FA LL 2022
UB MEDICINE CONNECTING ALUMNI, FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY
JACOBS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO
Remembering the Life and Legacy of Jonathan Daniels, MD ’98 1969-2022 FALL 2022
Message from the Dean
hen I began in my role as dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in December 2021, no one could have anticipated the traumatic events that our school, university and community would face within a few short months—from the racist killing of ten African Americans at a Tops Market in May; to the tragic death of a beloved school leader, Dr. Jonathan Daniels, who, along with two of his daughters, died in a house fire on July 4; to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. All that has transpired, however, only affirms for me what an honor it is to serve this school and this community in this capacity at a time when we are clearly transitioning to a heightened and urgent awareness of changes that must take place in health care and medical education if we are to truly fulfill the mission of what it means to be an academic health center. I was reminded of the hope inherent in these challenges when I attended my first White Coat Ceremony at the Jacobs School in August. What a wonderful day it was, full of excitement and anticipation for faculty, staff and families—all in attendance to celebrate this new chapter in the lives of 184 distinguished students selected from more than 5,000 applicants. These individuals represent the future of health care, and it is through them that positive changes in medicine will evolve if we—their teachers, mentors and school leaders—remind them every day that we will work tirelessly alongside them to address entrenched problems that now impair our society’s ability to provide equitable, quality healthcare for everyone. In the cover story of this issue of UB Medicine, which honors the life and legacy of Dr. Daniels, you will gain insight into why we feel this esteemed physician can best be memorialized by channeling our grief into renewed efforts to build a sustained pipeline of medical and biomedical students who better reflect the demographics of our community and our nation. Other articles in this issue describe how we are incorporating anti-racist principles into our newly revised curriculum; how emergency medicine physicians in the Jacobs School have developed an innovative model of care for patients suffering from drug addiction; and how we are exploring the use of telehealth to provide better continuity of care for underserved children with type 1 diabetes. In all these endeavors we are supported and inspired by our increasingly strong partnerships in the community that provide us with valued input on how to recognize and counter attitudes and injustices that undermine the health and well-being of too many residents in our region. It is my hope that these ongoing exchanges will result in our discovering how the Jacobs School can best help our community begin to heal not only from the multiple tragedies it has recently faced, but also from harmful historic trends we must all work together to reverse.
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA Vice President for Health Sciences Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
TA B LE O F CO NTE NT S UBMEDICINE
UB MEDICINE MAGAZINE | Fall 2022, Vol 10, No. 2
ALLISON BRASHEAR, MD, MBA Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Eric C. Alcott Associate Vice President for Advancement, Health Sciences, Senior Associate Dean of Medical Advancement
30 DOCTOR VISITS
Editorial Director Christine Fontaneda Executive Director of Medical Advancement
Reflections on careers
Editor Stephanie A. Unger
People in the news
Contributing Writers Bill Bruton, Ellen Goldbaum, Dirk Hoffman, Ann Whitcher-Gentzke
Copyeditor Ann Whitcher-Gentzke
Jonathan Daniels, MD ’98, right, pictured with other past presidents of the UB Medical Alumni Association, J. Randall Loftus, MD ’92, left, and Thomas J. Guttuso Sr., MD ’60, center. 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 Jonathan Daniels, MD ’89 Photo by Sandra Kicman
10 School Mourns Leader, Mentor
Jonathan Daniels, MD ’98, associate director of admissions, who died in a house fire on July 4, along with two of his daughters, was a tireless advocate for diversity in medicine.
16 NEW APPROACH TO OPIOID USE DISORDER
Program developed by emergency medicine physicians at the Jacobs School is being modeled nationwide
24 REVISED CURRICULUM ADDRESSES RACISM
Changes include the patient cases students are exposed to, as standardized patients or in the community
28 FROM REFUGEE TO DOCTOR
Meet Mam Deng, MD ’22, who came to Buffalo as a child when his family fled war-torn Sudan
Photography Sandra Kicman Meredith Forrest Kulwicki Douglas Levere Art Direction & Design Ellen Stay Editorial Adviser John J. Bodkin II, MD ’76 Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Erie County Medical Center Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System Kaleida Health Buffalo General Medical Center DeGraff Memorial Hospital Gates Vascular Institute John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital 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, 916 Kimball Tower, Buffalo, NY 14214; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
U B M E D V I TA L L I N ES By Dirk Hoffman
CO-DEVELOPER OF MRNA VACCINES FOR COVID DELIVERS HARRINGTON LECTURE The scientist, who with a collaborator, invented and developed the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that is the basis for PfizerBioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, embodies the textbook definition of perseverance. Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke about his efforts to advance RNA technologies for use in vaccines on June 4 during Spring Clinical Day. The event brought to a close a yearlong celebration commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Studies Begun in Obscurity Weissman was the keynote speaker for the Harrington Lecture and his talk, titled “Collaboration That Caught Fire: Decades of Research that Led to SARS-Cov-2 Vaccines,” detailed the arduous tasks he undertook in collaboration with Katalin Karikó, PhD, adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior vice president at BioNTech. Weissman and Karikó have been studying RNA for use in vaccines for more than 15 years and have dreamed about the seemingly endless possibilities for treating diseases with custommade mRNA, but for many of the early years they did so in complete obscurity and without any funding. Weissman and Karikó are the recipients of the 2021 LaskerDeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award that often precedes a Nobel Prize; and the 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the world’s largest science prize, among many other international awards. “The story of how Dr. Weissman and his collaborators maintained their focus and determination against formidable trials and tribulations is truly inspirational,” said Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Weissman and Karikó found a way to modify mRNA and later developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in fat droplets called lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), Brashear noted as she introduced Weissman.
Curious and Creative Weissman said he was “highly honored” to be asked to deliver the Harrington Lecture and be a part of the school’s 175th anniversary celebration. “Medical schools are the foundation of basic science research in our country, so I am here to support all of basic science research,” he said.
BUFFALO PHARMACY MAGAZINE | 2022 FALL 2022 UB MEDICINE
Weissman said he is often asked what are the most important attributes of a researcher. “My response is always that there is not a particular personality. You do not have to be an introvert. You do not have to be a particular type of person to be a researcher,” he said. “But I do believe that you have to be curious and you have to be creative. And you need a level of intelligence to be able to take the creativity and develop new things and figure out how to turn those into true therapeutics.” Somewhat unexpectedly, Weissman also likened research to the arcade game of “whack-a-mole.” “You’re bright enough and you are creative. What happens then is new ideas keep popping into your mind,” he said. “And the question is, ‘what do you do with these new ideas? How do you decide which ideas are good and deserve to be followed up on?’ Science is a game of whack-a-mole. It’s finding the right project and hitting it.”
Collaboration and Perseverance Weissman went on to lay out the basic timeline on mRNA therapeutics. “I always laugh because when I talk to lay audiences, I always hear comments like, ‘Oh, I am afraid of this vaccine because it was invented in 10 months.’ And I have to say, ‘Well, that is not exactly true’—mRNA was discovered in 1961. The first time it was injected into an animal was 1990.” Weissman said what followed was a lot of collaborative research efforts, including those of his with Karikó, which he said started around 1998. “It wasn’t a simple step. It wasn’t somebody found RNA, they stuck it into an animal, made a vaccine and they were done,” he said. “It was hundreds and hundreds of people and thousands of experiments that people did together to develop mRNA therapeutics.” Weissman said he first started working with Karikó after they met at a copy machine. “Back in those days, the only way you could read a journal article was to photocopy the journal,” he said. “And we both read a lot and we both fought over the copy machine so we started talking.” He said they soon started collaborating on their research, but did not receive any grant funding until 2007— almost 10 years of work without any funding. “Katie and I would work side-by-side in the lab. We did not have any technicians or postdocs helping us do this,” Weissman said. “Katie would make the RNA and I would add it to cells or give it to mice. We would sit and discuss the results.” It was not until 2019 and 2020 that grants started to come a lot easier, he noted.
“What that brings up is perseverance and my favorite quote from Winston Churchill about perseverance: ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’” Weissman said the duo’s “moment of success” occurred when the first Phase III clinical trials came out for mRNA vaccines and they showed nearly 95 percent efficacy and incredible safety. “This was our shining moment, that Katie and I were suddenly recognized for what we had spent 25 years working on,” he said.
Potential of mRNA Therapeutics Weissman said he wanted to focus on the future because that is what interests him the most. “Talking about the past is great, but I don’t have a great memory, so I am always forgetting the past,” he said. “But I am interested in the future. What the mRNA therapeutic landscape is useful for is that it is a platform, which means that it has an enormous number of potential uses. “We’re developing vaccines for some of the more critical diseases in the world, where previous vaccines have failed; things like malaria, hepatitis C, HIV and many others,” Weissman said. “But that’s not all that you can do with an RNA vaccine. We are developing vaccines for food and environmental allergens —for things like peanuts, dust mites and tree pollen.” Weissman said therapeutics are also being developed for autoimmune diseases and cancers. He said he is especially interested in mRNA therapeutics, which is the delivering of a protein to a cell of interest. “The big difference is that with RNA you can replace intracellular proteins, so these are proteins inside the cell—things like the CFTR gene, which is the defective gene in cystic fibrosis, and any other genetic deficiencies. We can deliver gene editing technology to fix broken genes,” Weissman said. “I’ve talked about all the vaccines we are developing, but I think mRNA therapeutics in the future is going to be even wider and have many more diseases that it can treat.” For the final slide in his presentation, Weissman said he needed to thank all of the people in his lab and all of the people in the labs he has collaborated with, so it included a list of the names of dozens of researchers who have worked on mRNA technologies. “Katie and I get a lot of awards for this, but we’re not the only people involved. There were many more researchers both before and after us.” Following Weissman’s talk, a panel of faculty experts joined him on stage for a Q&A session. They included Jennifer A. Surtees, PhD, moderator; Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD; Thomas A. Russo, MD; and Jonathan F. Lovell, PhD.
Photo by Joe Casio
Drew Weissman, MD, PhD
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LACKNER ELECTED TO ACADEMY OF BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE RESEARCH
Jeffrey M. Lackner, PsyD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine, has been elected to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR). Election to the ABMR is reserved for those with national and international behavioral medicine research excellence.
