of special events at the school are aimed at addressing health disparities and creating an inclusive community. Among them are the annual Igniting Hope Conference, the Social Justice Fellowship Research Symposium, the Beyond the Knife endowed lectureship and the inaugural LGBTQIA+ Education and Inclusivity in Health Care event. Brashear also thanked a number of faculty members for their 30 years or more of service and singled out Alexander “Alastair” C. Brownie, PhD, for his 60 years of service to the Jacobs School. Brashear closed her address by noting the release of the “Future of Health” report, issued jointly by the Jacobs School and the Jacobs Institute. “This report is about the future of health and where health care is going,” she said, noting a formal launch of the project is scheduled for Nov. 29 at the Jacobs School. For more information or to view the entire State of the School address, visit: https://medicine.buffalo.edu/about/state-of-school.html

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CLASS OF 2023 PROFILE 175 matches – 87 female; 88 male

The weather may have been a bit dreary, but the smiles inside the Powerhouse in South Buffalo were bright as the sun as medical students in the University at Buffalo’s Class of 2023 gathered on St. Patrick’s Day for Match Day, a rite of passage for the prospective physicians, as they learned where they will train in residency.

27.4% of class (48 students) matched at UB

Most popular matches 10 internal medicine 7 anesthesiology 5 emergency medicine 4 psychiatry

Most popular specialties

Where are they now? Members of UB’s Class of 2023 are doing residences in cities all across the U.S.


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35 internal medicine 17 pediatrics 14 psychiatry 14 emergency medicine 11 obstetrics/gynecology


Keynote speaker Eric Rubin, MD, speaks to the 2023 class of medical school grads while wearing a UB cap with medical insignia.

In a pair of ceremonies this spring, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences celebrated the academic achievements of nearly 500 students. A total of 175 students graduated at the school’s 177th medical school commencement on April 28; more than 300 students received their degrees at the biomedical sciences ceremony on May 21. The events featured impressive guest speakers who played key roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric J. Rubin, MD, PhD, editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, spoke at the medical school commencement. Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine, gave the keynote at the biomedical sciences commencement. Both ceremonies, presided over by Dean

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, were held at Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus in Amherst. At the medical school commencement, nine graduates earned dual degrees (3 MD/PhD; 3 MD/MBA; 2 MD/oral and maxillofacial surgery; 1 MD/ MPH). Two hundred twenty-six baccalaureate degree candidates took part in the biomedical sciences ceremony with another 70 students earning master’s degrees and 18 receiving doctoral degrees. Graduates completed work in 14 programs and departments at the school. Three graduate students and 10 undergraduates were singled out for special honors, including two students, Haeni Lee and Richard Pasternack, who received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest State University of New York undergraduate honor.

Graduates at the Jacobs School’s commencement ceremonies were all smiles after receiving their degrees.

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, dean of the Jacobs School, poses with Daniel Oluwagbemileke Popoola after he received his diploma.

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Family Matters

In Jacobs School’s Class of 2027, four pairs of siblings–including three sets of twins– team up to tackle medical school together


irst-year medical students often hear that finding a study partner can be helpful in getting through the rigorous curriculum. Several first-year students at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are starting off with a “study buddy” they’ve known all their lives. Three pairs of twins—plus another pair of siblings—are among the 184 students in the Jacobs School’s Class of 2027. “As far as I know, this happy coincidence is totally unprecedented,” says Dori R. Marshall, MD, former associate dean and director of medical admissions in the Jacobs School. “We are delighted that these high-achieving siblings have decided that the Jacobs School is the best place for them to pursue—together—their dreams of becoming physicians.” The Jacobs School welcomed the 2027 class of medical students with its traditional White Coat Ceremony Aug. 4 at

Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The rite of passage dates back 30 years and is intended to help new medical students establish a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine. In front of supportive family members and friends, each student is called on stage individually to be cloaked in their white coat for the first time, and later, all members of the class stand and recite the Hippocratic oath of medicine. Samantha Bordonaro, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for student and academic affairs, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, remarking on the composition of the white coat itself. “It’s made out of tiny threads woven together. Over the course of your time here, you will have innumerable interactions with patients, families, faculty and staff, fellow students, and the greater Buffalo community. You will be part of a team interacting with patients on the happiest or most difficult days of their lives. You’ll see babies enter the world, and others depart. Each of these moments will also weave into the fabric of who you are. While the individual threads may be thin and delicate, this fabric can be strong and Every medical school class is unique in its own way, but the complex and beautiful.” Jacobs School’s Class of 2027 stands out for its family ties. An unprecedented four pairs of siblings, including three sets of twins, are among the 184 students beginning their pursuit of medicine this fall at UB.


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Read more about each set of siblings on opposite page.

FAST FACTS About the Jacobs School’s Class of 2027:


enrolled students

More than


total number of applicants


of the class is composed of women


hail from Western New York


received their undergraduate degree from UB


of the class identifies as bilingual

More than

Chidalu and Chidera Anameze

Hannah and Josef Iqbal

Identical Twins Hometown: Albany, N.Y. Attended University at Buffalo

Fraternal Twins Hometown: Orchard Park, N.Y. Attended Canisius University

As undergraduates in the UB Experiential Learning Network, Chidalu and Chidera conducted research on maternal and infant health under Associate Professor Xiaozhong Wen, PhD, in the Department of Pediatrics’ Behavioral Medicine Laboratory.

Hannah and Josef grew up doing everything together— from swimming to karate to tap-dancing class. In college, they shared an interest in health care. Hannah was vice president of Canisius’ Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students; Josef was president of its Society for Pre-Health Professionals.

“We work together almost all the time,” says Chidalu. “We took every single class at UB together and we’re going to do medical school together. It’s just easier for us: We are better together!”

Eric and Stephen Dhillon

“We both have always known we wanted to become physicians and couldn’t have dreamed of a better place than UB to continue our journey right at home,” says Hannah.

Camryn and Marisa Warren

Siblings Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y. Attended Queen’s University (Ontario, Canada)

Fraternal Twins Hometown: Williamsville, N.Y. Attended Canisius University

Eric and Stephen always knew they wanted to study medicine. But Stephen’s path to medical school was deferred while he chased his other passion: professional hockey. After stints with pro leagues in the U.S. and Canada, he decided to pursue medical education at the same time his younger brother was also applying to med school.

Like the Anameze sisters, Camryn and Marisa took part in the Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences (CLIMB) undergraduate program, an interdisciplinary summer research program at UB. And they served alongside Hannah Iqbal as president and treasurer, respectively, of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students at Canisius.

“We’re very fortunate that everything worked out and we’re classmates together,” Stephen says.

“I am grateful UB gave us the opportunity to create our journey in medicine together,” says Marisa. “We are a team, and we are excited to take on this new challenge as a team.”

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Finding meaning in a near-tragic NFL collision By Patrick Broadwater

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin leaves Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati in an ambulance after suffering sudden cardiac arrest during a game with the Cincinnati Bengals in January. Photo: Schetm Wikimedia Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.


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he play looked innocent enough.

It was just past the midway mark of the first quarter of a highly anticipated Jan. 2 Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, two of the National Football League’s marquee playoff contenders. The Bengals led 7-3 and had the ball near midfield, looking to add to their lead in front of a raucous hometown crowd. Bengals receiver Tee Higgins caught a pass over the middle, running full speed perpendicular to the sidelines to elude a Bills linebacker, then abruptly turned upfield and lowered his right shoulder into the chest of Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin, who had arrived at the same spot just a fraction of a second earlier. Hamlin twisted and wrestled Higgins to the ground to end the play, then popped back to his feet instantly, showing no immediate ill effects from the violent collision. Hamlin reached up to adjust his facemask, wobbled slightly, then collapsed backward. Dozens of similar-looking hits take place in every game, each week of the NFL season. When world-class athletes crash into each other, sometimes at speeds of up to 20 mph, injuries are bound to occur.

