SUMMER 2017 CONNECTING ALUMNI, FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY JACOBS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO
SCHOLARSHIPS KEY TO OUR SCHOOLâ€™S FUTURE
THE EXCITEMENT IS BUILDING The new home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is expected to be completed this fall, marking the end of nearly four years of construction on the eight-story, $375 million building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Faculty and staff will begin moving in November, with a grand opening for the building planned for early 2018. The 628,000-square-foot complex at Main and Allen streets will have 178 percent more educational space than is available at the schoolâ€™s current location on UBâ€™s South Campus.
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
UB MEDICINE MAGAZINE, Summer 2017, Vol. 5, No. 2
Michael E. Cain, MD Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Eric C. Alcott Senior Associate Dean, Executive Director Medical Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
3 VITAL LINES Progress notes
26 DOCTOR VISITS
Editorial Director Christine Fontaneda Assistant Dean, Senior Director Medical Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
Editor Stephanie A. Unger
Reflections on careers
Contributing Writers Colleen Karuza, Mark Sommer, Lori Ferguson, John DellaContrada Mary Cochrane, Ellen Goldbaum
People in the news
Copyeditor Tom Putnam Photography Douglas Levere, Sandra Kicman
32 Q & A
Art Direction & Design Karen Lichner
Conversations with experts Photo by Nancy J. Parisi
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 IMAGE: From left: Medical Alumni Association Scholar Sean Mendez, Class of 2018; Llyod Levy Scholar Matilda Fatunmbi, Class of 2019; WNY Medical Scholarship Fund Scholar, Gina Sparacino, Class of 2018. Photo by Douglas Levere
Editorial Advisers John J. Bodkin II, MD ’76 Elizabeth A. Repasky, PhD ’81
Sara Zagroba, Class of 2018 (Class of 1958 Scholar), left; and Danielle Smith, Class of 2019 (Sung Scholar), right; with Dean Michael E. Cain, MD, at a recent scholarship event.
8 Scholarships and Their Impact on Students
Read firsthand accounts of how careers in medicine have been positively impacted by scholarships from generous donors.
16 A CONVERSATION WITH DEAN CAIN
Michael E. Cain, MD, now in his 11th year as dean, talks about the historic move downtown and his goals for the school.
20 SUCH OPPORTUNITIES ARE RARE
Lawrence Wrabetz, MD, and M. Laura Feltri, MD, world leaders in myelin research, have found a unique opportunity in Buffalo.
24 THE ONLY JOB I WANTED TO DO
James Pattarini, MD ’10, MPH, is living his dream as a NASA flight surgeon at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Erie County Medical Center Roswell Park Cancer Institute Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System Kaleida Health Buffalo General Medical Center Gates Vascular Institute Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital 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, 901 Kimball Tower, Buffalo, NY 14214; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
U B M E D V I TA L L I N E S
GRADUATION DAY 2017
Photos by Sandra Kicman
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences held its 171st commencement on April 28 in the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus. During the ceremony, 130 students received their medical degrees. Thirteen of these students earned dual degrees: three MD/PhD degrees, eight MD/MBA degrees and two MD/oral and maxillofacial surgery degrees. Steven A. Wartman, MD, PhD, was the honored speaker. Wartman is president of the Association of Academic Health Centers, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes the mission of academic health centers.
Arielle Bokhour, left, who is training in medicine (preliminary) and neurology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Tanya Orellana, who is training in medicine (preliminary) at UB.
David Holmes, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and director of Global Health Education, hooding Matthew Chen, who is training in surgery at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.
During this year’s commencement ceremony, Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology, received the UB President’s Medal, which recognizes extraordinary service to the university. Dubocovich is considered a leading authority on melatonin and the regulation of the hormone’s receptors in the brain and body. She is credited with discovering melatonin receptor subtypes that have revolutionized the field, and her research has significantly broadened the scientific understanding of melatonin and its effect on circadian rhythms, sleep disorders and depression. Dubocovich has served as the primary thesis adviser for multiple students and has mentored dozens of postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students, master’s students and combined BS/MS students. As senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, she leads efforts to build a culturally and intellectually diverse and inclusive academic community within the medical school. For a related article, turn to page 32.
Photo by Sandra Kicman
DUBOCOVICH HONORED WITH PRESIDENT’S MEDAL
Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, right; with Rajendram Rajnarayanan PhD, left; and Anthony Jones, PhD, candidate in neuroscience, center.
U B M E D V I TA L L I N E S
FACULTY RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS Congratulations to the following Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ faculty who were honored through the SUNY Distinguished program, and the UB Distinguished and the UB Exceptional Scholars program in 2016 and 2017: Anne B. Curtis, MD, Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, named a SUNY Distinguished Professor. This spring, Curtis also was awarded mastership in the American College of Curtis Physicians. One of the highest honors that can be granted to internal medicine practitioners, mastership recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments. M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of biochemistry and neurology, Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, recipient of a UB Exceptional Scholars Award for sustained achievement (see related article on page 20).
Reid R. Heffner Jr., MD, professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
Jeffrey M. Lackner, PsyD, professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for excellence in scholarship and creative activities. Tomaszewski
Mark J. Lema, MD, PhD ’78, professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, named a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor.
Brahm H. Segal, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, recipient of a UB Exceptional Scholars Award for sustained achievement. John E. Tomaszewski, MD, professor and chair in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, named a SUNY Distinguished Professor. Anthony Campagnari, PhD ’84, professor of microbiology, immunology and medicine, recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for excellence in scholarship and creative activities.
HOPKINS RECEIVES WALTER P. COOKE AWARD
L. Nelson Hopkins III, MD, a medical pioneer who redefined the field of vascular neurosurgery in the management of stroke and stenting of vascular lesions, received the Walter P. Cooke Award from the UB Alumni Association at its annual awards ceremony this spring. The award is given to non-alumni in recognition of notable and meritorious contributions influencing the growth and
improvement of the university. A SUNY Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery and former chair of the UB Department of Neurosurgery, Hopkins graduated from Albany Medical College in 1969 and then returned to Western New York to practice and to teach at UB. A resident of Buffalo, Hopkins is a founder of the Gates Vascular Institute at Kaleida Health, the Jacobs Institute and the Toshiba Stroke and Vascular Research Center.
Photo by Douglas Levere
Daniel Alexander, MD ’99, and wife, Gail, have given $1 million to scholarships.
A Gift Made in Gratitude
BY MARY COCHRANE
It happened during a 911 call regarding an injured homeless man. Daniel Alexander, then a member of the Buffalo Fire Department and an emergency medical technician, responded to the call. “The man said he used to be a professor, but developed schizophrenia and found himself on the street,” Daniel says. “He had hurt his wrist and was in poor condition. I talked to him for a short time about his life.’” Then, as the ambulance was about to leave to take the man to a hospital, “he grabbed me by the collar and said, ‘You, sir, should be a doctor!’” “That lit a fire in me to go back to school and become a doctor,” Daniel says. The man’s words posed yet another challenge in a lifetime of challenges for Daniel Alexander, who as a child lived with his parents and seven siblings in a two-bedroom, 600-square-foot house in Buffalo. “We were poor, but I grew up with a lot of love,” Daniel recalls. “My mother didn’t give us material possessions, but she taught us the value of education.” After graduating from Hutchinson-Central Technical High School, Daniel enrolled at UB as an English major. In his junior year, at age 20, he left UB to become a Buffalo firefighter, the youngest in the city’s history. After working for seven years as a firefighter—and his encounter with the homeless man—Daniel realized it was time to follow his heart and become a doctor, so he enrolled in night classes at UB and completed his English degree and science prerequisites for medical school.
During this time, he met his wife, Gail, who grew up on Grand Island and was earning a degree in finance and marketing. The couple married in 1989 and began a family. Each worked: Gail as an accountant, and Daniel as a firefighter. Once Daniel completed his science prerequisites, he applied to UB medical school and was accepted. “He decided to pursue his dream,” Gail says. “We decided I would continue to work as an accountant to support the family. We would be frugal and take out loans to cover the gap. We learned to appreciate what we had.” After Daniel graduated from medical school, the Alexander family— now with three children, soon to be four—moved to Detroit, where Daniel began a five-year orthopedic surgical residency at Henry Ford Hospital. After Daniel completed his residency, the family moved to Canandaigua, N.Y., where Daniel began work as a surgeon and a year later established the Finger Lakes Bone and Joint Center. He was joined in the endeavor by Gail, who brought years of accounting and management experience to the practice. In 2016, the couple pledged $1 million to establish the Daniel and Gail Alexander Scholarship Endowment fund in support of medical students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, particularly graduates of Buffalo public schools. Daniel said they made the gift in gratitude for UB medical school’s “life-changing” decision to enroll him. “Our hope is that our scholarship will support inner-city kids in Buffalo—such as those from my alma mater, Hutch Tech—who want to become caring, compassionate physicians,” he says.
U B M E D V I TA L L I N E S
MATCH DAY 2017 CELEBRATED
Photos by Sandra Kicman
Medical students in the Class of 2017 celebrated the next steps in their medical careers during Match Day, held on March 17 at the Statler City Golden Ballroom in downtown Buffalo. To learn where members of the Class of 2017 will train, visit medicine.buffalo.edu and search “Match Day 2017.”