Much of Lackner’s research has explored irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a painful gastrointestinal disorder that is often poorly understood and treated unsatisfactorily with medications and diet changes. Lackner has received funding for his research from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health for more than two decades. His research has been distinguished by creativity, impact and boundary-breaking scientific discovery. “Our research has had a major impact on clinical practice across the world,” Lackner says. “Like many pain conditions, IBS used to be seen as a psychosomatic condition. If diagnostic testing like a colonoscopy did not reveal positive findings, patients’ physical symptoms were dismissed as a personal weakness or emotional problem. “Focusing solely on purely biological drivers increases the personal and economic costs of pain conditions like IBS,” he adds. “We have shown that IBS is no different than other chronic health conditions whose trajectory is influenced by lifestyle factors. This trajectory, however steep, can be reversed by adopting a broader, biopsychosocial approach and targeting the actionable behavioral factors that keep symptoms going, leading to very real and sustained pain relief. Our work has not only fleshed out this approach, but also the practical tools for how to reduce the cost and suffering that comes with refractory pain disorders like IBS.”
AUGUSTYNEK NAMED ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF OF STAFF Sarah Augustynek has been named assistant vice president/ chief of staff to the vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In this role she assists in developing and shaping policy, strategies for collaborations and overall operating principles. Augustynek is an attorney with more than 15 years of experience at the University at Buffalo, where she has focused on labor relations and health care compliance. Prior to joining the Jacobs School in February, she served as compliance officer for the School of Dental Medicine, where she successfully led quality assurance and risk management programs, while ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations and UB and SUNY policies and procedures. During her tenure at the dental school, Augustynek also served an interim role as assistant dean for administration, overseeing facilities, human resources, marketing and administrative operations. Augustynek also served as assistant director in UB’s Office of Employee Relations, providing expertise and legal guidance to
UB administration and department heads on matters related to collective bargaining agreements, HR policies and practices and federal and state employment and civil service law. She earned a JD with a concentration in health law from UB’s School of Law in 2006, and an MPH from UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions in 2007. She is the recipient of the 2006 American Bar Association Health Law Award and the 2006 University at Buffalo Activist Gavel Award. Augustynek Augustynek is admitted to practice law in New York State and holds certifications in health care compliance and health care privacy compliance from the Health Care Compliance Association.
A LEADER IN BIOMEDICAL INFORMATICS
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has received a highly competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH)National Library of Medicine (NLM) T15 Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Training Grant renewal, increasing the school’s capacity to prepare the next generation of biomedical informatics and data scientists.
Only a handful of U.S. organizations were selected for this prestigious award, which will provide approximately $2.5 million for an additional five years of full-time support for four doctoral students and four postdoctoral fellows in the school’s Biomedical Informatics program. This renewal marks the second consecutive five-year cycle of funding for this award since 2017. Many of the trainees are recipients of the 42 degrees and certificates that the Jacobs School’s pioneering Biomedical Informatics Graduate program has awarded since its inception in 2013. “We are thankful to have received another round of funding for this award that continues to support our program,” says Peter L. Elkin, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and primary investigator of the grant. “Our training program has been improving the nation’s ability to share interoperable data and to perform cutting-edge translational research for the last five years.” The Jacobs School was selected to host the 2022 NLM training grant meeting, which took place in June. More than 225 participants attended the two-day, in-person meeting, including NLM extramural programs director Richard Palmer, DrPH. “Under Dr. Elkin’s leadership, our Department of Biomedical Informatics has grown to be one of the top such programs in the nation,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School.
DUNN LEADS BUSINESS OPERATIONS Alfred Dunn has been named associate vice president for business operations at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dunn is a senior health care leader with more than 25 years of experience in academic medical centers. He joined UB in May from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, where he served as senior department administrator for the Department of Internal Medicine, the school’s largest department. In this role, he successfully managed clinical operations, budget and finance, human resources and multi-million dollar funding streams, consistently increasing revenues and containing operation costs. During his tenure, the department doubled in size.
Dunn has also served in senior administration roles at the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine, Scott & White Health, Emory Children’s Center and UB’s Department of Psychiatry. He earned a master’s of public administration and a master’s of business administration from Canisius College and is an alumnus of UB, where he earned a bachelor of arts in political science. He is also a certified medical practice executive and a graduate of Leadership Buffalo.
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WOLFE AND SCHWAITZBERG NAMED SUNY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORS Two faculty members in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have been appointed to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor—the highest faculty achievement in the SUNY system: Gil I. Wolfe, MD, UB Distinguished Professor and Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of the Department of Neurology; and Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery. The honor recognizes innovative research and teaching, as well as extraordinary community service. It also spotlights the international prominence of the faculty members in their respective fields. The rank is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor. Wolfe was named a distinguished professor and Schwaitzberg a distinguished service professor. Steven Schwaitzberg’s interests focus on sophisticated device development and simulation with novel, minimally invasive surgical technology. He is a leader in video/computer technology in the operating room and has a broad influence on the global surgical community as well as at UB, where he has led development of surgical skills and robotic surgery laboratories in the Jacobs School. A prolific researcher, Schwaitzberg has been the site principal investigator for numerous industry-sponsored clinical trials and co-PI on NIH and Department of Defense grants. Recently, he served as a co-investigator on an NIH grant to explore the use of virtual simulators in laparoscopy surgery training and credentialing. He also shares his expertise in endoscopic surgery as a collaborator on numerous grants. He holds four patents for his technical device development. Schwaitzberg’s numerous awards include a Distinguished Service Award from the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, a Health Policy Scholar Award from the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and being named a Master Educator in Surgery by the ACS; a teaching video he created for surgeons was awarded a Computerworld/National Smithsonian 21st Century Laureate Award for use of technology to produce beneficial changes for society. Gil Wolfe, an international leader in neuromuscular neurology, has made numerous seminal discoveries impacting the study and clinical care of neuromuscular disorders,
particularly myasthenia gravis, the most common disorder of neuromuscular transmission, the mechanism by which motor nerve signals are transmitted to muscle to create movement. Wolfe’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He served as clinical chair on a $8 million multicenter international study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, that confirmed the benefits of surgically removing the thymus gland over medical intervention alone in patients with generalized myasthenia gravis. Throughout his career, Wolfe has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 45 clinical trials. Currently, he is conducting clinical trials funded by NeuroNEXT— a multicenter consortium supported by the NIH—and the PatientCentered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), in addition to four industry-sponsored trials evaluating new pharmaceutical treatments for myasthenia gravis. Earlier this year, he was appointed to a four-year term on the Food and Drug Administration’s Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee. In 2015, Wolfe was honored as the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation’s Doctor of the Year, and in 2018, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
LEDDY RECEIVES STOCKTON KIMBALL AWARD John J. Leddy, MD ’85, clinical professor of orthopaedics and one of the foremost world leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of concussion, received the 2022 Stockton Kimball Award for outstanding scientific achievement and service. Leddy is medical director of the UB Concussion Management Clinic and director of outcomes research in the Department of Orthopaedics. He serves as concussion consultant to the Buffalo Bills football team and Buffalo Sabres hockey team. In addition, he is a clinical professor of rehabilitation sciences in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. Leddy’s early research resulted in a paradigm shift from what then was the standard approach for managing post-concussive symptoms (PCS)—strict, and sometimes prolonged, physical and brain rest until all symptoms resolve. His work is noteworthy in its emphasis on understanding the metabolic and neurophysiological changes that drive post-concussive symptoms and how aerobic exercise may reverse those effects. In 2006, Leddy’s work on concussion injury began to gain notice after he co-authored a study with his collaborator Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, on management of concussion and PCS and suggested a promising new direction for helping patients recover.
In 2010, Leddy was senior first author on a groundbreaking study of the sub-symptom threshold exercise training for PCS. This study was the first to demonstrate that treatment with controlled exercise was a safe program that appears to improve PCS symptoms when compared to notreatment baseline, and showed that a randomized controlled study was warranted to support development of new treatment guidelines. Leddy followed that study in 2011 Leddy with an assessment of an exercise treadmill protocol that proved reliable for identifying patients with worsening concussion symptoms. The Leddy team also established the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test (BCTT) to use in acute concussion and in PCS. Today, the BCTT, Bike Test, and the “Buffalo Protocol” for exercise evaluation and rehabilitation for sport-related concussion are used throughout the world to manage concussed patients.
CURTIS SELECTED AS PRESIDENT-ELECT OF APM Anne B. Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of medicine, has been selected to serve as president-elect of the Association of Professors of Medicine (APM). She assumed the role in July and will become president of the APM in July 2023. The APM is an organization of more than 100 chairs of Departments of Medicine in the U.S. and Canada that works to advance issues of importance to medical education and patient care. As a part of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM), the APM works to aid professional development and research in internal medicine. “It’s an honor to be selected among my peers, who are chairs of Departments of Medicine throughout the U.S.,” Curtis says. “We will cover topics that department chairs confront on a regular basis: recruitment and retention of faculty, the education of medical students and residents, the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on departments of medicine, challenges faced by women faculty, diversity, physician compensation plans, and so on.” Being in the APM president-elect position also places Curtis on the AAIM board of directors for the next three years.
“I am extremely pleased to see Dr. Curtis named to this important position. Department of Medicine chairs are responsible for monitoring a wide range of key issues,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “I am particularly interested in the work of this organization in the areas of diversity and inclusion and in advancing women’s leadership in medicine.”
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TEACHING WAYS TO DISPEL MEDICAL DISINFORMATION: UB RECEIVES COMPETITIVE AWARD FROM AAMC The University at Buffalo is one of five universities nationwide that has been awarded a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that supports teaching health sciences students how to dispel medical disinformation. The grants are part of a national strategic initiative developed by the AAMC with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and address medical misinformation and mistrust by educating health sciences students. In 2019, the World Health Organization had already identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global public health, and that was before the pandemic. “Achieving this national recognition is extraordinary for the University at Buffalo and an important step in stopping the spread of disinformation that negatively impacts efforts to combat COVID-19,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “Clinicians and learners across UB’s health sciences schools are uniquely positioned to work with their patients and public audiences to address health misinformation.” The goal of the UB project is to develop an interprofessional education (IPE) experience for all of UB’s health sciences students in the Jacobs School, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Nursing, School of Dental Medicine and School of Public Health and Health Professions. UB students will begin the new training program as a pilot starting this fall. “Educating our health professions students to approach conversations with patients about vaccine hesitancy using specific evidence-based strategies reduces variability and strengthens patient outcomes,” says Patricia J. Ohtake, PhD, assistant vice president for interprofessional education and associate professor of rehabilitation science in the School of Public Health and Health Professions. “Using an interprofessional approach ensures members of the healthcare team are consistent in their approach to discussing vaccine hesitancy and are able to support previous conversations patients may have had with other health care team members.” The UB project was developed by co-principal investigators Nicholas M. Fusco, PharmD, clinical associate professor in the
Department of Pharmacy Practice in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Alison M. Vargovich, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School. Health sciences students at UB will learn together with their peers from other professions about how they can work as a team to tackle medical misinformation and disinformation. “The idea is never to force a patient to change, in part because that doesn’t work,” Vargovich says, “but to learn how to have productive conversations that hopefully result in patients reconsidering their viewpoint, or at least being more open to continued discussion.” The goal is to ultimately improve trust between health professions students and the patients and communities they serve. A key step is providing trainees with a framework to approach these conversations effectively and respectfully. “It is a team effort to dispel medical misinformation and vaccine hesitancy,” says Fusco, “as well as a team effort to develop this educational innovation, which would not be possible without the creative expertise of our research team.” To read more about the project, visit https://medicine.buffalo. edu and search “medical disinformation.” — Ellen Goldbaum
2022 Igniting Hope Conference WORKING TO ELIMINATE RACE-BASED HEALTH DISPARITIES “When you look at who attends, it’s half community members and half university members, that is special and incredible,” adds Murphy, who is also director of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “It is so important for us as faculty and students to learn from the community firsthand about the root causes of health disparities to guide our work in these areas.”