Sometimes they are serious. But in the vast majority of instances, the players pick themselves up, line up for the next play and prepare themselves for the next hit. Hamlin would not line up for another down for the remainder of the season. The impact of the collision with Higgins had triggered “commotio cordis,” a rare cardiac arrest that follows a blow to the chest. Hamlin’s heart had literally stopped beating. Within seconds Bills medical and training staff rushed on to the field to resuscitate the 24-year-old before a nowhushed stadium and millions watching at home on television. Four months from that fateful night in Cincinnati, Damar Hamlin was medically cleared to return to football. In August,

he made the Bills’ 53-man roster for the 2023 season. Both were huge milestones and signified the best possible outcome to a feel-good story that drew international attention. But, the fact of the matter is that most stories involving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) end far differently. Roughly 350,000 people suffer an OHCA event each year, according to the American Heart Association. Only about 10% survive. However, if CPR is performed immediately, the individual’s chance of survival will double, even triple. That Hamlin would one day return to the NFL is remarkable; the fact that he is one of the small percentage of people to survive such an event is actually not all that surprising, considering that an NFL stadium is probably one of the safest places in the world outside of a medical facility to sustain a life-threatening injury. At a typical NFL game, there are dozens of medical personnel on the sidelines ready to spring into action. Just like the coaching staffs from their respective teams, they do pre-game preparations, enter with a game plan, and make sure they have all the tools they may need at their disposal. “The NFL is highly resourced,” says Leslie J. Bisson, MD, June A. and Eugene

Thirty-seven days after collapsing on the field, Hamlin speaks in front of members of the medical and training teams from the Buffalo Bills and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center at the NFL Honors award show in Phoenix. Among those joining Hamlin onstage are Jacobs School faculty members Leslie Bisson and Marc Fineberg. Photo: Associated Press

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R. Mindell, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and medical director for the Bills and National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres. “Trainers and team doctors are not out doing CPR every day—it’s not necessarily our area of expertise—but we’re trained to do it, and we practice it.


“Our team started resuscitating as soon as they arrived and the AED (automated external defibrillator) was there. When it happens like that and a guy is shocked and he ends up going back to play football again, that’s a very successful result,” Bisson says. “There was a lot of positive energy and thoughts and prayers for Damar and all of that is incredibly important, but at the end of the day, we had some trained personnel with simple equipment and a plan. If you have that, it should be almost predictable what you can accomplish.” Perhaps so, but the fast reactions of the Bills’ medical and training staff and their ability to execute their plan under the duress of the moment before a worldwide audience certainly did not go unnoticed. Just a month after the injury, Hamlin, the first responders who saved his life, and the medical team at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center were brought on stage together and recognized at the league’s NFL Honors awards show. A few

months later, the Bills medical and training staff received the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2023 ESPY Awards. “It’s a little surreal, to be totally honest,” says Bisson. “It’s a weird feeling because I don’t think any of us feel like heroes. It’s our job—we’re there primarily for these kinds of things—but we do certainly appreciate the gratitude and positive thoughts of others. If we can illuminate areas that maybe could benefit from more focused attention and move things to an even better place, then that would be phenomenal.” In their minds, Bisson and the other first responders were just doing what anyone else in their place would have done—their actions didn’t require special talents or rare equipment. They were simply in the right place at the right time and had the knowledge and tools they needed to respond effectively. The same tools and knowledge that anyone and everyone could, and should, have access to. Bisson had been through similar situations before with pro athletes. In 2008, he played a key role in saving the life of Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik after a skate cut his carotid artery during an NHL game in Buffalo. A year earlier, Bisson was part of the team of first responders that helped Bills tight end Kevin Everett recover from on-field paralysis stemming from a hit during a season-opening game against the Denver Broncos. In the aftermath of the Hamlin injury, Bisson knew that the spotlight that had been thrust upon them would dissipate just as suddenly as it appeared. He began to reflect on ways to turn what could have been a randomly tragic event into one of lasting significance and purpose. He and his colleagues had been handed a microphone on a grand stage; but what was it that they wanted to say?

“I really started paying attention to the data on CPR, how often it is performed by bystanders, and especially how there is a racial and community disparity in how often people get bystander CPR in certain areas versus others,” Bisson says. “I realized that a lot of people were paying attention to cardiac arrest and CPR, and that our medical and athletic training team had a window of opportunity to possibly help close that gap and improve our community. “One way to move to a brighter future is to get to where there isn’t any sort of community or socioeconomic or racial disparity, that the intervention is applied uniformly in every community. So I began to think about what could we do if we wanted to move the needle on this. You have to look at the barriers and see how they can be overcome.” The immediate goal Bisson came up with is to train 3,000 Western New York high school athletes and their families in CPR and AED use, with a focus on Buffalo’s historically underserved communities. The Jacobs School’s orthopaedics department has existing relationships with dozens of schools in the

“One way to move to a brighter future is to get to where... the intervention is applied uniformly in every community. area already, thanks to its athletic trainer program that embeds trainers in those schools and communities. Leveraging that relationship and a grant from UB, the department is partnering with the American Heart Association, New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy, Buffalo’s Black Nurses Association and the Jacobs School’s The Jacobs School’s Department of Orthopaedics staffed a tent at Buffalo’s Juneteenth celebration this year to bring awareness and provide CPR/ AED training to members of the public.


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Department of Emergency Medicine to conduct hands-on educational sessions to teach students and their families how to respond in case of a cardiac arrest episode. Already, they have conducted successful events at several area schools, including Buffalo Public Schools, Maryvale, Cheektowaga, Cleveland Hill and Lockport They also hosted a CPR/AED awareness tent at Buffalo’s bustling Juneteenth celebration “It was great to see teenage festival attendees practicing chest compressions on our CPR mannequins,” Bisson says. “We can teach you in 10-15 minutes the bare essentials, so you’re better prepared if you ever encounter this situation.” The message to all bystanders is simple. Know the basics of how to respond, but even if you can’t do everything, doing something is still better than doing nothing at all. “Damar was saved by trained people, equipment and a plan. If we can get more people to feel comfortable calling 911, beginning chest compressions, or finding and using an AED no matter where a cardiac arrest happens, we’ll be closing that gap.” His department recently received a $300,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Foundation to broaden the reach of the programming, and is conducting research to see if CPR education is just as effective coming from high school coaches who had been taught by athletic trainers, which could diffuse the knowledge of CPR exponentially. “The common denominator in every sport is the coach,” Bisson says. “We have to be able to show that it works—can they teach it and will athletes learn it as effectively and be as likely to respond as when they’ve been taught by someone in health care? “We can make Western New York a better place in this way. Wouldn’t it be cool if 20 years from now, this is ingrained in our athletic culture? “We all know that at some point, what happened to Damar will sort of drift away and people will focus on other things. But at the end of the day, if we can turn all the positive energy from that into something that’s lasting, something that’s sustainable, that would be really cool. “Our mission is to make Western New York the safest place on the planet to participate in sports.” To make a gift to the Department of Orthopaedics Surgery Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund, which supports the community CPR/AED initiative, please visit: https://bit.ly/3Rq4MYY

Jacobs School Med Student Mohamed Bah Lands Clinical Rotation with Bills as Part of NFL Diversity Pipeline Program Mohamed Bah, a third-year student in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, spent August doing a clinical rotation with the Buffalo Bills. He was one of 19 students nationwide chosen to be part of the National Football League Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative. A joint program of the NFL Physicians Society and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, the initiative is aimed at increasing and diversifying the pipeline of students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine, with the ultimate goal of diversifying NFL club medical staff. In this Q&A, Bah shares what he got out of his unique experience with the Bills.