Celebrating Match Day, left to right, are Crystal Han, Kai Zhong, Jay Amin, Christopher Wang, Jin Guo and Jacienta Paily.
Sam Racette, left, with Terry McLaughlin and Anna-Claire Marrone, who matched as a couple.
MEDICAL STUDENTS SELECTED TO NIH RESEARCH SCHOLARS PROGRAM Medical students Alison Treichel and Priya Patel are headed to the research related to dermatoimmunology or cutaneous oncology. National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Md., to Patel, a native of Newburgh, N.Y., was a dual major in cognitive participate in a yearlong residential program that trains the next science and biology with a minor in South Asia Studies at the generation of clinician-scientists and biomedical researchers. University of Pennsylvania. Her goal is to work at an academic Treichel and Patel are members of the hospital and research center where she can 2017-18 class of the Medical Research practice medicine while playing an active role Scholars Program (MRSP), which serves as in translational research and clinical trials. a fellowship between the third and fourth MRSP scholars select a program mentor year of medical school and places students and create a career-development plan in NIH laboratories and patient care areas under the guidance of an assigned adviser. to conduct basic, translational or clinical Mentors are full-time NIH investigators with research in areas that match their interests established research programs. In addition and research goals. to a rigorous research agenda, scholars Treichel, a native of Saratoga Springs, experience the full spectrum of medical N.Y., earned a bachelor of science degree research by attending lectures, seminars, in biology from the State University of clinical teaching rounds and other courses. New York at Geneseo. Her goal is to be a To learn more, visit medicine.buffalo.edu dermatologist with an academic focus in and search “NIH Research Scholars.” Alison Treichel, left, and Priya Patel
SPRING CLINICAL DAY AND REUNION WEEKEND Alumni came from around the country this spring to celebrate with classmates, friends, faculty and students. More than 400 people joined in the festivities, which included an alumni cocktail party, dinners, tours of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Spring Clinical Day, Medical Residents’ Scholarly Exchange, and presentation of the Distinguished Alumnus and Volunteer Awards (see related story on page 28). The weekend was sponsored by the UB Medical Alumni Association and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Left to right: Rocco Venuto, MD ’67, J. Brian Sheedy, MD ’67, Evan Calkins, MD, David Dantzker, MD ’67.
Seated, left to right: Dennis Ogiela, MD ’77, and Ira Salom, MD ’77. Standing, left to right: Gilbert Bush, MD ’77, Rodney Parker, MD ’77, Eugene Paul, MD ’77, Don Liu, MD ’77, and Jann Caison-Sorey, MD ’77, MBA.
Left to right: Lisa Fodero, Jesse Fodero III, MD ’17, Joseph Modica, MD ’17, Alexandra Nostrant, Jesse Fodero II, Kristen Fodero, PHRMD ’14.
Photos by Joe Cascio
Distinguished Biomedical Alumnus Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD ’84, standing, third from the left, joined by his family at the awards dinner. Seated, left to right: Michael McCann, brother-in-law; Carolyn McCann, sister; and Donna Crawford, wife. Standing, left to right: Julie Ann Ziegler, sister; Nicholas Ziegler, nephew; Campagnari and Adam Ziegler, nephew. (For related coverage, turn to page 28.)
Photo by Sandra Kicman
Pictured with Thomas J. Guttso Sr., MD ’60, center, are members of the Class of 2018, from left: Daniel Schneider, Rebeccah Stevens, Sara Goff, Julian Buchinger, Sean Mendez and Nicholas Seara. Goff is a Guttso Scholar; the others are Medical Alumni Association Scholars.
Incredible to Have Someone Believe in Me SCHOLARSHIPS AND THE LIFELONG IMPACT THEY HAVE ON STUDENTS The class of students entering the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences this fall will be the first to complete all four years in the school’s new state-of-the art building in downtown Buffalo. The Class of 2021 will also make school history as the first to include 180 students, up from the current 144. Over the last decade, the plan to increase class size has been as carefully designed as the new medical school building itself. In order to accommodate the educational needs of a larger number of students, Dean Michael E. Cain, MD, has led efforts to increase the number of full-time faculty to 860 by 2020, up from 715 five years ago. This includes recruitment of more than 25 new chairs and high-level physician-scientists. This growth in the number of students and faculty supports the school’s goal to train and retain more doctors in order to help offset physician shortages in our region—a goal that is crucial to improving and sustaining Western New York’s health care community.
The success of this long-term strategy is not assured, however, unless another key component is added to the equation: scholarship assistance for UB medical students, who, on average, incur $156,000 in debt in medical school, in addition other education debt. Debt of this magnitude discourages many talented students— including traditionally underrepresented students—from pursuing a medical degree. It also influences medical students’ choices about what field of medicine to pursue upon graduation and where to practice. As a result, many poor and rural populations in our country are chronically underserved, and physician shortages in the primary care fields are exacerbated. Scholarships are crucial to fulfilling the promise of bricks-andmortar initiatives undertaken over the last decade by the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. These initiatives, while truly transformational, serve as a foundation for attracting and retaining the highest quality medical students and future physicians to our region. Throughout the 171-year history of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, its alumni and friends in the community have stepped up to provide much-needed scholarship support for
students at crucial junctures, such as now. In this issue of UB Medicine, we thought it would be timely to profile a representative handful of past students whose lives have been profoundly impacted by the generosity of scholarship donors. While we could fill each issue with similar stories, we hope these few examples will help our readers to understand that a scholarship given today can and will make a lasting difference in the lives of physicians and the patients they encounter over the course of their careers. In future issues of UB Medicine, we will provide more details about new initiatives that will build around scholarship gifts. Should you wish to begin a conversation about this now, we encourage you to call the Office of Medical Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at (716) 829-2773, or email email@example.com. As one of our past scholars recalls: “Having complete strangers help me through medical school was amazing and wonderful. It felt warm and nurturing, and their pride in my accomplishments has been very special. It was incredible to have someone believe in me that way.” S .A.U n g e r , e d i t o r S t o r i e s b y L o r i F e r g us o n
Photo by Nancy J. Parisi
S U N G S M A K E A S E C O N D $1 M I L L I O N G I F T TO S C H O L A R S H I P CA M PA I G N As UB Medicine was going to press, it was announced that John J. Sung and his wife, Janet H. Sung, MD, have made a lead gift of $1 million to the scholarship campaign for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The Sungs, who have dedicated their careers to improving health care in Western New York, are the former owners of Windsong Radiology Group, P.C., which they founded in 1987. Their gift builds on another $1 million scholarship gift the couple made in 1999. Today, the Sung Scholarship is renowned for having supported more than 30 UB medical school students. Beginning this fall, the school’s class size will increase 25 percent. In response, an initiative has been launched to increase scholarship support by a concomitant amount. The goal is to raise an endowment of $10 million, which on average would make available $400,000 annually, allowing the school to award 40 students $10,000 scholarships each year. “The extraordinary generosity of the Sungs in support of scholarships will have a meaningful and lasting impact on our school and community,” says Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We are very grateful for their remarkable leadership role in our scholarship campaign.” Future issues of UB Medicine will report further on the Sung’s gift and the school’s scholarship campaign.
Janet Sung, MD, and John J. Sung
E I L E E N C R E S P O , M D ’92 CLARA MARCH SCHOLAR, WA LT E R S . B A R N E S M E M O R I A L S C H O L A R , A N D UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITIES SCHOLAR While many medical students struggle to decide on a specialty, Eileen Crespo, MD ’92, says that her decision was easy. “I only ever wanted to do pediatrics,” she recalls. “If you looked at my high school yearbook, you’d see that I said I’d either be a pediatrician or a kindergarten teacher.” EILEEN CRESPO Some 20 years later, it’s clear that Crespo knew herself well. Now a physician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn., Crespo enjoys a thriving practice seeing pediatric patients of all ages, with a special focus on Latino families. “The Latino population has grown in Minnesota and I’m Puerto Rican, so I’m a good fit for many families. Having a doctor who’s familiar with your language and cultural background is reassuring,” she explains. Although Crespo addresses all of the issues common to a pediatric population, she says that a good portion of her time is spent addressing a few areas of particular concern for Latino families: healthy eating, sleep and oral health. “For many parents, there’s a perception that food equals love, and this is especially true in the Latino community,”
she says. “I spend a lot of time educating parents about healthy eating habits and reassuring them that they don’t have to cater to their children’s whims. I also work with them to understand that avoiding juices and sweets helps to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent cavities.” Similarly, Latino parents struggle with setting bedtime routines, Crespo explains. “Many children want to sleep with their parents, and mom and dad are often loath to discourage them. Co-sleeping is very common in Latino culture, and keeping separate spaces for kids can be a foreign concept, but it’s so important. Parents need their sleep, too, and the number of tired parents in Latino culture is exceptional.” As a medical student, Crespo was the recipient of a Walter S. Barnes Memorial Scholarship, a Clara March Scholarship and a Medical School Scholarship for Under-represented Minorities. “The scholarship assistance I received provided an unbelievable opportunity for me to attend medical school. It was no small thing,” she says. “It helped make my dreams come true and set the tone for the rest of my life. I met my husband there—he was my partner in anatomy lab—and I made lifelong friends. It was a fantastic experience and I hope that UB’s scholarship program continues to aid aspiring students in the future.”