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Keynote speakers included: •R ev. Dr. Heber Brown III, former pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, and founder of the Black Church Food Security Network, which advances food security and food sovereignty by co-creating Black food ecosystems anchored by Black congregations in partnership with Black farmers. •R uth S. Shim, MD, associate dean of diverse and inclusive education, Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry and director of cultural psychiatry, University of California, Davis, and co-editor of Social (In)Justice and Mental Health. Her research focuses on mental health disparities and inequities. •K eeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author, activist, Leon Forrest Professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and author of “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership.” Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements and racial inequality in the U.S. Breakout sessions focused on mental health; housing and economic development; food and nutrition; and senior services. To read more about the conference, visit https://medicine. buffalo.edu and search “Igniting Hope.” — Ellen Goldbaum © John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation- used with permission.
Now in its fifth year, the Igniting Hope Conference at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has received national attention for its work in addressing the social determinants of health and for serving as a catalyst for change. This year’s conference, held August 13, was needed more than ever, say organizers, who hoped that it would help provide a way for the community to heal and move forward after the devastating, racially motivated mass shooting on May 14 at Tops Market, in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. The 2022 conference focused on “Advocating in a New Reality: Breaking Barriers, Maintaining Resilience and Reconstructing a Community of Care.” It took place in the Jacobs School and on Zoom, was free, open to the public, and funded in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. One of the goals of this year’s event was to help channel the community’s response to the May 14 shooting. In a message to local organizations, Pastor George F. Nicholas of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force, one of the organizers, called the conference “a crucial tool we use to raise awareness about health equity.” “Along with our partner, the University at Buffalo, we brought national experts to engage in robust dialogue with local community leaders as we work to address the root causes that drive health disparities,” he says. “We promoted a public dialogue on health equity while advocating for real systems change, which will eliminate race-based health disparities.” Timothy Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director UB’s Community Health Equity Research Institute, concurs: “This trauma must strengthen our commitment to solve the underlying systemic problems that are directly responsible for the targeting of the East Side of Buffalo.
Jonathan Daniels, MD ’98, associate director of admissions, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
The Life and Legacy of Jonathan Daniels, MD ’98 School mourns the loss of a role model and leader Story by Dirk Hoffman Photos by Sandra Kicman
he late Jonathan D. Daniels, MD ’98, had a clear mission in life—to erase the term “underrepresented minorities in medicine” from the health care lexicon. As associate director of admissions at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, he was a tireless advocate for diversity—recruiting and mentoring hundreds of scholars from traditionally underserved backgrounds. And as one of the few Black physicians practicing in the city of Buffalo, he served as a role model to his pediatric patients in mostly Black and brown families as he provided care to multiple generations. Daniels died tragically in an early morning fire on July 4 at his North Buffalo home, along with his two adult daughters, Jensen; and Jordan, a 2022 graduate of the UB School of Management. He is survived by his wife, Janessa E. Givens Daniels, senior associate director in the UB Office of Financial Aid; and daughter, Jillian, a 2020 alumna of UB’s College of Arts and Sciences. Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, says Daniels’ death creates a huge void in the Jacobs School and beyond.
“He was a treasured colleague, physician, mentor and friend,” she says. “His absence has left an unfillable hole in our school and the Buffalo area communities. “We can honor him by advocating for change and helping to knock down the barriers to health equity,” Brashear says. “We all need to open our minds to ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the university.” Daniels was the first of his immediate family to graduate from college, but his journey was not along the traditional path. He paused his undergraduate studies to join the United States Army Reserve 365th Evacuation Hospital as a combat medic and served during Operation Desert Storm. After returning to Buffalo and receiving his undergraduate degree, he applied to UB’s medical school, but was wait-listed. Not to be deterred, Daniels enrolled in a newly created postbaccalaureate program whose aim was to diversify the physician workforce by guaranteeing medical school admission to everyone who successfully completed the program. It was created by the nonprofit Associated Medical Schools of New York, an organization Daniels worked closely with throughout his career to expand the pool of scholars pursuing careers in medicine and health care. The level of influence Daniels had on diversity initiatives and the admissions process at the Jacobs School cannot be overstated in the opinion of David A. Milling, MD ’93, executive director of its Office of Medical Education and a personal friend of Daniels for more than 20 years.
Juneteenth Celebration; left to right: DeVin Sanford, support specialist, Office of Medical Computing; Jonathan Daniels, MD; Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Gil Wolfe, MD, UB Distinguished Professor and Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of the Department of Neurology.
“There are many aspects of what he did, but then there is who he was. He was an upstanding family man with values, setting the example for everyone around him, not just the students, but colleagues and friends.” David A. Milling, MD ’93, executive director of the Office of Medical Education
“Because he came to medical school through the postbaccalaureate program, Jonathan understood the importance of pipeline programs helping Black and brown students in New York state,” Milling says. “He was a fierce advocate for helping to prepare students for medical school through that process.” Daniels “was an integral part of the team that helps to ensure that our students are successful,” says Milling. “He was an extremely level-headed, thoughtful consensusbuilder who was able to have the conversations that were sometimes emotional, but always helped us to reach consensus,” he says. Dori R. Marshall, MD ’97, associate dean and director of admissions at the Jacobs School, worked alongside Daniels on the school’s admissions committee before both were elevated to admissions leadership positions.
Jonathan Daniels, MD, having fun with Charles Lafargue, left, and Shyon Small, right, during last year’s Second Look Weekend, sponsored by the Jacobs School’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association. Both Lafargue and Small are currently members of the Class of 2026.
Rev. George Nicholas, above, pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and co-convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force. Daniels was a caring physician and role model for Nicholas’ four sons. “He established relationships with them, took the time to really talk to them not only as a physician, but as a Black man speaking to a Black boy, which is so important.”
“When I was asked if I would be interested in being director, I was also asked if I wanted an assistant director and I said ‘yes’ and immediately reached out to Jonathan,” she says. The two were instrumental in shaping the school’s transition to a more holistic review process—looking at more than the traditional metrics when considering medical school applicants. “We did everything together. We made decisions about the admissions committee and outreach to undergraduates,” Marshall says. “We developed the holistic process, helping committee members feel comfortable about stepping back from GPA and MCAT scores and looking much more holistically at applicants.” Marshall notes Daniels was passionate about connecting with Black and Hispanic high school and college students, who are underrepresented in medicine. “Jonathan had a way of connecting with students and making them feel comfortable and confident,” she says. “It was almost effortless. Once he was in a room with a group of students, he would smile at them, relax them and reassure them that he supported them and believed in them. And he told them if they wanted this, they could make it happen.” Data show the Jacobs School has made significant strides in increasing the number of underrepresented students in its medical school classes—23.75 percent of total admissions over the past four years have been students underrepresented in medicine, according to Marshall. Emmekunla K. Nylander, MD, ’96, says when Daniels was named associate director of admissions, “it was a monumental thing.” “To have a physician of color involved in a leadership role in admissions was huge. I have heard from incoming students who have said ‘wow, I interviewed with a Black doctor today who looked like me.’” she says. “That had such a huge impact on them. “Many of those students who are coming in now, I know he advocated for. The majority of underrepresented students in this year’s class are because of him,” Nylander says. The Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer, pastor of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and co-convener of the African American Health Equity
Task Force, served with Daniels on the Jacobs School’s Standing Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Learning Environment and says Daniels was masterful at asking “thoughtful, contemplated questions. “He would ask really insightful questions that would force you to think about what your answers are,” he says. “And he would simply sit quietly and wait for you to think about it and to respond. He was often out front of the rest of us.” Pointer says Daniels was also “incredibly intuitive, generous, and giving of his time and attention. “It did not matter who you were, if he thought you needed him, he found time for you,” he says. Pointer co-teaches a first-year elective at the Jacobs School called Health in the Neighborhood that addresses health inequities and disparities and is based in an underserved East Side neighborhood where students meet with community members and leaders. “I go out of my way to tell the students ‘you are not here by accident’ because sometimes when you are young, you can lose sight of the goal,” he says. “Dr. Daniels would say ‘forward.’ He would remind them you can’t get anywhere standing still.” Pointer says he would often find Daniels in the lunch area on the first floor of the Jacobs School building, not far from the Office of Medical Admissions. “He didn’t have to eat his lunch there, but he did that on purpose because he always wanted to be positioned, where if a student needed his help, he would be there,” he says. “This is my 42nd year in pastoral ministries, and I’m telling you I don’t Dori R. Marshall, MD ’97, associate meet a lot of Jonathan dean and director of admissions Danielses—they just don’t
“Jonathan had a way of connecting with students and making them feel comfortable and confident. It was almost effortless.”
Daniels attending the March for Our Lives in June 2022 following the murder of George Floyd. Pictured to his right is medical student Sydney Johnson.
“To have a physician of color involved in a leadership role in admissions was huge. I have heard from incoming students who have said ‘wow, I interviewed with a Black doctor today who looked like me.’” Emmekunla K. Nylander, MD, ’96, obstetrician and gynecologist
exist,” Pointer says. “And that is not an indictment of us as much as it is an acknowledgment of who Dr. Daniels was.” Beyond his influence in the Jacobs School, Daniels was beloved in the community for his work as one of only three Black male pediatricians practicing in the city of Buffalo. Raul Vazquez, MD ’89, president and CEO of Urban Family Practice, brought Daniels into his practice as medical director for pediatrics at the Jefferson Avenue location in May 2021 after Daniels worked for 19 years at Main Pediatrics. “When Jonathan was a medical student, he did a rotation through my practice on Niagara Street,” Vazquez says. “Over the years we always talked about him practicing with me so when the opportunity arose last year, I told him I had to hold him to his word. “I looked at it as a partnership-type relationship, not as an employee of mine,” he adds. “I brought him in to practice in the area of Jefferson Avenue which was important because there were not a lot of Black and brown providers in that area.” Vazquez, who recently completed a term as president of UB’s Medical Alumni Association, says Daniels “was a quiet builder who did a lot of things in the background.”