What was your first day like?

I spent the first day meeting the medical staff and the trainers. Dr. Bisson introduced me to a few players and had me see some of them go through a few team physicals. At the beginning of every training camp, players will undergo a complete physical, especially those who had previous injuries. And the first week of practice there’s no contact. By the second week, they start to pad up.


Was there a routine to your days?

Initially, Dr. Bisson had me come in early before practice, to see how the trainers prep the players, see them when they pad up. There is a lot of preparation. I was a collegiate athlete so I know how teams get ready for competition, but this is way more in depth, a lot more physical therapy and preparation for practice.


What struck you the most about being behind the scenes? I met so many of the people on staff: there’s even a sports scientist. I also met the team staff, offensive and defensive coodinators and coaches for each position

and the scouters. There’s a ton of different people, that was the biggest thing for me, learning how many different parts of the organization there are. You see these guys on TV, you see them perform but you don’t know how many people were actually behind their performance.


How did the experience impact your education as a medical student? I saw that as a sports medicine doctor, you have to be a generalist, you have to be good with caring for all the different parts of the musculoskeletal system, you have to be versed in stuff outside of your own general practice. In addition to the sports medicine and orthopedic doctors there are internal medicine primary care doctors because players have regular health issues too, they get sick. And the doctors work with the team and are at every practice. And you see the spine surgeons, neurologists, and neurosurgeon unaffiliated consultants at games. They monitor for concussions. They watch the game and rewind the plays. During the preseason, I was allowed to be in the concussion booth with one of the neuro consultants and his whole consulting team which was a fantastic experience. The consultants are in constant communication with the medical staff on the field, getting feedback in real time.


What was the upshot of your experience?

It was a very humbling experience. You get to see the players on a personal level, they’re not the guys you see on TV, you see them in the locker room, see their personalities and how funny they are. And I like working with this population. I took away the fact that there’s just so much going on behind the scenes. And it’s such a different type of atmosphere from working in the hospitals. We watch practice every day, looking for injuries and seeing things in real time vs. being in the hospital and seeing patients in rooms. It was a little bit of culture shock frankly, coming back to the clinic after practice camp, but I’m glad to be back. -Ellen Goldbaum

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The project team, from left: Joseph Costa, Lauren McLaughlin-Kelly, Mathew Fiel, Cianna Currie and Chloe Cottone.

Collaboration with Engineering Students

Helping Hands Interprofessional collaboration keeps medical student’s surgical dream alive Story by Bill Bruton

Photos by Sandra Kicman

Second-year medical student Chloe Cottone had a problem that could have quickly derailed her dream of becoming a surgeon. But a collaboration between the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is keeping that dream alive. Cottone deals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that affects connective tissues—in this case, her joints. She has hypermobility in her joints, which means she has an unusually large range of movement and is at risk of injury because her joints are too flexible. “When I was in gross anatomy lab, I struggled to use some of the surgical instruments in conventional ways because of the hypermobility—specifically in my thumbs,” she explains. She tried swan splints, which can be worn on the fingers or thumb and are designed to block hyperextension without limiting flexion. “There are some companies that make metal ones, but they’re extremely expensive. They were like $100 a pop. And I couldn’t find anything online that did


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what I needed and could be used under a surgical glove,” Cottone says. As a medical student without a lot of extra spending money, she got creative. She went to an arts and crafts store and bought a ring sizer and some copper wire to make something herself. “They worked for a little bit. Unfortunately, they ripped through the surgical gloves,” she says. Her gross anatomy instructor, Stuart D. Inglis, PhD, instructor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, saw she was struggling. “What she was finding was that when she was holding the scalpel, her fingers would bend in an awkward sort of way and pop out of joint and pop back in, causing her a great deal of pain,” Inglis says. There had to be a solution.


“She was asking me about it, and she showed me some of the braces that were commercially available—pretty expensive things. But it did get us to talking that we could probably create a 3D digital print of these joint braces for her fingers,” Inglis says. At the time, he was working with some biomedical engineering students who were creating synthetic prosthetic hands that could be used during surgical simulation. He brought Cottone’s project to the students, and they thought it was something they could take on. Cottone created a new design and showed it to the engineering students, who made tweaks along the way. “After meeting with the engineering students, we took the traditional swan splint design for inspiration and then made an entirely new kind of splint that’s lighter, more functional and cheap—because you can 3D print them—and they do the same thing,” says Cottone. “We worked together to make this design that was going to be optimal in function with a material that doesn’t abrade gloves.” They brought in Joseph A. Costa, PhD, instructor of pathology and anatomical sciences, who manages the 3D printing operation at the Jacobs School.

Chloe Cottone uses prototype 3D finger braces to help with her hypermobility issues as she practices using sutures.

“One of the key factors in terms of what we want these braces to do—not only their functionality, but if she’s going to be using these in the gross anatomy lab or surgery—we want these to be able to go through autoclave [steam sterilizing

typically used for health care or industrial applications] to be sanitized. We want them to be temperature-resistant,” Costa says. “Through my contacts and what we know about 3D printing, we figured out what material would work, and what wouldn’t work.” They came up with a plastic material, VisiJet M2S–HT250, a product of 3D Systems Inc. that is resistant to temperatures up to 104 degrees Celsius (219 degrees Fahrenheit).

material. And you can buy a kilogram of this material for like $20, so it’s just a few cents for each finger brace,” Fiel says. The stronger material needed to survive being autoclaved costs more, but is still much less expensive than anything already on the market. “Mathew’s working on prototypes that have multiple interlocking parts to be able to create something that is sturdy, that captures all the small moving parts effectively, and allows for a final product

“This is a silicone-based material that can be sterilized. The prototypes are soft, they don’t hurt the skin, they don’t break through gloves,” Cottone says. “What’s really cool is that this material can be autoclaved."

The prototypes include a copper wire prototype Chloe Cottone made herself; the red plastic braces and a white brace developed by the project team can be autoclaved.

Developing a Prototype Mathew Fiel and Cianna Currie, who are pursuing master’s degrees in the Department of Biomedical Engineering—a joint collaboration between the Jacobs School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—and Lauren McLaughlin-Kelly, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biological sciences, were brought into the project last fall. McLaughlin-Kelly—who does research with Inglis—and Currie set up meetings with orthopaedic surgeons for design feedback; research on existing models, patents and medical feasibility; and project planning and coordination. “Based on Chloe’s feedback, we made tweaks to the model. We wanted to make sure it can survive the autoclave and later we’re going to contact the proper surgical associations to see if it will be able to be implemented in the operating room,” Currie says. Fiel spent a few weeks working on the prototype. He used the 3D software tool Blender to print the prototype, which was adjusted to better fit Cottone’s fingers. “Each one of the original red plastic braces only takes two or three grams of

that can move smoothly along with her thumbs,” Costa says. “The next step is to attempt to print Mathew’s new prototype that has interlocking parts and see if that accommodates Chloe’s thumb movements a little bit more naturally and comfortably. Right now, we’re just working our way through prototypes.”