David C. Stephens, MD ’67, and Mary P. Stephens Scholarship Fund “Penny and I want to provide scholarship support to UB medical students today and into the future because we want to recognize how important my medical education was, and we want to have a direct, positive impact on medical students today who are incurring such high debt.” David C. Stephens, MD ’67, orthopedic surgeon
CA R L A H E N K E , M D ’08
A D E L A I D E A N D B R E N DA N G R I S WO L D S C H O L A R
As chief medical officer for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Community of Hope, family medicine physician Carla Henke, MD ’08, witnesses the importance of access to health care from both sides of the desk. Two days a week, Henke sees patients in one of the organization’s three health centers, and the other CARLA HENKE three days she works as an administrator. “It’s a good mix. Working in the clinics keeps my professional skills up and helps me understand the challenges that the other providers face, while the administrative work allows me to address clinical quality outcomes and seek ways to promote the community health initiatives that are so important in the neighborhoods we serve.” Henke is particularly interested in improving health literacy within the community, as well as addressing issues of health disparity. “Race, cultural differences, economics—they all contribute to health problems. We’re treating an under-
served population in which health care is often neglected, so I’m concerned with what it means to provide health care to a community, not just to an individual.” Henke says that her view of family medicine was deeply impacted by her time at UB. “Dr. Kim Griswold and Dr. Robert Burke were two incredible mentors for me.” Working with Griswold, UB associate professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and public health and health professions, allowed Henke to experience family medicine practice in a university setting, while working with Dr. Burke exposed her to practice in a rural environment. “I had two very different experiences within the same specialty, which was great. I love the variety in family medicine. You never know what patient will walk through the door.” Henke’s enthusiasm for her specialty during medical school did not go unnoticed. At graduation, she was chosen to receive the Adelaide and Brendan Griswold Scholarship for her dedication to family medicine. “It was such an honor and a great gift to have when starting my residency. It made me feel confident in continuing on my career path in family medicine.”
Western New York Medical Scholarship Fund “Due to a lack of scholarship money, we are losing some of our best and brightest students to other schools at a time when our region is losing more doctors each year than it gains. We established the Western New York Medical Scholarship Fund to keep local medical students here in Western New York after they finish their training to live and practice medicine.” John J. Bodkin II, MD ’76, founder and co-chair
K I R K S C I R TO , M D ’06 DR. THOMAS J. AND BARBARA L. GUTTUSO SCHOLAR N AT I O N A L H E A LT H S E R V I C E C O R P S S C H O L A R S H I P While working toward his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Rochester, Kirk Scirto, MD ’06, couldn’t decide whether he wanted to pursue policy work with underserved populations in developing countries or go to medical school. “Then I realized I KIRK SCIRTO could combine my two passions by working with underserved medical populations,” says the Cambria, N.Y., native. The discovery led Scirto to pursue his MD at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where he was a Dr. Thomas J. and Barbara L. Guttuso Scholar. After graduating, Scirto completed a family medicine residency at Highland Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., and successfully applied for a scholarship from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), an organization that provides financial support to primary care providers in underserved communities. The scholarship paid for two years of medical school and gave
Scirto a stipend for books and rent. In return, he served as a physician for two years (2009-2011) at an approved NHSC site. The financial assistance was invaluable, he says, and the resulting experience one that he cherishes. “I lived in a small fishing village in Puerto Rico and practiced broad spectrum family medicine,” says Scirto. “It was great.” After returning to New York, Scirto joined the team at Buffalo’s Jericho Road Community Health Center to care for patients with limited access to healthcare, particularly refugees, immigrants and those from low-income families. It’s demanding work, he concedes, but incredibly rewarding. “Our patients are very grateful for the care they receive.” In addition to his work at Jericho Road, Scirto serves as a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at UB and is medical co-director for a free clinic he helped found at Vive Shelter for asylum-seekers. He also volunteers abroad five weeks a year. Starting in 2018, Scirto and his wife, Vicky Ip, MD, plan to work in poor countries long-term.
Dr. Thomas J. and Barbara L. Guttuso Scholarship Endowment “Our motives for giving are simple. In my former role as Dean of Admissions for the medical school, I witnessed firsthand the need for scholarship funds to help students financially. We also wanted to give back in gratitude for the education I received. So we decided to start a scholarship endowment that would help students achieve their dream of going to medical school and becoming a physician.” Thomas J. Guttuso Sr., MD ’60
S T E P H A N I E C H OW , M D ’09 J O H N J . A N D JA N E T H . S U N G S C H O L A R
For Stephanie Chow, MD ’09, working with older patients is both enlightening and inspiring. “Older patients possess knowledge about human health and human life that’s not available in any textbook. It can only be gained through experience,” Chow explains. An assistant profesSTEPHANIE CHOW sor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai, Chow says that her approach to health care is, by necessity, much more individualistic. “With older patients, you’re not only looking at health matters, but also quality of life. An older patient wants to know, Will I be able to stand on my own or play with my grandchildren?” Chow traces her interest in geriatrics back to her own grandparents. “I was raised in an Asian-American family and in our culture, respect for the elderly is very important. When you go to a family gathering, the first people you say hello to are your grandparents.” Chow’s reverence for the elderly was
cemented by her first patient as a medical student, a 68-year-old man at the Buffalo V.A. Hospital. “We had a wonderful rapport, and I realized he had a lot of knowledge to share.” Although Chow cherishes many experiences during medical school, she says Dr. Linda Pessar’s psychiatry lectures remain uppermost in her mind. “When talking to my patients, I often think of the techniques she shared. Psychiatry is a lot more important in one’s practice than I realized when I was in training. It has a huge impact in medicine, and as a gerontologist I use what I learned in psychiatry every day.” Chow—a John J. and Janet H. Sung Scholar—also remains grateful for the financial support she received as a medical student. “I was surprised and flattered that my scholarship donors were investing in a student they had never met,” she says. “Having complete strangers help me through medical school was amazing and wonderful. It felt warm and nurturing and their pride in my accomplishments has been very special. It was incredible to have someone believe in me that way.”
Dr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Chazan Medical Scholarship Fund “I grew up in Buffalo and was one of the first in my family to attend college. We did not have the wherewithal for tuition when I was a student, so I had loans. As the years went by and I realized some success in my medical career, I decided it was important to identify students going through similar experiences and to help them. My late wife and I created this scholarship to help students who are residents of the area, who need financial support and who are achieving academic success.” Joseph A. Chazan, MD ’60
S A R I N A M E I K L E , M D ’17 A D E L E M . G OT T S C H A L K S C H O L A R As far back as she can remember, Sarina Meikle, MD ’17, was good at science, especially biology and chemistry. Today, as a physician, she is quick to recognize those who fostered her innate abilities when she was young. “The encouragement of some of SARINA MEIKLE my elementary and middle school teachers is a big part of the reason I’m in medicine today,” says Meikle, who born in Binghamton, N.Y., and raised on Long Island. As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Meikle started out on a PhD track in molecular biology, but gradually realized that basic research was not her calling. “As a bench scientist, you mostly work by yourself and with a few other researchers. I missed the contact with people and realized that medicine was a better fit for me.” After graduating, Meikle worked for a year as a scientist, explored her options for attending medical school and gained acceptance to the postbaccalaureate program at UB.
Sponsored by New York State in partnership with the Associated Medical Schools of New York, the program—one of eight in the state—is designed to expand the pool of underrepresented, economically and educationally disadvantaged students in medical school. For Meikle, it was a chance to “gear up for medical school by taking more human-focused science courses.” Meikle thrived and was admitted to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where she was an Adele M. Gottschalk Scholar. This spring, prior to graduation, she married Bilal Butt, MD, a graduate of SUNY Upstate Medical School, whom she had met in the postbaccalaureate program. The couple matched for residency at the University of Michigan, where Meikle is training in internal medicine and Butt, in orthopedic surgery. Meikle is grateful for the scholarship support she received while in medical school, and says that its impact is more than monetary. “I really appreciate that the alumni did this for me. It means so much to know that others came together to help me achieve my goals and lessen the financial burden.”
The Howard R. Goldstein, MD ’74, Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship “Howard’s medical path began at UB medical school, and he never forgot or took for granted the training he received there. Throughout his career in urology, he was a mentor, teacher and friend who generously gave of his time, knowledge and compassion. We established this scholarship to honor my husband and his love for the UB medical school and to recognize the students who most embody the traits he represented.”