Daniels enjoying a laugh with Terence Clark, MD ’71, during a recent Reunion Weekend.
Nylander is an obstetrician-gynecologist in the community who knew Daniels since medical school, and would routinely refer patients to him. “We would often see each other at the hospital and converse about our shared patients,” she says. “He was taking care of a large population of our community, and I know he had a special relationship with all his patients and their parents. “To his patients, Jonathan was more than just their doctor,” Nylander adds. “He was a role model, somebody that they looked up to because we don’t see that a lot—people who look like us in those professions.” Javeena A. Edwards, MBA ’05, says Daniels cared for her son and two daughters and she always appreciated his thoroughness and cautious nature. “My oldest is 21 and he had been going to see Dr. Daniels for 19 years,” said Edwards, chief financial officer for Girl Scouts of Western New York. Edwards says it was important to her to have a physician of color for her children, and especially for her son, being a Black male, to see the potential he could achieve. “Dr. Daniels was always keen on education. He would ask my son what his thoughts were beyond high school, and I always appreciated that he had those conversations with him.” The Rev. George Nicholas, pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and co-convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force, says Daniels took special care as a pediatrician for his four sons. “He established relationships with them, took the time to really talk to them not only as a physician, but as a Black man speaking to a Black boy, which is so important,” he says. It is a rather cruel irony that the untimely death of a man who was relentless in advocating for diversity in medicine leaves a tremendous void in a community lacking in physicians of color. “The goal of everything we have done is to try and increase the number of Black and brown students that we have trained,” Milling
says. “We need to make sure that pipeline continues from medical school to residency here in Buffalo. “We need to try and keep those physicians here. That is a huge part of Jonathan’s legacy,” he adds. “We have to continue to build those bridges between undergraduate medical education and the transition to graduate medical education in Buffalo.” Marshall acknowledges the void Daniels’ death left in the community, but says UB has the building blocks in place to begin to address the issue, in no small part due to Daniels’ efforts. “The fact that we have so significantly changed the numbers of medical students currently in our school who are Black and Hispanic means that we have an opportunity to create an environment that welcomes them and keeps them interested in Buffalo for residency and for their careers beyond,” she says. “We have to create that climate that keeps our students interested in serving in our communities because we are building something wonderful,” Marshall says. “Jonathan would be so upset with us if we let that fall apart.” Nicholas says he greatly admired Daniels’ refusal to remain silent on issues of great importance such as racism.
“This is my 42nd year in pastoral ministries, and I’m telling you I don’t meet a lot of Jonathan Danielses— they just don’t exist. And that is not an indictment of us as much as it is an acknowledgment of who Dr. Daniels was.” Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer, pastor of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and co-convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force
“Sometimes when physicians or others gain professional prominence, they are hesitant to speak up on issues of race out of fear that it will impact their climb to whatever professional aspirations they may have,” he says. “But Jonathan was not like that at all. He spoke his mind. He spoke truth,” Nicholas says. “If it made some people uncomfortable, the solution was to resolve the issue. That often led to conversations. That will be greatly missed.” Milling says that based on who he was and growing up in Buffalo, Daniels “understood all of the nuances that were in place, especially during these last two or three years where we have had so much racial upheaval and turmoil in the country.” The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May 2020 and several other national events that summer stirred Jacobs School students to demand action. They drafted a resolution to “acknowledge and respond to the recent acts of race-based violence against Black people nationally” and an eight-page addendum with recommendations. Jacobs School faculty, staff and students would gather for several town hall meetings, moderated by Daniels, to discuss the school’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion.
“Jonathan was instrumental in helping us to craft a response to our students who had forwarded a resolution that expected the medical school to change and to act on many issues,” Milling says. As the Jacobs School recently embarked on developing a revised curriculum that includes anti-racism principles (see related article on page 24), Daniels was again in the forefront of the discussions. “In all the years I worked alongside him, I cannot recall a single instance of Jonathan being angry or raising his voice,” Pointer says. “After the George Floyd incident, I saw a brief period of sullenness, but I think it was just his disappointment in our human condition in America. “The students had some ideas about what the school needed to do, and he got right in, rolled up his sleeves and said, ‘let’s get to work,’” he says. And following the horrific tragedy on May 14, 2022, where 10 people were killed in a racially motivated shooting at a Tops market just a little more than a mile from the Jacobs School, Daniels again took a lead role, saying “we have to figure out what we need to do,” Pointer says. Although Daniels was steadfast in his educational mission, he also connected with the UB and Buffalo community through the role most dear to him—being a devoted family man. “There are many aspects of what he did, but then there is who he was,” Milling says. “He was an upstanding family man with values, setting the example for everyone around him, not just the students, but colleagues and friends.” Jennifer Britton, UB’s senior director of alumni and constituent engagement, worked with Daniels when he was president of the Medical Alumni Association and on many UB alumni events, and says he always brought his family along and praised them for their support whenever he spoke. “They were a proud UB family, and always came together to our events,” she says. “Their presence will be missed.” Nylander sums up her friend thusly: “He was truly a good man, husband, father, doctor, colleague, friend and brother. He was all that and more.” Milling says he will always remember Daniels for his consistent focus on improving the world around him. “He always wanted us to be better. There are so many ways that we can continue to do that to honor Jonathan’s legacy,” he says.
Jonathan D. Daniels, MD ’98 & Family Memorial Fund The Jonathan D. Daniels, MD ’98 & Family Memorial Fund has been established to support students of color and others who have been historically underrepresented in medicine. Gifts to the fund can be made online at https://buffalo.edu/campaign/ DanielsMemorialFund, or by calling toll free 1-855-GIVE-2-UB. Mailed donations should be directed to: University at Buffalo Foundation Inc., c/o Jonathan D. Daniels, MD ’98 & Family Memorial Fund, PO Box 730, Buffalo, NY 14226-0730.
Compassion and Concern for Students The heartfelt compassion and genuine concern the late Jonathan D. Daniels, MD, exhibited for students was evident to anyone who knew him. Bryan Velez, a second-year medical student from Colombia who grew up in New York City, first met Daniels as a UB undergraduate. “He came to an awards banquet and introduced himself to me and some of my classmates,” he says. “He asked us if anyone needed advice or help with getting into medical school.” Velez told Daniels one thing he was struggling with was finding physicians to shadow. “He said, ‘no problem,’ and he let me shadow him all summer,” says Velez, vice president of UB’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association. After Velez graduated with a degree in pharmacology and toxicology, he returned home to take a gap year before applying to medical school. But one year turned into two because Velez started to have doubts about his ability to become a doctor. “During those gap years, Dr. Daniels would call to check on me and make sure I was doing well,” he says. “He did a great job encouraging me; he basically believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” Velez says. “When I finally got into medical school, so much of it was thanks to him because he kept pushing me.” Aswad Lemar Jackson, MD ’22, is a textbook example of how the pipeline programs for minority students are designed to work. Born and raised in Mississippi, he attended Tougaloo College and gained early acceptance to the Jacobs School through the Early Opportunity Program in Medicine. Before starting medical school, he and his father attended the Student National Medical Association’s Second Look Weekend to get acquainted with the school and city of Buffalo.
“It was my first interaction with Dr. Daniels. Coming from Mississippi to Buffalo was a big transition, so he was very pivotal in helping me.” Aswad Lemar Jackson, MD ’22 Photo by Douglas Levere
The annual event provides an opportunity for accepted underrepresented students to take a closer look at the school during a spring weekend of events designed especially for them. Daniels played a major role, ensuring there were sufficient resources and making sure alumni were involved. “It was my first interaction with Dr. Daniels. Coming from Mississippi to Buffalo was a big transition, so he was very pivotal in helping me,” Jackson says. Jackson adds that in addition to being an invaluable mentor throughout medical school, Daniels also taught him many life lessons. “I got married in December and he would give me advice about the ‘do’s and don’ts in marriage,” he says. “Our relationship was not confined to the Jacobs School. He was just a great person in general —very genuine, encouraging and always smiling.” Jackson, who currently is in a rural family medicine residency program at Louisiana State University in Bogalusa, Louisiana, says the pipeline approach to
attracting underrepresented students to medical school needs to be expanded and supported financially, beginning at the middle school and high school levels. “It also falls on us as physicians of color. The idea of reach as you climb,” he says. “We cannot become complacent. We need to be reaching back and allowing our influence to have an impact.” Jackson says Black physicians should be going into schools to talk to students. “We need to open up the idea that you can aspire to be something other than a pro athlete or a rapper to be successful,” he says. Oftentimes, it’s a case of “if you don’t see it, you can’t be it,” Jackson says. “Young Blacks often just don’t believe it’s possible,” he adds. “If they don’t see any Black physicians, they think that is the norm. Breaking down those barriers is critical.”
“Your Community Is Here for You” Opioid use disorder program being modeled nationwide By Ellen Goldbaum and David Hill
Less than a decade ago, the standard of care for treating patients with opioid use disorder in emergency departments was, for the most part, ineffective. Those experiencing withdrawal were typically given non-narcotic drugs, which did little to assuage their symptoms, and, at discharge, were handed a list of phone numbers for treatment clinics. Sometimes patients later discovered that the phone numbers were incorrect.
A member of the Erie County Opioid Task Force, Lynch then approached regional clinic directors to see if they would agree to see a few patients each week who had started buprenorphine in the emergency department at Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Medical Center or Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, teaching affiliates of the Jacobs School. “I was doing this on a case-by-case basis,” says Lynch, who explains that he was making the phone calls himself to the clinic directors. Soon, it became clear that a more systematic approach was needed.
A MODEL PROGRAM IS BORN
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, left, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, listens as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region 2 Director Dara Kass, MD, speaks at the roundtable with Buffalo MATTERS leadership and community health partners. Photo by Sandra Kicman
“Emergency departments are the safety net for the medical system, so they are a critical point of entry for these patients,” says Joshua J. Lynch, DO, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a physician with UBMD Emergency Medicine. “When patients come to us in withdrawal, we need to be able to help control their symptoms and quickly transition them to community clinics. We knew we weren’t doing a great job with either step, but there weren’t many good alternatives out there.” That concern motivated Lynch to seek a solution. In 2015, he and his colleagues read a paper by physicians at Yale University that proved pivotal to their efforts. It reported that patients going through withdrawal who were given the opioid treatment buprenorphine in the emergency department and provided with a clinic appointment were more likely to have reduced their opioid use and remained in treatment a month later. “When we saw that, we wanted to do it here,” Lynch recalls. It wasn’t simple. The first step required emergency medicine providers to undergo training mandated by New York State for anyone administering buprenorphine, a controlled substance. After encouraging fellow providers to complete the training, Lynch and his colleagues developed a standardized approach for evaluating and managing patients.