Benefit for Those in Health Care, Other Jobs The prototypes could be a game-changer. Cottone says that what started as a small personal project is now something that can have a much larger impact. “Now we are thinking of how we can make these available to other people who work in health care who have hypermobility, who can’t afford several hundred dollars on metal splints.” She’s excited about how the project has progressed. “I think it’s wonderful. When I first started anatomy, I knew I wanted to go into procedural medicine, but I had a little bit of doubt. ‘Is this something my body will allow me to do?’ Even though I’m extremely dexterous, I didn’t see any other surgeons with different types of anatomy or deficits,” Cottone says. “There could be

other potential surgeons out there with hypermobility who are putting themselves down thinking they can’t become what they want to become. And who knows, even outside of surgeons, health care workers and other people who want to do dexterous things but their hypermobility is holding them back, they’re missing out. Now maybe they won’t have to.”

Patents for Prototypes Cottone says the group is working on getting a patent for the prototypes, which could have uses beyond the operating room. For instance, people suffering from other joint problems—specifically arthritis—may find these finger braces particularly useful. But regardless of how far this project ultimately reaches, this type of collaborative effort is exactly what UB has been fostering and encouraging among its units. “As this was developing,” Inglis says, “I was thinking that this is a situation of someone who has a particular need reaching out to a faculty member in one department who can then reach out to someone in a separate department, so all these individuals in these different silos in the university come together to create an effective product that can really have a significant role in changing someone’s life.” It’s been quite a journey for Cottone and the others—and it’s not over yet. “We’ll see where this takes us. We’re hoping to make this as accessible as we can to as many people as possible,” Cottone says. “It would have saved me a lot of time and energy if I had these available to me when I started.”

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See how UB schools collaborated to solve Chloe’s hypermobility issue. medicine.buffalo.edu/cottone-collab



A perfect storm Family intervention, UB’s pioneering stroke care help medical student Sydney Johnson survive (and thrive) after rare COVID-related brain clots By Ellen Goldbaum | Photos by Sandra Kicman Starting with the moment they receive their acceptance letters, medical students know they have succeeded in overcoming some very tough odds. That realization may quickly fade once they plunge deep into their rigorous coursework. But for Sydney Johnson, now a member of the Class of 2026, the odds she had to overcome to get back to medical school after an unexpected health issue last year are nothing short of extraordinary.

Sydney Johnson in the hospital just days after her surgery with her medical team led by Elad Levy (left), L. Nelson Hopkins Chair of Neurological Surgery in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and co-director of the Gates Stroke Center. Also pictured are Neil Almeida (center) and Justin Cappuzzo, both UB neurosurgery residents.

A Buffalo native who graduated from Dartmouth College, Johnson was heading into her second year as a University at Buffalo medical student in August 2022. As vice president of the Buffalo chapter of the Student National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest organization serving the needs of medical students of color, Johnson wasn’t just studying intensely. She was busy with club activities and helping with the school’s white coat ceremony.


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Before long, Johnson had developed a cough and a sore throat, her back ached and she was tired. When she tested positive for COVID-19, she wasn’t surprised. “I wasn’t that concerned,” she recalls. “Two days later, I was studying again, doing problem sets.” Then she developed a migraine, which she hadn’t had in years. Typically, she would take some medication and it would go away, but this time she couldn’t keep anything down. “The headache just never went away, and I kept throwing up,” she says. Within a few days, Johnson gave up on studying. She tried to read emails but couldn’t manage to look at the screen. She noticed her fingers were tingling a little, and she thought maybe she had slept on her hand. She contacted the Jacobs School and told them she would have to postpone an upcoming exam; she was too sick to study. Sydney’s mother, Nahkema Clay, was growing ever more concerned. “Being a nurse, I was making mental notes,” she says. “I was thinking, why is she not getting better?” Clay tried to get her daughter to eat and drink. She encouraged her to sit on the porch, to get some fresh air. Clay remembers saying: “Tie your robe. Why are you holding your arm like that?” But when Johnson tried to grab her sash to tie it, she couldn’t.

‘I think my daughter just had a stroke’ “I said, ‘This is not normal. We’re going to the hospital,’” her mother recalls. “I called my boss and said, ‘I think my daughter just had a stroke.’” Johnson realized that she was having all the symptoms the stroke commercials warn about: Her facial muscles weren’t working, her speech was slow and her balance was compromised. In less than an hour, the Erie County


Medical Center got Johnson into an ambulance to send her to the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI), a Kaleida Health facility and a major teaching affiliate of the Jacobs School. At the GVI, UB neurosurgeons have been pioneering innovative approaches to treating strokes for decades. On the way, Johnson began receiving the blood thinner heparin. When she arrived, she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit. By the next morning, Johnson was declining rapidly. She was diagnosed with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a rare condition where a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses, preventing blood from draining out of the brain.

“She was in acute crisis. She had already had a bleed into the brain.” Elad I. Levy, MD

Elad I. Levy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, L. Nelson Hopkins Chair of Neurological Surgery, and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery in the Jacobs School, was leading the care team. That turned out to be fortuitous: Levy, an international expert in neurovascular disease, had already diagnosed and successfully treated a number of CVST cases, often in otherwise healthy young individuals. Some of them, like Johnson, had been infected with COVID-19. “She was in acute crisis,” says Levy, co-director of the Gates Stroke Center and president of UBNS, the neurosurgery practice plan of UBMD Physicians’ Group. “She had already had a bleed into the brain. CVST has a death rate of about 5%. Most people can survive, but when the condition is so robust, as it was with Sydney with every vein occluded, that’s a much higher fatality rate.” What was the cause? Johnson was experiencing a number of risk factors simultaneously: She was infected with COVID-19, she was dehydrated, she was taking hormonal contraception and is a carrier for sickle cell trait, meaning she doesn’t have the disease but carries one gene for it. “It was a perfect storm for her,” Levy says.

“In these very rare cases when multiple veins are involved, the blood coming into the brain can’t drain out. This causes the brain to swell in the skull, which can lead to hemorrhage.” “I saw her in the ICU before the procedure,” says Rosalind Lai, MD, now an assistant professor of neurosurgery at UB, who at the time was a UB neurosurgery fellow after completing her residency at Harvard. She assisted Levy in the operation. “Sydney was rapidly declining, very sleepy, weak on one side and not doing well,” Lai says. She noted that seeing such a young healthy person, particularly someone training to be a physician, so compromised made a definite impression on her. “Especially because she is a medical student and such a high-functioning individual, it hit closer to home.” When a single clot in the brain is involved, the standard of care is to treat

As part of her ongoing recovery, Sydney Johnson works out regularly in a local gym.

the patient with blood thinners. But, Levy said, multiple clots in the veins of the brain, which is what Johnson had developed, require a more aggressive approach. “You need to act fast and mechanically pull those clots out of the brain veins,” he says. “The faster you get in there to open up the vessels, the better the patient will do.” The decision was made to do just that, a procedure called a mechanical venous thrombectomy, where the neurosurgeons literally suck the clots out of the veins. The procedure is more complicated and riskier than with a classic arterial stroke. “The veins have thinner walls than arteries,” Lai explains. “So we have to be very careful and skillful to do the procedure without causing damage to the walls of the veins.” “It was scary,” says Clay, Johnson’s mother. “I signed the health care proxy right there.”

Post-procedure vigilance The next time the family saw Levy, he brought them the news they had been so anxious to hear: The procedure was a success. But it was clear that they would need to be very vigilant during the coming hours and days. Those hours and days were among the hardest. “I wanted to know, where was the threshold for being in or out of the woods? Not knowing was just agonizing,” Clay says. Johnson surprised the team with the speed of her recovery; she was able to squeeze a nurse’s hand soon after the procedure, and it wasn’t long before she was sitting in a chair. As soon as she could talk, she told her mother that she would definitely be going back to medical school. Her mother wholeheartedly agreed. “If I have to quit my job to care for you, you are going back to school,” she recalls telling her daughter. The joy and relief the family experienced was shared by the whole medical team. News of Johnson’s outcome spread throughout the hospital and the Jacobs School. “Experiencing a severe stroke is a terrifying ordeal for anyone. But going through such a harrowing event when you are an otherwise young, healthy person is even more traumatic, both for the patient

and her family,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “All of us at the Jacobs School are grateful for the lifesaving, quick actions of Sydney’s medical team.”