Judy Goldstein, who established the scholarship with friends Laura and Wayne Glazier, MD ’74, and Bonnie and Elliott Schulman, MD ’74
J O S E P H M U R E , M D ’06 WA LT E R S . B A R N E S M E M O R I A L S C H O L A R This spring, after years of service as a faculty member in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a brief hiatus as director of the family medicine residency program at Eastern Niagara Hospital, Joseph Mure, MD ’06, is back in Buffalo, where he has established a private family medicine practice. JOSEPH MURE It’s a move he had been planning since residency. “Family medicine is what being a doctor is all about,” says Mure. “You’re taking care of a person, or a family, for years. I remember my doctor when I was a kid. He was always there for me. That’s the sense of connection I want with my patients as well.” Mure’s commitment to family medicine, and to UB, has never wavered. A Goldwater Scholar as a UB undergraduate, Mure earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then entered UB’s medical school, where he received a Walter S.
Barnes Memorial Scholarship. He graduated in 2006, completed a surgical internship followed by a family medicine residency, and then immediately joined the UB faculty. During his time at the medical school, Mure served as vice chair of clinical services and assistant professor for the Department of Family Medicine as well as the family medicine medical director for UBMD Sheridan Clinic. He departed for Eastern Niagara Hospital in early 2016 to help establish a family medicine residency program. “I was very excited to have the opportunity to start a residency program in family medicine, training physicians in an underserved area with a real need,” he says. The first year was a success, and now that the program is up and running, Mure is pursuing his own dream, which he credits UB for facilitating through scholarship support. “At the time I went through medical school, my son and wife were also attending UB, and another child was in high school. The financial support the scholarship offered was incredibly helpful to me in balancing all of my obligations.”
Patrick P. Lee Foundation Scholarship “The Patrick P. Lee Foundation is proud to support the WNY Medical Scholarship Fund. In an effort to address the shortage of mental health professionals in our region, the Lee Scholarships are awarded to top medical students pursuing psychiatry. The Lee Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people with mental health challenges, and we are grateful to have UB as a partner in our work.” Jane Mogavero, Esq., Executive Director, Patrick P. Lee Foundation
A Conversation with Dean Cain
Photo by Sandra Kicman
T H E M O V E D O W N TOW N , A N D G OA L S FO R T H E S C H O O L I N T H E Y E A R S A H E A D
hen Michael E. Cain, MD, was recruited to UB in 2006 to serve as dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, he was looking for new challenges.
For the previous 31 years, he had been on faculty at Washington University, where, among other things, he established and led an internationally recognized Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory and served as chief of the Cardiovascular Division. At UB, Cain found the new challenges he had sought, and now, 11 years later, he can reflect on a series of notable accomplishments, with the capstone being the opening this fall of the new medical school building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In November, faculty, staff and students will begin the transition downtown, culminating in a formal grand opening of the building in February 2018. Cain was an early, strong proponent of moving the medical school downtown into a new building, an idea championed by then-President John B. Simpson and his successor President Satish K. Tripathi. Once this vision was fully articulated and set in motion, Cain began the
enormous task of organizing the infrastructure necessary to make it happen, with the goal being to integrate the school’s educational, clinical and research components. Among his many accomplishments to date, Cain has led efforts to recruit more than 25 chairs and physician-scientist leaders, put in place a process that resulted in the university winning a prestigious Clinical Translational Science Award, guided the school through a successful accreditation review, established a strong research presence with the new UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and strengthened the school’s affiliations with its hospital and research partners. Given that the new medical school building is set to open this fall, UB Medicine thought it would be a good time to sit down and talk with the dean about the move and his goals for the school in the years ahead. S .A. U n g e r , e d i t o r
INTERVIEW BY ELLEN GOLDBAUM AND RACHEL STERN
Q: W hy did the medical school have to move? A: UB’s medical school has been located on the university’s South Campus since 1953. Some buildings are now more than 60 years old, with significantly outdated classrooms and laboratories. These facilities don’t allow faculty and students to achieve the world-class education and research they aspire to and don’t foster the crossdisciplinary synergies that are so critical to medicine today. This made it increasingly difficult to attract top faculty and students. Since breaking ground for the new building, we have seen a major improvement in our ability to do both these things. Another key factor in the decision to move the school is the fact that it’s not feasible to expand its current facilities—and expansion of medical schools is a national and regional necessity today. Physician shortages in our region range from moderate to quite severe in some specialties, including primary care. With the opening of the new building, we are increasing our class size 25 percent, which is in line with recommendations by the Association of American Medical Colleges, and will translate to more doctors serving the region.
Q: How does the new medical school impact our community? A: The new medical school building will greatly strengthen our region’s academic health center, a consortium of affiliated teaching hospitals and health care systems. Academic health centers combine medical education with superior clinical care and research to provide the most advanced care to patients. Moving the school downtown in close proximity to its clinical and research partners—including Buffalo General Medical Center, the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, the Gates Vascular Institute, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and UBMD Physicians’ Group practices in Conventus—will foster synergies that will expand and improve health care in our community.
Photo by Sandra Kicman
Kaci Shiavone, Class of 2018, discusses her research on shoulder arthoplasty with Dean Cain at the 2016 Medical Student Research Forum.
Q: Can you talk more about how an academic health center benefits patients?
Q: Will the Western New York economy benefit from the new building?
A: Physicians in an academic health center see their role in the community as two-pronged: first, they are researchers who seek to discover new ways to diagnose and treat illnesses; second, they are clinicians and educators who can rapidly translate these discoveries into the care they provide to patients. Patients receiving care through the UBMD Physicians’ Group—the medical school’s clinical faculty practice plan—have access to clinical trials for new drugs and other cutting-edge treatments that represent the newest and best medical approaches, often years before they reach the population as a whole.
A: The new medical school building is the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. Once open, it will bring more than 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown Buffalo daily. Dozens more faculty and physicians are moving downtown to offices in the new Conventus medical office building, where 12 UBMD medical practices are now located. All of this signals a major change for the neighborhood, significantly boosting population density in the heart of the city and providing new opportunities for retail and housing development. More students will need to find housing and other services in the area. For example, the new building was designed without a main dining facility so that area restaurants and stores will realize an economic benefit. The move will also strengthen the biomedical sector as a catalyst for the region’s economic transformation. New medical innovations are expected to spin off businesses and create jobs as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus continues to grow. The move also builds on UB’s many successful research investments in biomedicine downtown, including UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the Institute for Healthcare Informatics and the Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics.
Q: Does the new building help fill gaps in clinical expertise in Buffalo? A: Yes, the new building is key to our being able to recruit and retain world-class faculty who have expertise in medical specialties that the region has sorely lacked in recent years. These faculty are establishing new clinical services and training programs so that Western New Yorkers do not have to leave town for specialty care. UBMD physicians provide the most advanced care available to the people of Western New York.
Q: Can you give an example of how the new building will impact medical education? A: With modular state-of-the-art learning environments, the new building embodies an innovative teaching philosophy, one that’s increasingly being adopted by medical schools. Instead of traditional classrooms with rows of seats facing forward, the rooms are instead constructed so that everyone in the class faces each other in a circle or can gather into small groups. White boards and electronic projection equipment are readily available throughout each room. This means that at any moment, any student in the class can stand up, make a presentation and drive the discussion. It’s a very exciting and collaborative way to learn and it’s especially suitable for a medical school. These physical differences dramatically increase how much students are invested in the learning process. On any given day, any one of them could end up sharing material with the class and providing instruction.
accrediting body for medical schools in our country. In anticipation of this visit, priorities include reviewing and updating medical school policies, and implementing a strategic plan for medical curriculum and a system for continuous quality improvement of the curriculum. We have made a commitment to the LCME to increase the size of our faculty to 860 full-time members by 2020 to meet the increased teaching needs of our larger class size of 180 students. So in the next two years, a priority will be to add approximately 80 new faculty members. Again, key to this is being able to attract top talent to endowed chairs and professorships. These individuals can then lead faculty recruitment efforts for their respective departments and programs.
Q: You have been a strong advocate for increasing diversity in our faculty and student body. Can you talk more specifically about your goal in this area?
A: The new building will provide students in all four years with a shared academic home. That’s not currently the case, because students spend their first two years in classrooms on the South Campus and their last two years doing clinical training at local hospitals. In the new building downtown, medical students will not only have more chances to collaborate and share ideas with one another, but they also will be much closer to the clinical and research centers that make up the Buffalo academic health center. To say that there will be many more opportunities for synergies and collegiality, now and into the future, is probably an understatement.
A: My goal is to make sure that our medical school does in fact look like America. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Dr. Margarita Dubocovich, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and doctors David Milling and Charles Severin in the offices of medical education and admissions—along with members of the admissions committee—we have made strides in increasing the number of women and those traditionally underrepresented in medicine—Native Americans, Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans— in our students body and on our faculty. Through curricula changes, through partnerships with associations in the community and by increased grant support that actually deals with health care disparities, I want to ensure that we continue to be involved in proactive efforts aimed at increasing diversity, not only in our school, but in the delivery of health care in our community.
Q: What are some of your priorities for the next few years?
Q: What do you feel is the medical school’s lasting legacy in the community?