“It wasn’t sustainable,” says Brian Clemency, DO, professor of emergency medicine at the Jacobs School, who began partnering with Lynch at that time. “We needed a framework.” That framework developed into what today is MATTERS (Medication for Addiction Treatment and Electronic Referrals), an innovative, cost-effective program that provides medicationassisted treatment to opioid use disorder patients and rapidly transitions them into long-term treatment at a community clinic, all within about 48 hours. The program, initially named Buffalo MATTERS, eventually grew to encompass the eight counties of Western New York. During this transitional time, it received critical seed funding from local foundations, starting with a pilot project grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation in 2017. The following year, Blue Fund of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York awarded the program a $200,000 grant that supported efforts to train emergency department providers and to recruit community clinics to treat patients discharged from the departments. In 2019, Lynch received additional funding to expand the project statewide. This was accomplished primarily through the development of an online referral platform housed on a secure communications system that the Department of Health (DOH) operates, with Lynch serving as technical advisor.
“We are committed to training the next generation of physicians to be patientcentered. This means understanding what patients and families need in terms of comprehensive team-based care— and MATTERS is a great example of this.” Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
The online system streamlines referrals to community based, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) providers and allows them to provide ongoing care for those started on MAT in the emergency department. It also supports access to resources for providers and captures valuable outcomes data to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Lynch and his colleagues also developed an app for Apple and Android devices that emergency medicine providers throughout the state can use to link patients to resources and long-term care, regardless of the patients’ health history or insurance status. Their work on the app was supported by funding from the UB Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions. Designed to remove as many barriers to care as possible, MATTERS also provides round-trip transportation vouchers for the first clinic visit and offers a medication voucher program to cover the cost of a buprenorphine prescription for up to 14 days. The vouchers are redeemable at more than 1,000 public and privately owned pharmacies statewide, including CVS, Walgreens and Wegmans.
MATTERS now partners with over 160 community-based clinics, 1,000 pharmacy locations statewide and nearly 100 hospitals. It also offers an average of 1,700 appointment slots each week to patients seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. Last fall, the New York State Department of Health provided funding to hire an additional nine regional care coordinators for MATTERS. The coordinators are working to facilitate the expansion of the program beyond hospitals to nontraditional care settings—including law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities and pre-hospital settings—in specific regions in the state.
INTEREST AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL The program’s success has not gone unnoticed. This spring, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 2 Director Dara Kass, MD, visited the Jacobs School to meet with Lynch and his colleagues, as well as Jacobs School administrators. Kass—an emergency medicine physician by training whom President Joe Biden appointed as HHS Region 2 director in November 2021—oversees HHS operations in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was in Buffalo for a few days to convene stakeholder meetings with partners aligned with HHS health priorities, which include treatment for opioid use disorders. Kass was impressed by the level of integrated care MATTERS provides patients and said that President Biden fully endorses such efforts. “This administration is committed to supporting programs that get medication into the hands of patients who need it,” Kass said.
“I am grateful to be here with you. I am grateful to everyone working together and providing an incubator and a pilot for what I hope to help communicate to the rest of the country,” she added. Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the Jacobs School, who attended the meeting, praised the work Lynch and his colleagues have done in expanding MATTERS across New York State. “We are so proud of what has been created here,” she said, adding that UB’s breadth of health sciences schools and their associated educational and research opportunities uniquely position UB among other schools nationally, especially when it comes to treating conditions such as opioid use disorder. “We are committed to training the next generation of physicians to be patient-centered,” Brashear said. “This means understanding what patients and families need in terms of comprehensive teambased care—and MATTERS is a great example of this.” The roundtable discussion included several Jacobs School faculty members affiliated with MATTERS, as well as key community health partners, such as Evergreen Health Services, Horizon Health Services and BestSelf Behavioral Health. Additional partners present included Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould and representatives from Albany Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Also in attendance were representatives from three New Jersey organizations with which MATTERS is forging a partnership as the program continues its expansion: Cooper Health, the New Jersey Department of Human Services and the New Jersey Department of Health. Lynch and his colleagues are also working to make the program available to people who are incarcerated, and through obstetrics and gynecology offices to treat pregnant women who are opioid users. They have been contacted by cities throughout New York State and beyond that are interested in starting programs similar to MATTERS and have presented on the subject to international audiences.
“One of the most unbelievably empowering things for a patient who’s used to being told what to do, is handing them an iPad and saying, ‘Here are all the places that you can go tomorrow to be seen; you tell us where you want to go.” Brian Clemency, DO, professor of emergency medicine
At the roundtable with HHS, Clemency described how UB physicians created a standardized dose of buprenorphine that emergency room doctors can administer to patients who are in withdrawal. If patients aren’t experiencing withdrawal, then they are given instructions on how to administer buprenorphine at home once they begin having severe withdrawal symptoms. Before being discharged from the emergency departments, patients are provided an iPad that shows them the options they have for a community clinic to attend.
“One of the most unbelievably empowering things for a patient who’s used to being told what to do, is handing them an iPad and saying, ‘Here are all the places that you can go tomorrow to be seen; you tell us where you want to go,’” Clemency said.
“Patients in withdrawal who drive to the emergency room because they know they need help are looking for a way to get better.” Joshua J. Lynch, DO, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine
TELEMEDICINE INTRODUCED In 2020, COVID-19 presented yet another barrier to treatment for patients with opioid use disorder, as emergency departments were swamped with people severely ill with the virus. In another demonstration of its commitment to removing barriers to care, MATTERS developed virtual emergency departments staffed by UBMD emergency medicine physicians in Kaleida Health hospitals and at Erie County Medical Center. As a result, patients can be prescribed buprenorphine and receive a MATTERS referral without ever presenting in person to the emergency department. Patients referred through this telemedicine partnership are offered the same harm- and barrierreduction resources as individuals presenting to an emergency department in person. Many clinic partners also offer virtual appointments, as well as other harm-reduction services, such as syringe-exchange programs and treatment for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Lynch emphasizes that the MATTERS program serves as an integral resource to connect patients to outpatient programs that will best meet their needs while not overwhelming already challenged emergency departments.
ENSURING CONTINUITY OF CARE Policymakers are interested. Both houses of the New York State Legislature are considering passing legislation that would require the kind of medication-assisted treatment that has been initiated by MATTERS. “MATTERS is already helping substance use disorder patients in 20% of the hospitals in New York State,” says Robert McCormack, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Jacobs School and president of UBMD Emergency Medicine, who testified at the New York State Assembly last year. “The ‘warm handoff bill’ will mandate this expediting of treatment for hospitals across the state.” Lynch adds: “The bill requires warm connections to treatment providers, which is what the MATTERS program does. MATTERS is what the warm handoff looks like.”
Buffalo MATTERS founder and medical director Joshua Lynch, MD, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine and a physician with UBMD Emergency Medicine speaking to the roundtable. Photo by Sandra Kicman
MATTERS was designed to work in any size hospital, Lynch points out. “We designed it to work just as well in a 500-bed hospital as in a critical access community hospital staffed by a physician assistant and two nurses. “Patients in withdrawal who drive to the emergency room because they know they need help are looking for a way to get better,” he continues. “Thanks to MATTERS, these patients can now leave the emergency department, not only with buprenorphine in hand for their symptoms, but also a treatment plan and a convenient follow-up clinic appointment within 48 hours—usually in their own neighborhood. There’s probably nothing that more powerfully says to them, ‘your community is here for you and we want to help you.’” An early enrollee in MATTERS succinctly summed up how the program affected him: “They were in my corner before I was in my own corner.” MATTERS is currently funded by private foundations and government agencies, including the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and others. For more information, visit https://mattersnetwork.org/
Surgical Resident Receives
Citizen Honors Award
One of the highest civilian awards in the U.S.
By Bill Bruton
When Aaron Epstein, MD, a trainee in UB’s general surgery residency program, received a call earlier this year informing him that he was being awarded the prestigious 2022 Citizen Honors Award for Service, he thought it was a spam call. “I was in Ukraine at the time and saw a number come up from the U.S. I usually don’t answer phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but this time I did and figured ‘I’ll see what the telemarketer has to say.’ I picked it up and heard, ‘Congratulations you’ve won this award.’” To Epstein, it sounded more like a Publishers Clearing House commercial, so he ignored it. “Then they called again, and I thought OK maybe it’s something real,” Epstein says. “I remember talking to the representative over the phone and saying ‘sure, right, whatever,’ and it didn’t really register. So it took a while to come across as something legit.”
CARE AROUND THE WORLD The national award, which is overseen by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society that represents living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is one of the highest civilian awards in the U.S. It recognizes those who distinguish themselves by their service or an act of heroism. Epstein founded the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (GSMSG) in 2015 while a medical student at Georgetown University and serves as president of the organization. The GSMSG started out sending U.S.-trained physicians to conflict zones to treat patients in places like Iraq and Syria and provide medical care and training when local health care systems were overwhelmed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization also operated stateside, erecting mobile clinics to aid in the fight against the coronavirus and staffing field hospitals that went up in New York City during the initial wave of the pandemic. Earlier this year, Epstein and a team of doctors from GSMSG spent time training Ukrainian fighters and civilians in combat care.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society cited “Epstein’s commitment to providing medical relief to communities in conflict zones, austere environments and disaster areas around the world.”