“This is a Buffalo native, born and bred here, with an unbelievable future, who could have met what could have been a tragic end. But now she will go back to medical school and realize her dream of being a doctor.” Elad I. Levy, MD

As he prepared Johnson for discharge, Levy pointed out that this positive outcome resulted from the expertise and collaboration among the whole medical team, including neurosurgery fellows and residents, as well as John M. Hourihane, MD, clinical assistant professor of neurology and a neurologist with UBMD Neurology and Kaleida Health. “Every one of them was critical to achieving Sydney’s exceptional recovery,” says Levy. “This is a Buffalo native, born and bred here, with an unbelievable future, who could have met what could have been a tragic end,” he says. “But now she will go back to medical school and realize her dream of being a doctor.” Still, plenty of challenges remained. The fatigue was overwhelming. Johnson had to use a walker at first. Her days were packed with appointments with physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurosurgeons, neurologists, cardiologists and hematologists, so many that her mother had to take time off from her job. Her mother’s assistance was essential; there would have been no way she could have made those arrangements herself. In addition, she couldn’t drive. Given the proverbial firehose of material that medical students are required to

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“She took this opportunity to intensify her activism and continued her research on issues related to health care disparities within underserved communities.” David A. Milling, MD

digest on a daily basis, Johnson understood that she wouldn’t be able to resume her studies with her classmates—she had already missed too much. Instead, she opted to take a temporary medical leave of absence. In August 2023, she returned to school as a member of the Class of 2026. True to form, Johnson couldn’t just take it easy during her leave. “It is not at all surprising how much Sydney continued to accomplish,” says David A. Milling, MD, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean of medical education in the Jacobs School. “She took this opportunity to intensify her activism and continued her research on issues related to health care disparities within underserved communities.” Throughout the fall semester, Johnson continued to serve as vice president of the Student National Medical Association, organizing and running many of its activities. She was also elected co-president of the newly established Jonathan D. Daniels Chapter of White Coats for Black Lives. The organization is focused on improving health care outcomes of Black and brown communities in areas served by the Jacobs School. And during this past summer, she assisted Liise Kayler, MD, chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery in the UB Department of Surgery and program director of the Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation and Kidney Care at Erie County Medical Center, in her research into post-kidney transplant education videos for patients. Johnson did interviews with patients to find out how the videos affected their knowledge, confidence and concerns after receiving the transplant.


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Johnson also worked with the Office of Medical Curriculum and SNUG (Should Never Use Guns), a community group that works to combat gun violence, to develop a community-focused, trauma elective. The course has been approved and will for the first time be offered this spring for fourthyear students. Of course, Johnson’s main goal during the past year was to focus on recovery and regaining strength. To build up her endurance and balance, she started a highintensity, low-impact conditioning routine at a local gym, then transitioned to a more intensive weight training regimen. She has checkups every six months and undergoes MRIs on a regular basis. She has taken plenty of lessons from her experience, especially the importance of focusing on the patient’s family as well as the patient. “They say this all the time in class,” she says, “that you are not just treating the patient, you are also treating the family. Checking in with the family has a larger impact than it may seem. I have seen already that it can take almost no time to provide a small update that the family has been anxiously waiting to hear. There are many people holding their breath when it comes to a sick loved one. That extra moment of attention given to the family can change their entire experience.” Johnson’s efforts have also not gone unnoticed by her peers and her mentors. “It makes me feel good that you have a Sydney who has had plenty of hurdles and she keeps moving, and then you add this additional hurdle and … she keeps moving,” says Timothy M. Adams, MD, clinical assistant professor of surgery. “What she doesn’t know is that other people are watching her, taking inspiration from her.”


After a rare COVID-related stroke, Sydney Johnson is back at the Jacobs School, where she continues to study and lead social justice initiatives.

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic changes to the health care landscape that flowed in its wake, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences leadership, in partnership with the Jacobs Institute, enlisted a team of researchers, science writers and doctors to develop a provocative perspective on the road ahead. The result is The Future of Health, a just-published report looking at a wide range of health care topics shaped by emerging technologies and social and cultural dynamics. At first glance, the future of health care in the US looks daunting. Unlike the rest of the developed world, life expectancy is decreasing here, thanks to the politicization of health care, wealth disparity and surging increases in deaths linked to obesity, gun violence and drug addiction. Looming behind these national dynamics is global climate change, poised to become the world’s top public health crisis. These facts are a call to action and emphasize the need to take a holistic view of health care in our country.

of the nation’s public/private push to develop novel cancer treatments. It also highlights many emerging technologies poised to extend the productive, active years of life it refers to as “healthspan.” “It’s our hope,” the report’s editors write, “that this report will spur the leaders of the institutions that shape health in the US—hospital systems, insurance carriers, pharmaceutical companies, medical schools and most of all policymaking and regulatory bodies—to seize the opportunities presented by the emerging technologies of today and tomorrow, and to re-engineer our health system with compassion, common sense and ethical clarity.”

An excerpt from the report, “Make Me Bionic,” is reproduced on the following pages. This chapter examines advances in neuro-connected bionic prosthetics and how they are becoming more accessible to people across the socioeconomic spectrum.

But The Future of Health also calls out optimistic signs—like the success

To learn more about the Future of Health report or to download a copy of the publication, visit:


American amputees, 2022

2M American amputees, 2050


Globally, people living with limb loss, 2022


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MAKE ME BIONIC Until recently, people who lose their limbs or are born without them have been forced to use prosthetics little advanced from the stereotypical wooden peg leg of yore. Today, 60 million people around the world and nearly 2 million in the US live with limb loss. That number in the US is expected to double by 2050, mostly due to the type 2 diabetes epidemic, as well as vascular disease, trauma and cancer. The good news: prosthetics are getting better, smarter and cheaper thanks to ever-increasing AI brainpower and the democratization of 3D manufacturing. Today, implanted neuroprosthetic devices help restore functionality across a wide range of neurological and behavioral issues, from seizures and Parkinson’s to loss of hearing and sight—and, recently, targeting OCD and obesity. The list of deep brain stimulation (DBS)–treatable conditions will grow exponentially. Within a decade, new neuroprosthetic techniques and interfaces will make it unnecessary to perform surgery to implant these life-saving devices.

BUILDING A BETTER ARTIFICIAL LIMB A new generation of “smart” prosthetic limbs, designed using 3D modeling tools and made with 3D printers, is on the horizon. These include bionic

legs that create an effortless gait by anticipating the movements of wearers by continuously monitoring trajectory in relation to the body and the ground. Some plug directly into human nerve tissue for high-fidelity access to electrical signals and muscle movements, while others use sensors in the prosthetic socket to foster neurological connections. TrueLimb, a durable, 3D-printed prosthetic arm with more than 30 sensors guiding its bionic functionality, is tailored to a user’s exact size, shape and even skin tone. Myoelectric sensors in BrainRobotics’ prosthetic hands connect to muscles and nerves in residual limbs, converting electrical signals from the brain into precise finger movements or programmed actions. Laurent Frossard, a bionic limb scientist at Australia’s Griffith University, and David Lloyd, a Boston University mechanical engineer, are combining biomechanics and computational modeling to create wearable and noninvasive diagnostic devices that rely on designing a precise “digital twin” of each user’s own unique residuum (residual limb). This allows for virtual design and easier refitting and replacements as improved prostheses become available.