A: It is imperative that we look at ways to support programmatic initiatives for the school and to attract and retain leaders who can drive and fully implement these initiatives. We have a new building, and now we need to redouble our efforts to find ways to enhance the school’s academic mission. That means having funds to endow chairs and professorships in order to attract top physicianscientists who can bring their clinical-research programs to Buffalo. This type of momentum entices young physicians to train with us and stay and practice in our community. Also, we will be training 36 additional students each year, so if we want to continue to attract the best, brightest and most diverse students, it’s imperative that we increase scholarship funds. In April 2019, we will have a site visit by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education—the LCME—the
A: The lasting legacy of the 171-year-old Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is that it is our community’s medical school. The new building helps ensure that the school will continue to play an integral role in the health of our community by providing a world-class home for talented faculty who will educate generations of physicians and biomedical scientists, provide the most advanced care possible and discover new or improved treatments. Given its deep, historical influence on the growth and development of our community, it’s only fitting that the school is moving back to its roots on Main and High streets, where it will anchor an academic health center that will serve Western New York—and beyond—well into the future.
Q: How do you see these changes affecting the school’s culture for students—the impressions they take away as graduates?
Photo by Douglas Levere
Husband-and-wife team M. Laura Feltri, MD, and Lawrence Wrabetz, MD
SUCH OPPORTUNITIES ARE RARE UNIQUE PROGRAM DRAWS TOP MYELIN RESEARCHERS TO BUFFALO
awrence Wrabetz, MD, and M. Laura Feltri, MD, are world leaders in myelin research who have dedicated themselves to laying the groundwork for prognostic, diagnostic and treatment strategies for neurological diseases caused by white matter destruction in the nervous system.
Married for 21 years and research collaborators since 1990, the couple met in a neurology lab, where they discovered an affinity for shared research goals—and each other. “We’re a good fit in the most important ways, and we’re fortunate that we share a deep respect for science and a commitment to making a difference in diseases where there has been very little hope,” says Feltri. In 2011, the couple was recruited to the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute at UB, one of the nation’s few centers dedicated to the study of myelin and myelinrelated disorders. Wrabetz serves as the institute’s director, and he and Feltri each run independent research labs within the institute. Both are professors of neurology and biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MYELIN Myelin, also commonly known as white matter, coats and insulates the axon, the long part of the neuron responsible for rapid signal conduction. When the myelin sheath is damaged or myelin synthesis breaks down— an event known as demyelination—it disrupts information transmission, wreaking havoc in the sensory, cognitive, and/or motor centers of the brain. Demyelinating disorders include multiple sclerosis (MS); leukodystrophies, such as Krabbe disease; congenital muscular dystrophies; and neuropathies of the peripheral nervous system, such as CharcotMarie-Tooth disease.
“Any textbook will tell you that, from an evolutionary perspective, myelination is important because it introduces speed to signal conduction in the nervous system,” says Feltri. “It’s the reason, for example, that we respond so quickly to a predator’s attack.” Research on diseases of myelin can be traced back to the 19th century French neurologist and pathologist Jean-Martin Charcot, the father of modern neurology and the first to scientifically describe MS as a distinct disease. “Charcot noticed that scars in the brain’s white matter were related to specific signs and symptoms of MS,” most notably tremors, slurred speech, and involuntary eye movement, explains Wrabetz. “After Charcot’s work, we had some pretty good ideas about myelin, but it wasn’t until the mapping of the human genome that we began discovering just how complex demyelinating disorders are.” “Many of the mechanisms of these diseases, and the specific cells involved in myelin production, remain poorly understood,” says Feltri. To overcome these challenges, Wrabetz says the neuroscientist of the 21st century “first needs to identify which parts of the nervous system are really diseased in order to determine when and how to develop targeted therapies.”
BEST SCIENTIFIC TALENT The Hunter James Kelly Research Institute was founded in 2008 as the research arm of Hunter’s Hope Foundation, which was
BY COLLEEN KARUZA
established by Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill, after their late son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy, an inherited, fatal disorder of the nervous system. The Foundation addresses the need for research and information on Krabbe and other leukodystrophies and provides support and encouragement to patients and their families struggling with these illnesses. The Hunter James Kelly Research Institute is located in the UB New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and is supported by UB, Hunter’s Hope Foundation and external funding. Once recruited to Buffalo, Wrabetz and Feltri were charged with “creating the physical reality of the institute’s basic science laboratories,” explains Wrabetz.This included mobilizing multidisciplinary teams and building from the ground up high-quality research programs aimed at discovering clues to myelin damage and repair. The clinical research component was already in place, under the supervision of Patricia Duffner, MD ’72, professor of pediatrics and neurology at UB, who has since retired from full-time practice. “It took about three to four years for us to develop the right tools and to recruit the best scientific talent,” says Wrabetz, “and we are only now starting to see some measurable results.” Today, the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute—which houses a research staff of 40, including three senior and three junior
Photo by Sandra Kicman
M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of neurology and biochemistry, left; with Yannick Poitelon, PhD, research assistant professor, center, now at Albany College of Medicine; and Gustavo Della Flora Nunes, PhD student, right.
faculty—is “a hub of research excellence and activity,” says Feltri, a 2016 recipient of UB’s Exceptional Scholar Award for unprecedented accomplishment and a distinguishing body of work. “Almost all the research conducted here is funded by the National Institutes of Health,” says Wrabetz, “and our faculty and trainees work in different areas—electrophysiology, microscopy, transgenic mouse models—to create synergy between disciplines. “We cultivate partnerships with other UB researchers in the medical school and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in addition to other myelin-focused investigators in the U.S. and abroad.” Wrabetz believes that the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, which is exclusively focused on myelin and myelin-related basic and translational research, is one of a kind. “There are dedicated MS research centers, but we have a broader purview in terms of developmental disorders,” he notes. “There have been some virtual centers, but such efforts have faced sustainability challenges in a time of diminishing resources.” The researchers say that while there are no neuroprotective or myelin-repair drugs currently on the market, there are some in the pipeline. “The reality is that there are no shortcuts to moving effective therapies quickly from bench to bedside, and progress is measured in small, but meaningful steps,” Wrabetz explains.
One such step is Feltri’s ongoing collaboration with the CharcotMarie-Tooth Association and a well-known pharmaceutical company. Together, they are working to develop a cure for the most common cause of neuropathy in diseases such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth, in which patients have three copies of a certain gene instead of two. “We are hopeful that a clinical trial could begin in a few years,” she says.
DISCOVERIES PROPEL PROGRESS During a television appearance years ago, British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks remarked that, “There are thousands of messages going on simultaneously between different parts of the brain. It’s unimaginably complex and beautiful.” Eavesdropping on these cellular conversations has been a source of new insights, says Feltri, whose lab leads a number of studies in this area. “We look at the way cells talk to other cells and their external environment in order to understand the molecular basis of myelination and demyelination,” she explains. “These critically important interactions are responsible for healthy brain function and cognition, and while notoriously difficult to study, can tell us a lot.” Feltri’s research is currently funded by two $1.2 million NIH grants as well as grants from private foundations. She and her colleagues recently discovered some of the adhesive
“We’re a good fit in the most important ways, and we’re fortunate that we share a deep respect for science and a commitment to making a difference in diseases where there has been very little hope.” —M. Laura Feltri, MD
molecules and receptors that cells involved in peripheral nerve myelination use to communicate. “We found that receptors act as little antennae to receive signals. No receptors, no myelin,“ she reports. Advances like these make it “an exciting time for neuroscience,” says Wrabetz, and both he and Feltri hold firmly to the belief that quality science is what propels biomedical progress. Wrabetz’s research on myelin and neuropathy has been continuously supported since 1995 by grants from European research institutes and international pharmaceutical companies. He currently holds a $1.2 million NIH grant to study myelin protein neuropathies in transgenic mice. He has developed and characterized multiple mouse models for studies of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, with Feltri as co-investigator on the research. Since coming to UB, Wrabetz and Feltri have collaborated on more than 25 peerreviewed journal articles. Recent collaborations that have led to important contributions to their field of study include: an explication of how a genetic mutation causes neuropathy in CharcotMarie-Tooth disease; the discovery of the critical role mechanical forces play in the formation of myelin; and the introduction of a novel, more effective method of studying the intricacies of how brain cells interact. “Each of these studies represents an incremental elevation in our understanding of myelin-related diseases as we move toward developing effective therapeutic interventions,” says Feltri.
FROM MILAN TO BUFFALO Wrabetz was born and raised near Milwaukee, Wis. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his residency in neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in Philadelphia, followed by two postdoctoral fellowships, both in neuroscience, at its school of medicine. It was at a lab bench there that Wrabetz and Feltri met.