NIMBLE AND EFFICIENT “At the time, I had recently been in the Middle East. It seemed groups would come and go and they would dump some supplies and take their photo op and leave,” recalls Epstein, who earned a master’s degree in intelligence and security studies at Georgetown in 2012 and worked in national security for a few years before entering medical school. “I remember thinking if we could get a couple of real doctors here, that would be great. All I anticipated from the beginning was finding a way to bring a couple of doctors into conflict areas. I was really just looking for four to 10 people to go with me to these areas,” he adds. From that modest start, the organization has grown to 1,500 volunteer surgeons and special operations veterans ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. “We’re very nimble and efficient as a group. We’re more of a cloud organization than a brick-and-mortar group that has offices all over and has to maintain a massive administrative budget,” Epstein explains. “If there’s an emergency somewhere in the world, or there’s a trip coming up somewhere, I send a message to the team and say, ‘If you’re available, let’s meet at this date and time at this airport, and I’ll take it from there.’” Epstein, 37, isn’t one for hoopla, but he’s grateful for anything that helps the organization. “I’m not one for awards. My ultimate goal is to do as much work on the ground in these countries as possible,” he says. “The award doesn’t mean much unless it helps the organization. If it gives more visibility to our program and it helps us in some way with our work, that’s great.” His organization is making a positive difference in so many ways. For example, with Muslim patients it is preferrable for a
“Dr. Schwaitzberg has been uniquely supportive of all of these global surgery efforts. That’s why I chose to come to UB. I’ve been very fortunate.” Aaron Epstein, MD
healthcare professional conducting a physical exam to be the same sex as the patient. “What we started doing is bringing over female military veteran medical professionals and we started training Iraqi and Kurdish women and girls on how to be medical providers. Every couple of months we would come back to Iraq and we’d see women come to our courses and when we came back they’d say ‘my family knows I can take care of them and watch out for their well-being,’” Epstein says. “Then they’d take another one of our courses and we’d come back the next year and now the community feels like they are real health care providers and can provide care to the community around them. We saw the place of women in these societies change from just being in the home to becoming trusted medical providers. It’s very empowering.” He sees a difference in some of the ex-military members who have joined the group as well. “You get these guys who are elite special forces and leave the military and they come back to the U.S. and suddenly they’re no longer a special forces elite medic. They’re doing a job where they feel they aren’t making a difference, and that can exacerbate PTSD,” Epstein says. “Then they come with our team and they’re with a whole bunch of special forces men and women again, and they get to go overseas and deploy with a team. You can almost see a 180 degree change in these people’s mindsets. They’re a whole new person. We see a lot of that. It’s very rewarding in terms of our work.”
Epstein, who is in his fourth year as a resident in the Department of Surgery, doesn’t know if he’d be able to do what he’s doing in any other surgical residency program in the country, and gives a lot of credit to Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the department. “Dr. Schwaitzberg has been incredibly supportive. Everyone I talk to, whether it’s attendings or residents of other programs, they’re all like, ‘How are you able to do this?’” Epstein says. “Dr. Schwaitzberg has been uniquely supportive of all of these global surgery efforts. That’s why I chose to come to UB. I’ve been very fortunate.”
DEDICATED TO HUMANITARIAN CARE “Aaron Epstein is one of those unique individuals whose supreme dedication to the cause of humanitarian care serves as an exemplar to us all,” said Schwaitzberg, himself a veteran of the Gulf War. “He is unselfish and willing to go to some of the most difficult places on earth to help those who need medical and surgical care. There is no doubt he will continue to have a remarkable career.” Epstein has put a positive spotlight on the entire Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Dr. Epstein’s passion for delivering critical care to communities in crisis around the world, and leading others to do the same, is an inspiration to everyone at the Jacobs School and the entire UB community,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. Epstein’s residency is taking longer than normal—he hopes to complete it after the next academic year—but that’s OK with him. He’s doing what he loves—and making a difference.
Diabetes Care By Ellen Goldbaum and Megan Veirs
$1 million grant from Helmsley Charitable Fund expands care for children
hen Ryan Morlock’s seven-year-old daughter, Charlotte (“Charlie”), was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year ago, she said she was “dumbfounded.”
“I knew nothing about it before Charlie was diagnosed; I mean, I knew some people who had it, but I had never asked questions.” Today Morlock and her husband, Michael, have lots of questions, but they also have certified diabetes care and education specialists available to answer them via text, email, phone or telehealth visits. The South Buffalo family has access to these resources through a new program at UB that provides “virtual” support to children with Type 1 diabetes and their parents in an effort to help achieve better control of blood sugar levels. The program confronts the fact that a majority of children living with Type 1 diabetes in the United States are not meeting their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) goals, a measure of average blood sugars, and a leading indicator of both short- and long-term disease state complications. Current research indicates that this trend is particularly prevalent in underserved communities. In an effort to address this problem, pediatric endocrinologists at UBMD Pediatrics and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have launched a collaboration to provide remote care management and physiological monitoring for children living with Type 1 diabetes. The team is evaluating the financial viability of providing these services as well as their impact on diabetesrelated outcomes. A $1.43 million grant awarded to UBMD Pediatrics from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is making this program possible. Despite recognition of the benefits of remote care programs that deliver support in between physician visits, most primary care and specialty providers lack the financial resources to deploy them effectively. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gaps among underserved communities primarily due to limited access to remote care services and community-based resources. By working with Cecelia Health, a “virtual-first health care provider,” UBMD Pediatrics is supplementing the in-person patient care it provides with care from an experienced remote diabetes
and chronic care management team. Cecelia Health provides patients with a spectrum of support in managing their diabetes to ease the daily burden, help improve health outcomes and free up care resources for providers. A key goal of the program is to explore how improving access to remote support and the internet to manage chronic conditions will improve outcomes. In particular, the program is examining whether access to fully supported cellular-enabled tablets and remote counseling enables patients to take full advantage of their existing diabetes technologies, such as continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. In return, this should improve A1c levels and reduce hospital admissions for diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that develops when the body doesn’t have enough insulin to allow blood sugar into cells for use as energy. “Using telehealth to improve care of youth with Type 1 diabetes is at the forefront of clinical care,” says Lucy Mastrandrea, MD, PhD, professor and chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology/ Diabetes at the Jacobs School and UBMD Pediatrics. “We expect to show that utilizing diabetes care specialists to deliver virtual support and education to our patients and families is financially sustainable. We are also taking this further by studying the clinical outcomes of patients with limited internet access who are provided tablets with cellular service and full technical support.” “Our Division of Pediatric Endocrinology/Diabetes cares for about 1,000 patients with diabetes,” says Kathleen Bethin, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study and clinical professor of pediatrics at the Jacobs School. “We have many years of experience with both basic and clinical research to improve the lives of our patients.” Cecelia Health has worked with several university and hospital diabetes specialty clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the support of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, we were fortunate to leverage the expertise of Cecelia Health and its team of specialists
The Morlock family, from left: Charlotte (“Charlie”) in the foreground; Ryan holding son, Austin; Michael holding son, Landon; and Kaleb, right.
to provide telehealth support services to our diabetes patients who were unable to be seen in-person at regular intervals,” says Bethin, also a member of UBMD Pediatrics’ Division of Endocrinology/Diabetes. Additionally, the researchers are interested to see how video care support along with improved ability to share data from pumps and blood glucose devices compares to phone-only support. For the Morlock family, the impact of the program has been immediate and positive. Charlie visits Mastrandrea, her UBMD endocrinologist, every three months, and in between visits, she and her family have the team at Cecelia Health to look to for guidance and support in addition to monthly telehealth appointments. “It’s very helpful,” Morlock says. “It’s nice to have extra hands. We have four children and Charlie is our only girl, so she’s taking it all in and loving the attention when it comes to having extra resources. When I don’t know the answer, it’s amazing to be able to reach out for help because it definitely Ryan Morlock takes a village these days.” Morlock explains that working with their Cecelia Health contact, they have “come up with a game plan to essentially make Charlie’s numbers steady because she’s had a lot of ups and downs with everything. She’s very, very active. She’s in dance and soccer and she’s outside all the time with her brothers, but there are times, like yesterday, when her numbers were high for the majority of the day and it took a lot to bring them down.” For the telehealth visits, Morlock says “Charlie is there, present and speaking.” In addition, the team at Cecelia Health has secure access to data on Charlie’s insulin pump and can further monitor
her glucose levels. “So, it’s like she’s standing right there in front of them,” Morlock notes. The Helmsley Charitable Trust, the funder of this project, is one of the largest private foundation funders of Type 1 diabetes research in the nation. “Telehealth has the unparalleled ability to meet patients where they are, but for these services to be used, they must be reimbursed properly” says Sean Sullivan, PhD, program officer for the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes (TD1) Program. “This innovative work aligns with our goal at Helmsley to better understand the impact and viability of programs that can expand access to quality care for all people with Type 1 diabetes, regardless of their zip code.” The grant will support this collaboration for three years. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Its Type 1 Diabetes Program is focused on understanding the disease, developing better treatments and improving care and access in the U.S and low- and middle-income countries. For more information on Helmsley and its programs, visit helmsleytrust.org. To learn more about how to support children with Type 1 diabetes through medical discovery and advances at the Jacobs School, contact Kathy M. Swenson, senior director of advancement, at email@example.com or by calling 716-829-5052.
“When I don’t know the answer, it’s amazing to be able to reach out for help because it definitely takes a village these days.”
S.A. Unger contributed to this article.
New Curriculum Addresses Racism in Medicine Societal events and student petition galvanize changes By Ellen Goldbaum
A revised medical curriculum at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences— set to launch in 2023—will have anti-racism principles embedded in its core. Catalyzed in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by the George Floyd murder and the global protests that followed, the evolving new curriculum is a result of the profound reckoning that these events forced upon those studying and practicing medicine. “I have never seen so much willingness to change,” notes Margarita Dubocovich, PhD, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and one of four co-chairs of the Diversity, Inclusion and Learning Environment Committee. “This is the moment. This is the opportunity.” While issues such as the social determinants of health have been part of the Jacobs School’s orientation and required courses, it was a student-written document and petition submitted in June 2020 that launched the comprehensive efforts now underway.
An emphasis on anti-racism is changing the way students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are learning medicine. Pictured in Gross Anatomy Lab are, from left: Kyle Kenyon, Joshua Kent, Ali Khan, Brianna Kinley, Class of 2026. Photo by Sandra Kicman
STUDENT PETITION “The student petition changed the urgency,” recalls Linda Pessar, MD, former director of the Center for Medical Humanities and now professor emerita of psychiatry. “It demanded that the medical school quickly increase its attention to structural racism and social justice, to look at the ways that the curriculum creates and perpetuates racism by not attending to differences among people.” Former Dean Michael E. Cain, MD, mandated that the requested changes be fast-tracked. His successor, Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, has redoubled those efforts. “Medical education at the Jacobs School is undergoing fundamental changes addressing structural racism in medicine in an effort that was initially inspired by our students,” says Brashear, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, who came to UB in December 2021. “That fact speaks volumes about the depth of commitment that our students bring to this work collectively as they partner with faculty to achieve health equity in every aspect of patient care.” Recommendations included providing racial and socioeconomic context behind longstanding health issues in African American communities and directly acknowledging the effects of systemic racism and the threat of police violence on the physical health of
people of color. They included teaching students how to be effective patient advocates and providing instruction in the history of anti-Blackness, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized communities, and how these issues have affected medicine and how it’s taught. The petition also addressed increasing the diversity of faculty and staff, a goal to which the university as a whole has committed through President Satish K. Tripathi’s Advisory Council on Race. Administrators acknowledge that such diversity is sorely lacking at the medical school, but that change is coming with new diversity requirements for search committees and an emphasis on holistic interviewing. It is well-documented that having more diversity among instructors benefits all students and faculty, and that mentoring is key, a premise taken for granted throughout the medical and biomedical professions.