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Make MeBionic “If a salamander can regenerate its limbs, why can’t a human? The fact is that humans do regenerate. We’re regenerating all the time. The question therefore is how can you induce further regeneration?” —Anthony Atala, MD, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine



Nearly a century ago, one of the world’s first pacemakers revived a stillborn baby in Sydney, Australia. Today, about 40,000 people worldwide have had DBS devices surgically implanted in their brains to control tremors from Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. Surgeons have implanted hundreds more responsive neurostimulation (RNS) devices in patients with drug-resistant epileptic seizures. Both devices work like heart pacemakers to monitor and sense tremors or seizures as they begin and then activate to stop or mitigate them. More than 100,000 people in the US have restored or improved hearing thanks to cochlear nerve implants. Other brain prosthetics are on the way: Surgically implanted devices that access the optic nerve to restore basic levels of sight in the same way cochlear implants have restored hearing. Implants in the motor cortex allow paralyzed patients to operate prosthetic limbs, use computer interfaces and control machines using only their thoughts. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a brain-computer interface system that will enable a military pilot with an implant to operate multiple aircraft simultaneously via thought. In the next 15 years pilots may be able to control drones and fighter jets with noninvasive or superficially embedded devices that connect with genetically modified brain cells via infrared light signals; no surgery required—DARPA plans to modify the brain cells using nasally inhaled nanomolecular gene therapeutics.




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ogy is another emerging approach to accessing brain activity without major surgery. Vascular neurosurgeons at the University at Buffalo in partnership with the Jacobs Institute can now insert stent-mounted electrode arrays made by neurotech startup Synchron through blood vessels rather than opening the cranium. The surgeons guide the devices into specific locations, allowing signals from the brain to operate mobile devices and computers.

BIOENGINEERING— A (RE)GROWING TREND The NIH has estimated that over 100 million Americans could benefit from regenerative therapies that use bioengineered cells to repair damaged tissue after a heart attack, cancer surgery or a car crash. Programmed stem cells have regenerated muscle in mice. The first human trials are underway in China, the UK and the US to test stem-cell generated heart patches. Dr. Anthony Atala at Wake Forest has successfully implanted lab-grown organs like esophagi and bladders into human patients. A team at Tufts University led by biologist Michael Levin and funded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s Frontiers Group is using guided application of electrical fields to help regrow body parts. Levin’s group recently used instructions formulated in what the group calls “the morphogenic code” to turn frog stem cells into self-organizing teams of programmable “Xenobots” that can develop specialized cell structures to move around and record information about their own movements—a major step toward regrowing human limbs and organs.

People, globally, with deep brain stimulation implants for tremor control




The most advanced prosthetic limbs can cost upwards of $70,000. BrainRobotics’ myoelectric hand, along with next-gen artificial legs being developed at MIT Media Lab and the Bionic Leg from the University of Utah’s Bionic Engineering Lab, will all become commercially available within the next five to ten years, but are likely to be very expensive. A recent analysis by the RAND Corporation shows why investing in prosthetic technology is worth it. RAND compared health outcomes for people with abovethe-knee limb loss using microprocessorcontrolled prosthetic knees to outcomes for those using analog prosthetic knees. While wearers of microprocessorenhanced knees spent roughly $15,000 a year in prosthetic-related costs— $1,700 more than analog knee users— they saved $4,600 annually in direct and indirect healthcare costs (thanks to fewer injuries and lower caregiving costs) compared to analog-knee wearers—a $2,900 gain. Perhaps most importantly, while wearers of microprocessor-equipped prosthetic knees in the study lived about one month longer than their analog counterparts, RAND determined that they gained almost 11 months of “quality-of-life-adjusted” time per person over the 10-year study. That’s 11 extra months to engage in productive, rewarding activities—aka healthspan—a boon both to those with limb loss and to society.

Americans who could benefit from regenerative, bioengineered-cell therapies

To learn more about the Future of Health report or to download a copy of the publication, visit medicine.buffalo.edu/future-of-health


Genium X3 $100K Prosthetics for All Mobile Clinic ~$0 e-NABLE $7 Rise Bionics $300 TrueLimb $8K Open Bionics $10K Myoelectric Hand $70K







Gained by prosthetic users to engage in more demanding, active pursuits



THOUSAND Saved annually by microprocessorcontrolled knee users vs. analog prosthetic knee users

“Cartilage doesn’t have a blood supply, so it’s hard to regenerate. With what we call biologics, we’re trying to grow things before you need them. We will likely be able to regrow a knee in the next 15 years. We can do so in a petri dish, so if we can build the right scaffold to transplant it with robotic assistance, we can make it happen.”


While most high-end bionic limbs are still priced like high-end automobiles, 3D printing is changing the prosthetics market rapidly. Open Bionics’s customizable 3D-printed Hero Arms (including a Black Panther: Wakanda Forever model) start around $10,000 and are covered by Medicare. Unlimited Tomorrow’s 3D-printed TrueLimb, mentioned at left, costs less than $8,000 with capabilities that only a few years ago would have carried a price tag above $50,000. The future looks even brighter for affordability and access to prosthetic technology. Bioengineer Hugh Herr—a double amputee and cohead of MIT’s Yang Center for Bionics—and his former student David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s chief technology officer, lead Prosthetics for All—a mobile clinic providing affordable or even free 3D-printed prosthetics to Sierra Leoneans who have lost limbs. In India, Rise Bionics makes $300 legs whose wearers have outperformed competitors using $100,000 prosthetics in paralympic competition. The e-NABLE network—comprising thousands of volunteers in more than 100 countries— collaborates to produce free or low-cost 3D-printed prosthetics for anyone in need. While millions of us have opted to replace worn-out knees and hips with artificial joints, Herr predicts that as limbs age and become compromised, people will move beyond joints to replace entire flesh-and-blood limbs with durable prosthetic versions connected to our brains by seamless, AI-augmented neural interfaces.

—Dr. Martin Roche, orthopedic knee surgeon, Holy Cross Orthopedic Institute

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Murphy Family Gift to Address Health Inequities, Mental Health Disparities in Urban Buffalo By Melissa Meyer


will continue its commitment to addressing adverse social determinants of health in the community through its cutting-edge Community Health Equity Research Institute, thanks to support from the Murphy family. Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine and senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and his wife, Vicki, recently provided a generous $500,000 donation to fund pilot studies in the Community Health Equity Research Institute and scholarship opportunities in mental health nursing in UB’s School of Nursing, of which Vicki is a graduate. The mission of the Community Health Equity Research Institute is to investigate the root causes of health disparities, and develop and test innovative solutions Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY to eliminate regional Distinguished Professor and director health inequities. Led by of the Community Health Equity Murphy, the institute has Research Institute worked with community organizations and leaders, policymakers, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and more to find solutions that will lead to systemic changes. For example, in response to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black communities, the institute worked with community partners to bring visiting nurses to administer COVID-19 tests in the community, set up call centers at churches, and distribute personal protective equipment and emergency food for food-insecure individuals and families. With this coordinated plan, the community was able to mitigate the disproportionate impact of COVID fatalities in African American communities from 67% to 45%.

“An important goal of our institute is to develop innovative solutions to reduce health disparities and test those interventions to determine which ones work.”