“I was beginning a research fellowship and he was just completing one,” recalls Feltri, a native of Milan, Italy, who received her medical degree from the University of Milan. Wrabetz had thought about neuroimmunology as a career path, but at the University of Chicago, he decided to focus on genetics when he studied under then-faculty member Kari Stefansson, MD, the pioneering Icelandic neurologist credited with leading efforts to gather genotypic and medical data from more than 160,000 volunteer participants comprising well over half of the adult population of Iceland. Feltri says that she has “always liked science, especially biology,” but was drawn to neuroscience when a family friend gave her a book by Oliver Sacks. At Penn, she was randomly assigned to a myelin lab that was run by a scientist interested in neuropathies, and her own interests took root. The couple subsequently moved to Milan, where they ran laboratories at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, with Wrabetz heading the Myelin Biology Unit and Feltri, the NeuroGlia Unit. Italy was home for the next two decades. “Our children were born there and we developed some extraordinary professional and personal relationships,” says Wrabetz. “It was difficult to leave.” But leave they did when an opportunity to establish a myelin basic research center in UB’s medical school presented itself. “We were attracted to the possibilities that such a unique center would afford,” says Wrabetz. “For our specialties and research interests, opportunities like this are rare.” Over the years, in addition to conducting research, Wrabetz and Feltri have mentored 75 trainees, including postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students. “The first thing I tell trainees is, ‘You’re here to find the truth,’ says Wrabetz. “I encourage them to identify the biggest gap in their area of interest and commit to finding answers that will help fill that void and add to the body of knowledge.” Feltri says she enjoys seeing young, talented scientists grow into first-class researchers who have the ability and the drive to make a difference” and admits that
even today, she herself still marvels at “the complexities of the human body and the new things we learn about it everyday.”
HOUSE RULES When asked what it’s like to be married to a collaborator, Wrabetz has a simple and direct answer. “From the beginning, being together as a married couple and as colleagues has had a natural feel to it, and it still feels that way.” Feltri says she values their working relationship and explains that they complement each other’s work habits and temperaments. “As a colleague, my husband is supportive and generous with his time,” she says. “He’s also very detail-oriented, which is good because I’m not. He sees the big picture and is adept at anticipating future trends and identifying what needs attention.” As parents, Feltri and Wrabetz agreed early on to leave their work in the lab at the end of each day. “It’s hard to bring your work home when you have three children,” says Wrabetz, who explains that the house rules, for the most part, have been honored. “When you are passionate about what you’re doing, you can get immersed pretty easily and it’s frustrating to lose momentum and break focus. And when there are two researchers who share the same areas of interest and live in the same house, it’s twice as challenging,” says Feltri. Wrabetz and Feltri have settled into a comfortable life during their six years in Buffalo. “We’re city people,” says Feltri, ”and we live right in the heart of Buffalo and love it, especially the beautiful trees that are everywhere.” Recalling their recruitment interviews back in 2010, the couple says they were told that UB was part of a larger plan to revitalize Buffalo. Yet a few skeptics told them to tread carefully. “But in our time here, we’ve seen delivery on every promise,” Feltri says with a smile. “And we can definitely see a major difference. Things are happening at an accelerated pace, and we are proud to be part of it.” To learn more about research described in this article, go to medicine.buffalo.edu and search “Wrabetz” and “Feltri.”
THE ONLY JOB I WANT TO DO James Pattarini, MD ’10, MPH, at home as a NASA flight surgeon
As a boy, James Pattarini, MD ’10, MPH—a self-described child of “Star Trek”—hoped someday to work in space. He grew up following the NASA space program with his family and remembers watching with excitement when the Mars Pathfinder mission landed on the red planet. But it wasn’t until Pattarini’s second year at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences that he learned from his future wife and fellow medical school classmate, Harita Nyalakonda, about the possibility of a career in aerospace medicine. “At that point I had known for years that I wanted to be a physician, but until then it never crossed my mind that I could be a physician who also contributed to manned space flight,” Pattarini says. During his fourth year at UB, Pattarini traveled to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas, on rotation with its Aerospace Medicine Department. He quickly became engrossed in the study of how healthy people are affected by extreme environments, such as high-altitude, low-oxygen pressure and weightlessness, and other physiological challenges. In 2010, Pattarini matched into a four-year combined residency in internal medicine and aerospace medicine at UTMB.
By Mark S o mm e r
HAS NEVER LOOKED BACK “It was more than everything I had hoped it would be,” he says. “I remember two weeks into the rotation calling my girlfriend—now my wife—and saying, Well, this is the only job I want to do.” Today, Pattarini, 33, is a NASA flight surgeon at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. His first mission assignment has him working as deputy crew surgeon with astronaut Peggy Whitson, who is currently serving on the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 50/51. The crew, which includes Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, launched in November 2016 from Kazakhstan. Whitson, the first woman to command the space station, made headlines in April of this year by setting the U.S. record for most days in space. As one of only 22 flight surgeons working at NASA, Pattarini considers himself fortunate.
“When I came on board, one of the things I immediately saw was this incredibly broad range of backgrounds and experiences,” he says. “It’s humbling to be part of this group. I see how much they have contributed to the space program, and I hope to carry on their legacy in the decades to come.” Pattarini grew up in Utica, N.Y., and came to UB medical school in part to be close to family after receiving a bachelor of science in biology at Syracuse University. “My experience in UB medical school was wonderful,” he says. “Buffalo is the kind of place where everybody lifts each other up. “I had advisors and faculty who asked what I would want to do, and when I’d say aerospace medicine, I never got any discouragement. I think that wouldn’t be the case everywhere, and that’s a testament to the University at Buffalo.” UB medical school is also where Pattarini met his wife, Harita, and the couple now has a one-year-old son, Kiran. Harita completed an internal medicine residency at Baylor College of Medicine and an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She practices as an infectious disease consultant in private practice in the Houston area. The University of Texas Medical Branch, where Pattarini earned a master of public health, is one of only two universities, along with Wright State University, to offer aerospace medicine residency training to civilians. Rotations in the program include working with current NASA flight surgeons to gain exposure to operational space medicine, awayrotations to McMurdo Station Clinic in Antarctica, and the clinical support of active astronauts. Pattarini found the program accessible to students of varied medical backgrounds. “With a lot of fellowships or residencies, you have a very narrow path to follow,” he explains. “For example, with cardiology you have to come from internal medicine. But with aerospace medicine, because it’s a residency in and of itself, you can really
Photo Photo by by Douglas Douglas Levere Levere
James Pattarini, MD ’10, MPH, is only one of 22 flight surgeons working at NASA.
come from any medical background.” Pattarini served as chief resident of the internal medicine program, and was hired as a NASA flight surgeon in 2015.
VIGILANT MONITORING AND CARE In his current assignment, Pattarini is one of two crew surgeons assigned to Whitson. They communicate through live audio and video from their console in the Houston Mission Control Center. A private, telemedicine conference is conducted once a week, which Pattarini compares to an office visit. The exams involve versions of tools commonly found in a doctor’s office. The astronauts are trained to use each of the devices for routine diagnostics and medical evaluations. Cameras on the devices allow the crew surgeons to watch in real time. Sports medicine also comes into play, since the astronauts work out two hours a day to stave off the negative effects of microgravity, the condition in which people appear weightless. “We’re watching the crew and listening to their voices, and we are always watching for risks,” Pattarini says. For space walks, crew surgeons monitor the space weather, which can include anything from solar-particle events to increased X-ray radiation exposure. They observe the astronauts on their walk, monitoring spacesuit pressure and heart and metabolic rates. They also monitor the space station for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, total air pressure, temperature and humidity. The most dangerous part of an astronaut’s job is when
they leave the protection of the space station for a space walk, which can take up to seven hours. That requires the crew surgeon to be on the lookout for a variety of conditions, ranging from signs of decompression illness to loss of temperature control in their spacesuits. “You’re always on guard,” Pattarini says.
INCREDIBLY REWARDING WORK Looking ahead, Pattarini sees considerable growth in the aerospace medicine field, as private space enterprises get closer to putting humans in space. “I think commercial crew companies like Boeing, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are getting wider recognition as they get closer to putting people in space,” Pattarini observes. “They will need physicians to take care of these astronauts.” That potential is also bringing a little closer to reality Pattarini’s dream as a young boy to see space work become commonplace. “I’ve always thought manned space flight would be the most important thing that humans as a species do,” he says. “Being able to help that mission continue—and not in an abstract way, but with the astronauts and my colleagues—is incredibly rewarding. “I think human space flight is the modern equivalent of the pyramids,” he adds. “It’s the thing that will be remembered thousands of years from now. Human space flight is one of those things that changes the human story, and leaves a mark forever.”
UB MED DOCTOR VISITS
Photo by Douglas Levere
Photos by Sandra Kicman
“I’m committed to helping students understand and appreciate the complexities of mental illness.”