COMPREHENSIVE CASE REVIEW A key focus for curricular change are the patient cases that students are exposed to, both in the classroom and in the clinic, either with standardized patient volunteers or in the community with preceptors. “We are taking a look at the entire inventory of cases across the curriculum,” says Jennifer Meka, PhD, associate dean for medical education and director of the Jacobs School’s Medical Education and Educational Research Institute. Faculty have been revising and editing cases and discussing ways to encourage students to reflect on implicit bias and structural racism. “It really is a systemic look at the entire curriculum,” adds Alan J. Lesse, MD, senior associate dean for medical curriculum, who, with Meka, co-chairs the curricular revision subcommittee. An early, critical change was the decision in fall 2020 to subscribe to a database that specializes in dermatological manifestations of disease and features a broad spectrum of representation, including many people of color. Traditionally, most cases have featured patients who are white men aged 40-55, without any mention of race or economic orientation. “We are working on guidelines to revise cases to better reflect the diverse population our local students will be working with,” Meka explains. “The goal is to develop the cultural humility and advocacy skills that are required for practicing medicine, to examine the intersectionality of race and its impact on health and wellness. We are also training our faculty facilitators to talk with students about how to raise issues related to social determinants of health, incorporating respect for other cultures in their interactions with patients.”
MORE DIVERSE ‘STANDARDIZED’ PATIENTS The Clinical Practice of Medicine course, which students take during their first two years, is a key focus. It relies on volunteers from the community who are trained to act as “standardized” patients with specific medical symptoms, who are then diagnosed by medical students. “Most standardized patients are white,” says Tatiana AmayeObu, a member of the Class of 2024. “I had my first non-white patient last year in my second semester, but some students have never had a non-white standardized patient.”
Diversifying the pool of standardized patients will be challenging. “Minority communities are already distrusting of medicine,” Amaye-Obu says. “So in order to improve that, we have to go out into the community and truly explain what we’re doing. That’s the whole point of doing standardized patients: caring for others in the future.” Toward that end, the school introduced the Health in the Neighborhood course as a pilot elective in 2018. The course pairs medical students with members of the Hopewell Baptist Church congregation in Buffalo. The goal of the course is for students to become familiar with the realities of medical disparities and how they affect individuals. “The intent of the course was to explore the effect of racism on the Black community and to engage with the African American community,” says David Milling, MD ’93, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education.
“Most standardized patients are white. I had my first non-white patient last year in my second semester, but some students have never had a non-white standardized patient.” Tatiana Amaye-Obu, Class of 2024
“It had little to do with us providing care, but instead had to do with listening to the community, to finding out what are the barriers to providing care and how can we be better physicians,” adds Milling, who established the course with Pessar, Henry Louis Taylor Jr., PhD, professor of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning and director of UB’s Center for Urban Studies, and community leaders Pastor Kinzer Pointer of Agape Baptist Fellowship Church and Pastor Dennis Lee of Hopewell Baptist Church. The course has now been expanded to include a clinical component, blending what students are learning in the classroom with culturally sensitive interviewing as they work with clinical preceptors in underserved communities. Instructors throughout the school have been incorporating anti-racism into their courses, not only for those pursuing medical degrees, but also for those in undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical sciences. Jennifer Surtees, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, and David Dietz, PhD, chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, have explicitly integrated anti-racism into their ethics course, Introduction to Scientific Investigation and Responsible Conduct (BMS 514LEC). One component of the class engages students in addressing the attitude—still prevalent among some scientists—that “we don’t need to discuss this in science.”
Jennifer Meka, PhD, center, associate dean for medical education and director of the Jacobs School’s Medical Education and Educational Research Institute, helps review all of the cases that comprise the medical curriculum to better reflect a diverse patient population. Photo by Douglas Levere
Tatiana Amaye-Obu, Class of 2024 Photo by Sandra Kicman
David Milling, MD, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education. Photo by Sandra Kicman
Students urged school administrators to work to alleviate the burden on students of color who are affected by structural racism while also serving as the primary leaders of diversity and inclusion efforts. These efforts led to establishment of the Social Justice and Equity Administration Leadership fellowships, launched last year by the Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement. Funded initially by the Jacobs School’s Office of the Dean, the fellowships give medical and biomedical sciences graduate students a chance to work on specific projects that address social, educational or health care inequities while providing $3,500 each in scholarships, as well as funding for travel expenses. Five fellowships were awarded in the first round and topics ranged from assessing the impact of the Health in the Neighborhood course and improving vaccine equity in communities of color, to developing a curriculum on the history of racism and ways to improve the learning environment for members of the LGBTQ+ community. And while the institution has clearly embraced these changes, Lesse notes, they all still need to fit into the medical curriculum.
“The question is, we have four years right now to develop students into physicians,” Lesse says. “What do they need to learn when? These changes will make them much more aware of their roles as physicians in society.” That is especially true in the required first-year course, Medicine and Society, which focuses on the physician’s role. The course has been redesigned with a stronger emphasis on health inequities. James N. Jarvis, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics, who is of Akwesasne Mohawk ancestry and has worked on American Indian and Alaska native child health issues for more than 30 years, has addressed the class. He told the students: “You can’t just say to Indigenous groups: ‘We’re here to help, this is what we think you ought to do.’ Instead, you need to spend time with them. Ask them what they think. Sit down with these communities. Be humble and listen.” These principles, now an integral part of the Jacobs School curriculum, will ultimately benefit not just the individual students being educated, but also, by extension, all of the communities where they will eventually practice.
What the Community Has to Teach Diversity research mentorship project has a surprise beginning By Ellen Goldbaum A summer program launched in 2020 by the Department of Surgery and designed to encourage underrepresented medical students to pursue surgery turned into a dramatic learning opportunity, for both the students and the department. The Summer Diversity Research Mentorship program was established as part of the department’s Anti-Racism and Health Care Equity initiative that aims to address and mitigate the effects of systemic racism and inequality in health care. Steven Schwaitzberg, MD, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of Surgery, launched the initiative as critical to the education of all surgeons, while also highlighting the urgent need to train more surgeons from underrepresented groups, who currently comprise just 10% of all surgical trainees in the U.S. The goals were to provide candidates with mentoring from attending surgeons, experience in the operating room, and an opportunity to conduct research on health disparities in the majority-Black Fruit Belt community adjacent to the UB medical school. The original plan was to find out how residents viewed screening for colorectal cancer and breast cancer with an eye toward eliminating obstacles to care. But early in the process, Fruit Belt residents candidly told the students and their director how ill-advised that approach would be. “We quickly came to see that that idea was wildly over optimistic in a community that sees itself as getting the short end of the stick research-wise,” says Mike Lamb, PhD, research associate professor in the Department of Surgery and mentorship program director. In a paper currently out for review on the experience, Lamb and the students write: “In retrospect, it’s easy to see how inadvisable it would have been to venture forth into the Fruit Belt greeting residents with a ‘Good morning, I’d like to ask about your colorectal health.’”
Faculty mentors and students in the Department of Surgery’s 2021 Summer Diversity Mentorship Program are, from left, Timothy Adams, Nigel Marine, Abena Ansah-Yeboah, Stuti Tambar and Mario Carrillo.
Conversations with community residents quickly revealed that past research efforts in the Fruit Belt had often been conducted with little regard for the community’s needs and goals. “In most cases, what would happen is what’s called extractive research, which works out well for the researcher, whose CV is burnished, but once finished they fall out of touch with the community,” Lamb explains. “I’m interested in research founded in a shared sense of what should be studied.” Upon reflection, the fellows completely rethought their approach. “We spent our days interviewing residents and stakeholders,” says Lamb. “We understood that we needed to find out all that we did not know. We met with as many local residents and stakeholders as we could. We hosted lunch and dinner meetings. And we shared their priorities with the medical school.” That effort led the medical school to award a Fellowship in Social Justice, Equity Administration and Leadership to Lamb and his students to develop a neighborhood oral history—Voices of the Fruit Belt Community: Amplifying and Empowering our Neighbors. The fellowships are designed to encourage
students to develop leadership skills to advance equity and justice. The project seeks to document and amplify the voices of Fruit Belt residents by developing an oral history, a compelling chronicle of the relationship between the neighborhood and the medical campus. “Some people operate under the mistaken impression that there was ‘nothing there’ in the neighborhood before construction of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and are thus ill-positioned to work in good faith for real change,” says Lamb. “This project offers a platform for community voices to be fully heard and engaged.”
“We quickly came to see that that idea was wildly over optimistic in a community that sees itself as getting the short end of the stick research-wise.” Mike Lamb, PhD, research associate professor, Department of Surgery, and mentorship program director.
Refugee to Doctor
Mam Deng, MD ’22, found a home and a career path in Buffalo
By Dirk Hoffman
Mam Deng, MD, has been inspired by the many health care professionals he has encountered on his journey from refugee to doctor. A member of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Class of 2022, Deng feels “extremely lucky” about his current set of circumstances—training at the University of Massachusetts in a family medicine residency program. But luck had little to do with it, as Deng often made his own good fortune with steadfast purpose.