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Scholarships for Nurse Practitioner Students The Murphys’ gift includes scholarships in the School of Nursing for nurse practitioner students who are focusing their careers on mental health. Vicki Murphy, a UB School of Nursing alumna who was named a 2023 Distinguished Preceptor for the school, is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who has been working with children and adolescents with mental health needs for nearly three decades. She has experienced firsthand the enormous lack of adequate mental health support for families and children in the area. “Our region has a serious shortage of mental health care for children,” she says. “Nurse practitioners play an especially important role in working with children and families with mental health needs. The underserved communities in Buffalo are disproportionately impacted by this shortage.” Scholarships will be awarded to nurse practitioner students focused on mental health with the stipulation that they work in Buffalo communities in need. This commitment strengthens the goal of improving health outcomes in urban communities. “Limited access to mental health services disproportionately and adversely affects vulnerable and underserved populations,” says Annette Wysocki, PhD, dean of the School of Nursing. “Delayed and inadequate treatment can result in increased severity of mental health conditions, impaired daily functioning, higher risk of co-occurring mental health conditions and increased health care costs. Nurse practitioners with a psychiatric/mental health specialization play a vital role in increasing access to mental health services and improving the outcomes of these individuals.”

Ending Adverse Social Determinants of Health Timothy Murphy notes that life expectancy for a Black person living in Buffalo is 10 to 12 years shorter than that of a white resident. The prevalence of common diseases such as stroke, diabetes, hypertension and cancer is dramatically higher in Black communities compared to the general population. Health outcomes in Erie County put residents in the bottom quarter of New York State in 2022; removing the five predominantly African American zip codes from that data places Erie County among the healthiest counties in the state. Murphy stresses the importance of working in partnership with community members in addressing health disparities. “True partnership requires bidirectional relationships built on trust, mutual respect and cultural humility,” he says. “It is important for universities and academic health centers to move from viewing communities as people who have needs, to recognizing them as

assets who can show researchers how to better address social determinants of health and increase the impact of research discoveries.” He also notes that health disparities cannot be solved by addressing access to health care alone. “If we could solve all the health care problems on the East Side of Buffalo tomorrow, that would improve health outcomes by about 15%. The other 85% is caused by poverty, educational opportunity, access to healthy food, disinvested neighborhoods, lead paint in homes and other social determinants of health,” Murphy explains. “An important goal of our institute is to develop innovative solutions to reduce health disparities and test those interventions to determine which ones work,” he says. “The intent of offering pilot studies is to support research that will generate larger grants and projects that will lead to fundamental, systemic changes that will be required to eliminate race-based health inequities.” Eliminating adverse social determinants of health will require engaging researchers across many disciplines. For this reason, the

Community Health Equity Research Institute works with faculty from all 12 UB schools. The new funds committed by the Murphys are also intended to attract more UB faculty to conduct health disparities research. The institute assists faculty and students in partnering with the community to solve problems. “We are grateful to Dr. Murphy and his wife, Vicki, for their generous donation to the university and their steadfast support of our community” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “The Murphys’ endowment will help us create new ideas and research; develop strategic, resilient solutions; and make significant strides in the battle against health inequities and pediatric mental health disparity in our region.” The Murphys’ gift supports Boldly Buffalo, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign that aims to raise $1 billion to elevate student success, empower faculty research and drive lasting change in the Western New York community and around the world.

A generous gift from Timothy and Vicki Murphy will support pilot studies at the Community Health Equity Research Institute, as well as provide scholarships to nurse practitioner students focused on mental health.

FALL 2023




IN MEMORIAM ELLIOTT CHARLES LASSER, MD ’46 Conducted pioneering studies of the mechanisms for allergic reactions to radiologic contrast Elliott Charles Lasser, MD ’46, a radiologist who conducted pioneering work to elucidate the basis of allergic reactions to contrast media, died at his La Jolla, California, home on March 4, a few months after marking his 100th birthday. A Buffalo native, he earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, with a double major in economics and premedical studies. In 1946, he completed his medical school Lasser training at the University at Buffalo in an accelerated three-year wartime program sponsored by the U.S. Navy. After completing his rotating internship at Buffalo General Hospital, he served for two years on active duty at Camp Lejeune, where he developed his interest in radiology. He then did his residency in radiology at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He returned to Buffalo to serve as chief of diagnostic radiology at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute and as an attending physician at the Buffalo Veterans Administration Hospital from 1953-56. During that time, he also completed a sabbatical in neuroradiology at Serafimer Hospital in Stockholm, where he trained in the use of injectable contrast media. Recognizing

that the medical literature barely made mention of the topic, he established his vision for an academic career focused on investigating the use of contrast materials, particularly on the nature of adverse reactions to iodinated contrast media. In 1956—three years after completing his residency—he was recruited to chair the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1968, he was recruited as founding chair of radiology at the new School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He stepped down in 1977 to focus on his research and teaching, and from 1979-80 he served UCSD as its acting vice chancellor for health sciences. Formally retiring in 1991, he continued his research and mentoring as an emeritus member of the faculty. Lasser published more than 150 papers in the peer-reviewed literature, in addition to books, book chapters, abstracts and editorials. He was invited to deliver several named lectures and served as president of the Association of University Radiologists in 1972. In 1970, he established a symposium devoted to contrast media research, bringing academic faculty and scientists together with industry representatives from around the world to share new discoveries; the meeting continues on a biannual basis. Over his career, he recruited and mentored scores of faculty, fellows and residents. He received multiple honors and awards, including the UB Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996. He was predeceased by his wife of 72 years, Phyllis Adler Lasser, his son Andrew Lasser, his sister Judith Lasser Goldring, and his brother Sherwood Lasser. He is survived by his daughter, Robin Lasser of Oakland, California, and his sons Ken Lasser, MD, of San Diego and Ted Lasser of Arvada, Colorado.

MARGARET A. ACARA, PHD ’71 Co-founder of UB’s Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender Margaret “Peggy” Acara, PhD ’71, a research scientist and professor known as a champion of gender equality, died on May 9. She was 89. Acara graduated from what is now D’Youville University with a degree in chemistry and worked for more than a decade in Buffalo as a research assistant and medical technician. She then enrolled at the University at Buffalo, where she earned a doctorate in pharmacology. After two years of postdoctoral study at UB, she joined the faculty of the schools of medicine and dentistry as an assistant professor of pharmacology and therapeutics. She was promoted to associate professor in 1982


FALL 2023


and full professor in 1990. She retired in 2001. Acara completed extensive research during her career, predominantly focusing on renal drug metabolism. She was also a major proponent of gender equality, facilitating progress for women in higher education and the sciences. In 1997, she co-founded with Isabel Marcus UB’s Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender, now known as the UB Gender Institute. During her time as co-director, she pushed for five research concentrations: data and resources on gender and violence; women’s health; the impact of changing welfare laws; education on women and gender in schools; and feminist topics in the humanities. Survivors include a son; three daughters; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

NELSON P. TORRE, MD, BS ’56 A member of UB’s clinical faculty for 40 years; former chief of medicine at Sisters Hospital Nelson P. Torre, MD, a rheumatologist and chief of medicine at Sisters Hospital who served on the UB medical faculty for 40 years, died April 22 in Williamsville. He was 88. A Buffalo native, who graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, he studied pharmacy at the University at Buffalo and received a bachelor’s degree in 1956. He took his first year of medical studies in Padua, Italy, then returned to enroll at Dr. Nelson Torre, and his wife, Joyce SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, where he worked evenings at a hotel pharmacy to support his family before graduating in 1961. He served as an intern at E. J. Meyer Memorial Hospital, now Erie County Medical Center, and had a special internship at what was then Buffalo General Hospital. Drafted into the Army in 1967, he served as a captain before returning to Buffalo to run a private practice in internal medicine and rheumatology.