WORKING TIRELESSLY FOR THE MENTALLY ILL Sergio Hernandez, MD ’06, a role model for holistic care Many people are frightened by mental illness and shy away from those who suffer from the disease, L o r i F e r g us o n but Sergio Hernandez, MD ’06, is not one of them. “Mental illness can happen to anyone,” he says simply. An assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and director of medical student education in psychiatry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Hernandez works tirelessly to treat those who suffer from diseases of the mind as well as to educate the next generation of physicians on how they can make a difference. Hernandez says he first began thinking about disparities in the treatment of the mentally ill during his undergraduate years at the University of California, Berkeley. “I came into contact with a sizeable population of mentally ill and homeless individuals around campus and was troubled by how marginalized they were,” he recalls. “I thought, If they’re not getting the help they need in a liberal enclave like Berkeley, then where are they getting help? Later, a stint as an HIV counselor to the working poor in a Beverly Hills free clinic convinced Hernandez to devote himself to helping this patient population get the attention it deserves. Hernandez subsequently enrolled in medical school at UB and then completed his training in Buffalo, serving as chief resident and contributing to the curriculum of the medical-educator track now available to UB psychiatry residents. Today, in addition to serving Stories
as an adult inpatient psychiatrist at Erie County Medical Center, he devotes much of his time to educating medical students about mental illness and helping them to identify and re-evaluate the stigmas attached to diseases of the mind. In this role, Hernandez is widely lauded, twice receiving the Mentor of the Year award from UB’s psychiatry residents as well as the Irma Bland Award for Excellence in Teaching Residents from the American Psychiatric Association. “I never thought I’d be an educator, but I’ve discovered that teaching is something I really enjoy,” he says. “I’m committed to helping students understand and appreciate the complexities of mental illness and encouraging them to take a more holistic approach to psychiatry, rather than simply ask, What is the diagnosis? and What is the treatment?” It appears to be working. UB is currently among the top five medical schools recruiting students into psychiatry; the school also has a higher percentage than average of its student body choosing psychiatry as a specialty. “I’d like to think our educational process has something to do with it,” says Hernandez. Hernandez acknowledges that he has developed a reputation as a big advocate for Buffalo and the medical school, yet sheepishly admits that he sought entrance into UB on a whim. “I love the singer Ani DiFranco. She’s from Buffalo and she’s really cool, so I thought, Why not apply there?” He couldn’t be happier with his decision. “Buffalo’s a great-size city with wonderful amenities. I received a great education. I met the woman here who became my wife. And after 15 years, it’s home.”
Photo by Sandra Kicman
“To make patients’ lives better, we need to understand and appreciate every team member’s contributions.”
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS Faye Justicia-Linde, MD ’05, clinician and education leader For Faye Justicia-Linde, MD ’05, the desire to educate is second nature. A clinical assistant professor and director of medical student education in UB’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, Justicia-Linde grew up in an environment that placed a premium on education. “My parents were both teachers and I got the message early on that if you want to do things in the world, you have to expand your knowledge base continuously,” she says. “I also recognize that I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for the wonderful teachers and mentors whom I had in medical school and residency.” Justicia-Linde also views education as part and parcel of her role as a physician. “Not only am I a doctor, but I am also an educator on health and well-being for the women and girls who are my patients,” she points out. Justicia-Linde is particularly interested in gynecologic conditions in the pediatric-adolescent population, a group that she says is highly receptive to guidance. “My role is to teach women about how their bodies are supposed to work, and young girls are generally eager for this knowledge.” Justicia-Linde enjoys mentoring young physicians as well. As clerkship director for the medical school, she oversees the obstetrics and gynecology rotation for all third-year medical students. “OB/Gyn is one of the core rotations—every student spends six weeks in our department in the third year—so I’m able to interact with all of our students, which is awesome. I’m very grateful to have the chance to contribute to medical education and curriculum development.”
Justicia-Linde is also actively involved with interprofessional education at UB, collaborating with faculty from UB’s School of Nursing and the staff at the Behling Simulation Center to train medical students, obstetrics and gynecology residents, and nursing students to work as a team. “As medical professionals, we work in teams all the time, but that fact hasn’t really been reflected in our training until recently,” she explains. “In order to make patients’ lives better, we need to understand and appreciate every team member’s contributions and commit to enhancing our communication skills. The earlier we cement strong communication practices among team members, the better patient care we will all be able to provide.” Care is something that Justicia-Linde has been focused on for many years. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something in women’s health.” A native of Western New York, she was familiar with UB and says she knew that the school would afford her an excellent education at a great value. “I applied to medical school through UB’s early assurance program as a sophomore at Wells College. It was a wonderful opportunity. Getting into med school at that point allowed me to relax and enjoy school.” After medical school, Justicia-Linde entered a residency program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and just as it was ending, an OB/Gyn position opened at UB. Justicia-Linde knew that returning to Buffalo was the right move. “This is my home,” she says. “I felt a loyalty to my school and my community—it was fate.” Picture above, Faye Justicia-Linde, MD ’05, left, and Taylor Shreve, MD ’17, who is training in obstetrics and gynecology at UB. SUMMER 2017
U B M E D PAT H WAY S
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences were presented during Reunion Weekend and Spring Clinical Day. The recipients were honored at a dinner held on April 28 at Hotel Henry in downtown Buffalo. The event, sponsored by the UB Medical Alumni Association in conjunction with the school, was attended by family and friends of the awardees, as well as alumni, faculty and students.
MARTIN BRECHER, MD ’72, DISTINGUISHED MEDICAL ALUMNUS
Martin Brecher, MD ’72, former chief of pediatric hematology-oncology at UB, served for more than 25 years as chair of pediatrics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and chief of pediatric hematology-oncology for Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Thousands of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer and their families have benefited from Brecher’s care and compassion. Extensively published, Brecher has numerous research articles, abstracts and book chapters to his credit. He has held many active leadership roles at the institutions he served, including 2005 president of the UB Medical Alumni Association. A dedicated and patient teacher, Brecher received many academic awards, including UB’s Frederick B. Wilkes Teaching Award in Pediatrics, the 2005 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, the Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Excellence in Teaching Award, and a combined UB and Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo John Paroski House Staff Teaching Award in Pediatrics. Brecher also has been recognized in the community for his contributions. He is the recipient of the Burt Flickinger Jr. Physician’s Award from the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western New York Service Award, the Spirit of Teddi Humanitarian Award from Camp Good Days and Special Times, and the New Era Champion for Children Award presented by Brian Moorman’s P.U.N.T. Foundation.
ANTHONY CAMPAGNARI, PHD ’84, DISTINGUISHED BIOMEDICAL ALUMNUS
Anthony Campagnari, PhD ’84, is a professor of microbiology, immunology and medicine at UB, where he completed his doctoral degree in tumor immunology and a postdoctoral fellowship in infectious disease. In 1996, he joined the UB faculty as a tenured associate professor. Campagnari’s long-term research focuses on bacterial virulence factors, biofilm-associated components and putative vaccine antigens for two gram-negative human pathogens: Moraxella catarrhalis and Acinetobacter baumannii. More recently, he has expanded his research into the area of gram-positive bacteria. His latest publication in MBio describes a novel murine colonization model that has provided insights into the pathogenesis of secondary bacterial pneumonia caused by Staphylococcus aureus. This work was featured in an American Society for Microbiology press release in 2016. In addition, his group is currently involved in a collaborative project focused on the development of a novel antimicrobial treatment for orthopaedic-related infections. Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, industry and private foundations for more than 25 years, Campagnari’s research has led to 75 publications, five U.S. patents and more than $10 million in extramural funding. Campagnari has been honored with the UB Sustained Achievement Award from the Exceptional Scholars Program (2002), the UB Visionary Innovator Award (2008), the UB Inventor and Entrepreneur Award (2009), the UB Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award (2015), the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Dean’s Award (2016) Stockton Kimball Award (2016), and a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for excellence in scholarship and creative activities (2017). Earlier this year, the American Academy of Microbiology elected Campagnari a fellow. This honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology recognizes excellence, originality and leadership in the microbiological sciences.
ROSE BERKUN, MD ’92, DISTINGUISHED VOLUNTEER
Rose Berkun, MD 92, generously volunteers her time, energy and expertise to a wide variety of endeavors in academic medicine, the field of anesthesiology and the community. A clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Berkun is president of Northeast Ambulatory Anesthesia, PLLC, an office-based anesthesia practice that she founded. A consummate teacher, mentor and ambassador for UB, she plays a lead volunteer role in the Build the Vision campaign, serving as chair of the Circle of Leaders recognition society. She is a cofounder of UB DoctHERS, a network of women physicians, scientists, residents and students who work to promote equal opportunities for future generations of women in medicine and science. Berkun is the 2017-18 president of the UB Medical Alumni Association, and has served on its board since 2012. In addition to being on faculty in the Department of Anesthesiology at UB, Berkun is program director for the annual Comprehensive Workshop on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management, conducted at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Currently, Berkun is president of the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists. She also serves in a number of leadership capacities with other medical societies, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Medical Society of the State of New York and the American Medical Association.
KINGA SZIGETI, MD, PHD DISTINGUISHED RESIDENT
Kinga Szigeti, MD, PhD, is the founding director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center and the Translational Genomics Research Laboratory in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The center was recently designated a Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease by the New York State Department of Health. The clinical mission of Szigeti’s team is to provide compassionate state-of-the-art care for patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders. Their research mission is to employ genetic tools to identify novel risk factors and potential pathways that can be targeted with medications to prevent or modify the course of disease. Szigeti’s group has made a number of discoveries, including the identification of an olfactory receptor CNV association with age at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. They are now applying a novel method to study the olfactory subgenome in relation to smell sensation and cognition and are participating in a related multicenter study funded by the National Institute on Aging. The group also has identified a human-specific fusion gene, CHRFAM7A, as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Their lab is modeling Alzheimer’s disease in a dish to understand the mechanism by which this fusion gene confers disease susceptibility. After serving her neurology residency at UB from 1999 to 2002, Szigeti completed a genetics fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine. She earned her medical degree at the University of Pecs, Hungary, and her PhD in clinical neuroscience at the University of Szeged, Hungary, both summa cum laude.