Affiliated with Sisters Hospital, Torre was medical staff president in 1987 and was chief of medicine and director of the UB residency program in internal medicine at the hospital from 1989 to 1998. He joined the clinical faculty at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB in 1968 and was a clinical professor of medicine beginning in 1986. He became a professor emeritus in 2007. He was also instrumental in the creation of the physician assistant program at what was then Daemen College, serving as the program’s medical director from 1994 to 2007. In 1998, he was named an American Medical Association representative to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, which evaluates college and university health education programs nationwide. A past president of the Buffalo Academy of Medicine, Torre was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a founding fellow of the American College of Rheumatology. He also chaired the medical and scientific committee for the Western New York chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. He established scholarship endowments at the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Daemen University and St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. In addition to his wife of 65 years, Joyce Barrett Torre, survivors include two daughters, Christine Torre and Pamela Torre; two sons, Nelson S. and Douglas; and 11 grandchildren.


May 31 & June 1, 2024

Alumni Reunion Weekend and Harrington Lecture • Welcome Cocktail Reception • Distinguished Alumnus Awards • Exclusive class dinners for reunion classes ending in 4’s and 9’s

Honor an individual who has outstanding achievements as a physician or a biomedical scientist, has shown personal leadership and provides exemplary services to their community! Nominate a Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna today! https://medicine.buffalo.edu/alumni/ reunionschedule/Reunion.html

FALL 2023




Interview with Thaddeus Waters, MD In November 2022, Thaddeus P. Waters, MD, was installed as the inaugural Amol S. Lele, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Waters, who previously served as director of maternal-fetal medicine, director of labor and delivery and co-director of the Perinatal Center at Rush University in Chicago, also serves as the medical director for maternal-fetal medicine and the regional perinatal program at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Q: What attracted you to this position?

A: Opportunities to make meaningful

contributions to women’s health services, particularly for high-risk pregnant patients, are of high interest to me. When my wife and I—we both perform highrisk pregnancy care (Maternal-Fetal Medicine)—came and looked [at the Jacobs School], it was clear there was an amazing opportunity to contribute to the patients of Western New York. There are disparities for pregnant patients in our region both locally and regionally and the opportunity to contribute to improving the care for the region really spoke to us.

Q: Have there been any changes or additions to the division?

A: We’ve hired one person, Dr. David

Wang, who starts in the fall. The goal is to develop a robust regional high-risk pregnancy service. To accomplish that, we will need to recruit additional providers, but also create bridges between the different regional stakeholders to make us one truly integrated team. We are already making great progress with that by linking the strengths of the university, the health system and the regional perinatal center to synergize our efforts on behalf of the community.

“When my wife and I... came and looked [at the Jacobs School], it was clear there was an amazing opportunity to contribute to the patients of Western New York.”

Q: You talked about health inequities in your endowment speech—rural vs. urban, and also addressing the needs of people of color. What can be done to bridge some of those gaps?

A: A great place to start is by simply

acknowledging that disparities are present, often in multiple settings and can compound upon each other and negatively affect health care outcomes. By being vigilant and observant for the disparities that affect our different communities, we can then work on strategies to address gaps and hopefully identify solutions. We are currently embarking on one such idea through a federally funded PCORI study for post-partum patients in partnership with our local community. Furthermore, we should avoid looking at all of our communities in WNY through the same lens. As an example, the challenge of addressing health inequities among people of color are very different from the ones of, say, a patient in a more rural health care community often hours from a hospital with limited resources. For our region, we will need different solutions for different situations to address gaps in pregnancy health care. - Bill Bruton

Thaddeus P. Waters, MD, flanked by UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Jacobs School Dean Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, at his installation ceremony in November 2022.


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In aftermath of deadly blizzard, stories of heroic efforts abound The Christmas Blizzard of December 2022 will go down as one of the worst storms in Buffalo’s history. The combination of relentless snowfall over three days with winds reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour created uniquely challenging circumstances, even for a region renowned for its ability to handle fierce winter weather. Snowdrifts piled as high as 15 feet. Travel, of any kind, snarled to a halt. Countless citizens were stranded, unable to rendezvous with their loved ones for the holidays. And those were the lucky ones. Thirty-one people died in the storm, a disproportionate number of whom were Black or elderly. As tragic as the storm was, there emerged in the aftermath heartwarming stories of selflessness, courage and tireless dedication to others. What follows is a selected group of those stories, shining a light on the character and integrity of members of the Jacobs School community and why Buffalo is known as the “City of Good Neighbors.”

Residents Answer Call for Help to Deliver Newborn Mumina Musse went into labor with her first child Christmas Eve morning in her home on the city’s west side. Her sister-inlaw called 911 multiple times, but emergency services throughout the city were slowed, if not shut down completely. She then called Myron Glick, MD ’93, founder and CEO of Jericho Road Community Health Center, who quickly assessed the situation and dispatched a call for assistance from doctors who live in the neighborhood. Among those who responded were the husband and wife team of family medicine residents, Anthony Burdo, MD, and Tatum Burdo, MD. The couple trudged through deep snow to reach Musse, then back and forth to the Jericho Road clinic to gather supplies. At 1:36 p.m. on Christmas Day, after nearly 30 hours of labor, Musse delivered a healthy baby girl, just minutes before the National Guard arrived to transport her to John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Family medicine residents Anthony Burdo, MD, and Tatum Burdo, MD, with the healthy baby girl they helped a stranded mother deliver on Christmas Day.

Keeping Watch on the Jacobs School

Emergency Medicine Doctor Enlists Aid from Wife to Help Others Alexander Ljungberg, DO, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, was on his way home and checked on an ambulance that was stuck in a snow drift. The EMS crew indicated they Ljungberg were OK, but alerted Ljungberg that there was a woman in labor in a vehicle not far from his house. He stopped at home, picked up his wife who is a neonatologist, and they went to help the patient. Knowing that an ambulance would not likely be able to respond, he put the patient in his own truck and transported her to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. Over the next few days, he helped transport patients and staff, all while working in the emergency department and helping on “Blizzard Command” leadership calls with UBMD Emergency Medicine.

EMT Works 48-hour Shift for Mercy Flight Adouk

John Adouk, a Jacobs School security guard, tirelessly manned the Jacobs School building for five days during the storm, keeping watch on the facility and the dozen or so people who hunkered down to wait out the storm. He remained on site from the start of the storm on Friday, Dec. 23, until the following Tuesday, shoveling out the building’s entrances and securing food and water for people. He also opened the doors to those who needed shelter, welcoming in an unhoused individual, loaning him dry clothes from the Lost & Found, and then personally walking him to Buffalo General Medical Center for further assistance.

Olivia Masecchia, a fall 2023 incoming medical student, was then an advanced EMT for Mercy Flight of Buffalo. She worked a 48-hour shift alongside her coworkers, driving in near-zero visibility conditions and providing emergency aid to those affected by the snowstorm and other medical emergencies. In one instance, she provided care and monitoring during a transfer trip for a developmentally disabled pediatric patient requiring higher level-of-care services following a femur fracture. She and her partner, on the way to calls, also looked out for cars spun out on roadways, assessed the occupants’ wellbeing and reported back to dispatch.

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BOLD MEANS ADVANCING RESEARCH. Kinga Szigeti, MD, PhD, shown examining a patient, leads research in neurological disorders. She is director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at UB.

At UB, we’ve proven we can do anything when we come together. Our students have boundless ambition. Our faculty have unstoppable drive. And we’re fueling the future with discovery and innovation. The Boldly Buffalo campaign is on course to raise $1 billion. Learn more at buffalo.edu/campaign.

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