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U B M E D PAT H WAY S IN MEMORIAM PETER A. NICKERSON, PHD Longtime professor of pathology and anatomical sciences Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, who taught for nearly 50 years in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, died on Feb. 2 in Heathwood Assisted Living, Amherst, N.Y. He was 75. A native of Harwich, Mass., Nickerson earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree and a PhD from Clark University. Known for his research into high blood pressure, he was recruited to join UB’s faculty in 1967. Over the course of his career, he authored or co-authored 65 publications. Outside of the classroom, Nickerson immersed himself in university life. He served as chair of the UB Faculty Senate for five terms and on dozens
RONALD E. BATT, MD ’58, PHD Professor of obstetrics and gynecology and historian Ronald E. Batt, MD ’58, PhD, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, died at home on April 25 after a brief illness. He was 83. A native of Buffalo, Batt graduated from UB medical school in 1958 and completed residencies and fellowships at Buffalo hospitals, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic. Batt was in private practice in Buffalo from 1970 to 1990, and in 1995 he joined the medical school’s faculty. He was known internationally for his work on endometriosis and its pathophysiology and for developing his theory of developmental müllerian diseases, or müllerianosis.
of departmental, university and SUNY committees over the years. In addition, he was chair of the Medical Faculty Council, a SUNY senator, and president of the SUNYBuffalo chapter of Sigma Xi. Nickerson, who retired in March 2015, had no immediate survivors. A university official said his friends and colleagues at UB were his family. A memorial service will be held for Nickerson on September 14 on UB South Campus, 403 B Hayes Hall at 3:30 p.m.
seminal book, The History of Endometriosis, which was published in 2013. Batt was recognized by UB with the Medical Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and in 2015 received the prestigious Harry Reich Award for Pioneering Work in the Science and Treatment of Endometriosis from the Endometriosis Foundation of America. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen; his children: Paula Wilson, Douglas Batt, Thomas Batt, Neil Batt, Jennifer Michalski, and John Batt; and stepchildren: William Cansdale, James Cansdale, Suzanne Gill, Timothy Cansdale, John Cansdale and Mark Cansdale.
After retiring from clinical practice, Batt pursued an interest in history and completed a PhD in the subject in 2009. His thesis research became the
JAMES “JIM” JOSEPH SHAUGHNESSY, MD ’86 James “Jim” Joseph Shaughnessy, MD ’86, passed away unexpectedly from natural causes on December 30, 2016 at his residence in Los Angeles, Calif. A native of Jamestown, NY, Shaughnessy earned his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, at Colgate University. Following medical school, he completed a psychiatry residency at Tufts University, a fellowship in child psychiatry at Brown University, and a master’s in public health at Harvard University.
Shaughnessy’s professional career included positions in both adult and child psychiatry in Boston, Mass.; San Francisco and Los Angeles, Calif., as well as a year working and traveling in Australia and New Zealand. Shaughnessy is survived by siblings Mary Prunty of Huntsville, Ala.; Rev. William Shaughnessy of San Antonio, Texas; Patrick Shaughnessy, MD ’87, of Greenville, Penn.; and Annie M. Shaughnessy of Northborough, Mass.
RALPH T. BEHLING MD ’43 Dermatologist and generous benefactor Ralph T. Behling MD ’43, a dermatologist and generous benefactor of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the UB School of Nursing, died on December 17, 2016 in Burlingame, Calif. He was 98. The only child of parents who owned a drugstore in Buffalo and a summer resort in Hamburg, N.Y., Behling grew up attending schools in both his hometown and West Palm Beach, Fla. In 1940, he earned a BS in pharmacy at UB, and in 1943 he earned an MD, after which he trained in dermatology. Following residency, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Public Health Service (PHS) for four years, during which time he was awarded a $1 million grant to help introduce the Pap smear test to medical schools and hospitals west of the Mississippi. His work for the PHS took him to San Francisco, Calif., where he established a private dermatology practice in San Mateo in 1947.
He also taught dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Behling was a generous benefactor of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the UB School of Nursing. He endowed the Rita M. and Ralph T. Behling, M.D., Chair in Dermatology at the medical school in memory of his first wife, who died in 1998, and supported the establishment of the Behling Simulation Center. He is survived by his second wife, Eileen King Murray Behling; his children: James Behling, David Behling, Linda Behling Russell, Marshall Behling, Jenifer Behling; and ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife of 55 years and the mother of his children, Rita Marie Clancy Behling.
JOGINDER N. BHAYANA, MD
ROBERT L. MALATESTA, MD ’60
Heart transplant pioneer and friend of the school
Obstetrician-gynecologist and medical educator
Joginder N. Bhayana, MD, a surgeon and philanthropist who performed the first heart transplant in Buffalo and led Buffalo’s heart transplant program, died Jan. 2 in Canterbury Woods after a long illness. He was 84.
Robert L. Malatesta, MD ’60, a prominent obstetrician-gynecologist and medical educator, died Feb. 5, 2017, after a brief illness. He was 83.
An associate professor of surgery at UB, Bhayana worked as a heart surgeon from 1973 to 2000 at Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Medical Center, a UB teaching affiliate. Bhayana and his wife, the late Ved, established a scholarship fund that each year provides assistance to two UB medical students who are from Western New York and have demonstrated financial need. Survivors include two sons, Rohit and Ranjan, and six grandchildren.
Following residency at the Buffalo General Hospital, Malatesta joined the staff at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, N.J., his hometown, and started a private practice before serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Upon returning to Plainfield, he gave up private practice to initiate and direct Muhlenberg’s residency program in OB/GYN. The program became the nucleus of the Rutgers Medical School residency, and he was named a clinical professor at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. A generous donor to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Malatesta joined his classmates in sponsoring the MD Class of ’60 Student Group Study Suite in the school’s new building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Surviving are his wife, Barbara; his son, Charles; his daughters, Nanette Saylor and Emily Kelton; and six grandchildren.
To read full-length versions of these obituaries, go to medicine.buffalo.edu/alumni, click on Classnotes and view by Decades. For non-alumni, click on Faculty and Leadership.
UB MED Q&A DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION HELP ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE — A Conversation with Margarita Dubocovich, PhD Margarita Dubocovich, PhD, is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. An internationally recognized expert on melatonin and the regulation of the hormone’s receptors in the brain and body, Dubocovich also is a highly regarded educator and mentor. Since being named senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in 2012, she had led the school’s efforts to attract and retain students and faculty from diverse and underrepresented populations. Because her efforts are key to Dean Cain’s goals in the years ahead, UB Medicine talked with Dubocovich about her work in this area. Q: What is meant by diversity and inclusion? A: Diversity not only describes differences in race/ethnicity and gender, but also incorporates age, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status and abilities/disabilities. An inclusive and welcoming community creates the optimal conditions to achieve excellence by engaging the unique talents and experiences of each individual. Q: Why is diversity important to our medical school? A: A diverse workforce brings new ideas, innovation, different perspectives and ways to solve complex problems, which together help to bring excellence, if not preeminence, to an institution. A diverse workforce also enhances educational outcomes and helps us to achieve excellence in health care by bridging cultural differences and promoting research in health disparities.
“The new medical school building downtown is a tremendous asset, but successful recruitment efforts still require a strong, ongoing commitment.”
Q: What programs have you developed to address these goals? A: Our strategy has been to bridge pockets of success within our school and to collaborate with UB partners, national leaders and granting agencies. Programs we have developed include the CLIMB UP summer program for undergraduates, which enrolls 25 to 30 talented students from diverse backgrounds for a 10-week research and professional development internship. The CLIMB Program, which provides mentoring and scientific communication skills to PhD students; and the Community of Scholars program, which provides mentoring, career development and funding to advance the careers of qualified assistant professors engaged in clinical and translational research. These and other programs are described on the Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement’s website at medicine.buffalo.edu/oiace. Q: Is there a particular accomplishment that you want to highlight? A: Important milestones were achieved in 2012 with the release of the school-wide Diversity Policy, which was followed in 2014 by the development of the medical admissions policy incorporating a holistic review of applications to medical school. Guided by these policies, we have created communities of scholars at each educational level to facilitate seamless transitions along educational and training stages. Q: What are some of the challenges you face? A: The biggest challenge we face is competing with medical schools across the country to attract students, residents and faculty from a wide range of backgrounds. The new medical school building downtown is a tremendous asset, but successful recruitment efforts still require a strong, ongoing commitment. Budgetary concerns are always an issue, and we also need to dispel lingering misconceptions about Buffalo.
Fortunately, new faculty are our best ambassadors since they are often eager to talk about the many positive aspects of living in Buffalo and the opportunities at UB for collaboration in research and health care. Dubocovich
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UB Medicine is the official publication for alumni and friends of the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science...