TUMULTUOUS EARLY LIFE Deng was born in war-torn South Sudan, and his family wound up in a refugee camp in Egypt when he was three years old. While his family was fleeing Sudan, three of his older siblings died as a result of poor health conditions or war. Deng says he has “very little memory of them.” In 2001, when he was five, Deng immigrated to the United States with his parents and two younger siblings and settled in Buffalo. Having no English language skills, the family continued to speak their native Dinka language at home. Deng was enrolled in Buffalo Public School 45 International School and its English as a second language (ESL) program. He supplemented his ESL studies by reading and watching television—learning English by soaking up episodes of “Sesame Street” and “Reading Rainbow.” A fourth grade teacher realized Deng’s academic potential and recommended that he transfer to the academically rigorous City Honors School. A pivotal moment occurred when Deng was in eighth grade. His father became gravely ill and ultimately needed a liver transplant at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. “One of the factors that made me decide I wanted to become a doctor was because my dad almost died,” he says. “It was incredible meeting some of the physicians involved with his liver transplant.” Deng had multiple interactions with his father’s doctors in part because he was acting as an interpreter. “My parents were not the best at English, so I was involved with
translation and helping them understand the situation,” he says. “The doctors were very good at explaining what was going to happen so I in turn could tell my parents. “It was there that I saw up close how health care changes lives and helps people.” Another vital influence on Deng’s decision to pursue a career in medicine was the Jericho Road Community Health Center and its founder and chief executive officer, Myron L. Glick, MD ’93. Glick has known Deng since he was five years old. When his family arrived in Buffalo, it was Glick who conducted their initial refugee health assessment, and the family has been patients at Jericho Road ever since. Glick delivered each of Deng’s four younger siblings. While a high school student at City Honors and later as an undergraduate at SUNY Fredonia, Deng shadowed Glick to learn about the clinic’s day-to-day operations. “Jericho Road is an incredible place. I do not think I would have been able to experience medicine like that anywhere else,” Deng says. “I got to see how the office worked, the interactions with patients and the joy that comes with being a doctor.” Glick says he is very proud of what Deng has achieved. “I’m excited that he graduated from medical school. That is a huge accomplishment,” he says. “Everyone who graduates from medical school has had a journey, but Mam’s has been especially long and challenging. To overcome the odds of coming here as a refugee hasn’t been easy. For him to excel through all that adversity; he deserves all the credit.” Glick is also enthused that Deng has chosen to specialize in family medicine. “He and his family have really only had one physician the whole time they have been in Buffalo,” he says. “That kind of long-term relationship can make a real difference for a family, and I think Mam understands that and is looking for that kind of meaning in his life and profession.” Jericho Road has numerous global health outreach programs that address health disparities in the home countries of many of its refugee patients.
“His kind and calm demeanor invites patients to share with him so that he can provide the best care for them.” David A. Milling, MD ’93, senior associate dean for medical education
Photo by Sandra Kicman
Mam Deng, a Daniel and Gail Alexander Scholar, has been inspired by the many health care professionals he has encountered on his journey from refugee to doctor.
Glick says he would not be surprised to learn that one day Deng has returned to Sudan to provide medical outreach. “It’s something that he has talked about.” In fact, Deng has already been involved in humanitarian efforts in his homeland. As a teenager, he and a cousin, Garang Doar—with help from their parents—founded a nonprofit organization that supports the building of wells in South Sudan.
DIVERSE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE Even though he was interested in family medicine from a young age, Deng did not finalize his decision to pursue the specialty until late in his medical school career. “Looking back on it, I think during my later years of medical school I really realized why I wanted to be a doctor again,” he says. “I lost some of that in the first two years. “What I value in medicine is taking care of a patient and their family, looking after social determinants of health and making sure the interdisciplinary teams are all coordinated,” he adds.
Deng feels fortunate to have undergone training on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and to have completed his clinical rotations in the diverse clinical settings provided by UB’s affiliated teaching hospitals. “I received a quality education inside the beautiful Jacobs School building and had access to all the surrounding institutions, with their state-of-the-art medical technology and engineering advancements,” he says. “I was at Gates Vascular Institute and saw how amazing the quality of life improved for patients after procedures. I was in the Erie County Medical Center’s Trauma and Emergency Department, where patients are flown in from all over Western New York. “Buffalo has all the basics of health care and the patient-doctor interactions you can learn from in an ever-changing world,” he adds. “The Jacobs School also has great teachers who really care about their students.”
KIND AND CALM DEMEANOR David A. Milling, MD ’93, senior associate dean for medical education, says “Deng has been able to use his experiences to create a solid foundation upon which he is able to evaluate and interact with his patients, giving them the opportunity to be heard and using his own insights to provide a comprehensive basis for his treatment plan moving forward. “His kind and calm demeanor invites patients to share with him so that he can provide the best care for them,” Milling adds. “His communication style helps to build trust with his patient, to bring out all of the necessary aspects of their personal and family life. That is so important in terms of providing an appropriate treatment plan.” “Mam’s extraordinary journey to becoming a doctor is an inspiration to all of us at UB,” says Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the Jacobs School. “We are honored to call him a Jacobs School alumnus.” As to where he sees himself in the future, Deng has a clear vision. “I hope to have the skill set to take care of patients from the time they are born until they die in terms of basic health procedures and knowing what they need.” FALL 2022
UB MED DOCTOR VISITS
“I love it when we help a child sleep better.”
CARE FOR CHILDREN WITH SLEEP PROBLEMS
Pediatric sleep specialist Amanda Hassinger, MD ’05 Amanda Hassinger, MD ’05, clinical associate professor of pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, vividly recalls the moment when her career as a pediatric sleep specialist began. While attending patients in the pediatric ICU during a busy overnight shift, she was unable to discharge a child with suspected sleep apnea. No pediatric sleep doctor was available, nor was there a sleep lab for a diagnosis. “It wasn’t safe for him to go home,” Hassinger explains. Yet the child’s bed was needed for another child who was in shock and potentially near death. A tense conversation with the pulmonologist led to the realization that a sleep center for children was vital in such a situation. “What would it take to get one, and how long would it take?” Hassinger asked the pulmonologist. The answer: one year. “That was how it all started,” says Hassinger, now medical director of the UBMD Pediatrics Sleep Lab at Oishei Children’s Hospital. At that point, Hassinger had a decade of experience in pediatric critical care, both in her native Buffalo and at Northwestern University/Children’s Memorial Hospital, where she completed her pediatrics residency and a fellowship in pediatric critical care. Eventually she returned to Buffalo to the pediatric intensive care unit at what was then Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. She earned a master of science degree in epidemiology from the By Ann Whitcher Gentzke
UB School of Public Health and Health Professions in 2015 and completed a sleep fellowship in 2020. She then worked with her colleagues to establish the UBMD Pediatrics Sleep Medicine Center with a pediatric-dedicated sleep lab that opened in July of 2020. The center provides medical support for all sleep problems in children, including nightmares, sleep walking, insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Hassinger has a longstanding interest in research and has worked on several multicenter, NIH-funded trials in the pediatric ICU. Currently, she is working on funding for an ancillary study to a large 10site project led by Sapna R. Kudchadkar, MD, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University, to address early mobility intervention for critically ill children in pediatric ICUs. Heavy sedation, bedrest and delirium all contribute to immobility, yet fewer than 25 percent of critically ill children mobilize early in their PICU stay. Hassinger’s portion of the study would evaluate children’s sleep in the PICU at two sites, using wrist devices and sound and light monitors, as well as parental descriptions of how their child has slept. “We would like to see if any of these factors change how long they’re in the ICU, and how often they develop delirium, because children absolutely develop delirium from being critically ill,” she says. Asked what gives her joy professionally, Hassinger says: “My patients! I find children remarkable and lovely and surprising and resilient. From my time in the ICU, I have amazing memories of what children survive and how they endure. I love it when we help a child sleep better, and they feel better and the whole family feels better.”
“I have the joy of interacting with youth at critical moments in their lives.”
HEALTHY CHILDREN, HEALTHY COMMUNITIES Sarah Ventre, MD, MPH, pediatrician and advocate
After double majoring in biomedical science and anthropology at UB, with a minor in Spanish, Sarah Ventre took part in two summer health internships in Nicaragua. She then enrolled in the combined MD/MPH program at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, choosing this track to better prepare herself to address health at a community level and to advocate for the health of her patients. During this time, she focused her public health projects on improving health care for refugee patients in the Syracuse area and participated in an infectious disease internship in Thailand. Through these experiences, Ventre realized that pediatric primary care was the right fit for her. “I knew this would afford me the most opportunity to engage with children and families longitudinally—and to be a part of their preventive health care starting at a young age,” Ventre says. After completing a pediatric residency at the University of Rochester and an additional year as chief resident, Ventre returned to her hometown of Buffalo with the goal of growing roots in an urban clinic. She joined the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2019 as a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and sees patients through the UBMD Pediatrics practice plan at Oishei Children’s Hospital and Niagara Street Pediatrics. By Dirk Hoffman
Ventre’s research focuses on exploring solutions to health equity and the social determinants of health through methods that include community-based participatory research. As associate program director for advocacy in the Department of Pediatrics, she develops and organizes the community health and advocacy curriculum for pediatric resident education at the Jacobs School. Ventre also serves as co-medical director for the Buffalo Public Schools, working directly with its Department of Student Support Services to provide medical advice. “Through a collaborative team approach, we do our best to assist the district in delivering health services that are evidence-based and meet the needs of the students,” she says. In 2021, Ventre participated in a Pediatrics for Equitable Developmental Start Learning Network fellowship through the United Hospital Fund—a 15-month leadership program that focuses on reducing inequities in child health by providing funding and mentorship to develop, implement and evaluate a pediatric primary care project. “My project focused on addressing food insecurity through implementation of an indoor community garden and produce prescriptions in an outpatient pediatric clinic,” she says. Ventre’s expertise in community health and advocacy dovetails seamlessly with her passion for pediatric medicine. “I have the joy of interacting with youth at critical and everchanging moments in their lives,” she says.
U B M E D PAT H WAYS
IN MEMORIAM DAVID P. HUGHES, MD ’95, MPH
Accomplished physician and health care leader David P. Hughes, MD ’95, MPH, an accomplished physician, health care leader, entrepreneur and engineer who spent the last two decades serving the Buffalo community, died unexpectedly on May 17, 2022. He was 53. Hughes was a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, executive vice president for strategy and partnerships for Kaleida Health, and the CEO of Great Lakes Integrated Network. In these roles, Hughes was a steadfast leader, helping to strengthen the vital synergies between clinicians, medical educators and UB students and residents in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. His greatest impact on the Buffalo healthcare community was continuing the focus on quality of care, education and building a better system. “David was a role model as a physician executive who always considered patient-centered care in every aspect of his role. Whether it was attending in the emergency room, developing large systems to keep patients healthy or championing new payment models focused on health, his insight, intelligence and true desire were evident in everything he touched,” said Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. Close friend and colleague Kevin Gibbons, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the Jacobs School, added: “He truly believed that the health systems and the Jacobs School needed to work hand in hand and advocated to establish those relationships.” Hughes earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University in Flint, MI, and was a process engineer at the General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant prior to entering medical school at UB. He also held a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Hughes is survived by his wife, Kathlin, their three children: Arianna, Nathaniel, and Kaitlin; mother, Mary Jo; brothers Daniel, John and Gregory; and sister, Kathleen Conrad.
David Paul Hughes M.D. Memorial Scholarship Fund
A memorial fund has been established at UB to honor and memorialize Dr. Hughes. Gifts to the David Paul Hughes M.D. Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences can be made online at https://buffalo.edu/campaign/ hughesscholarship or by calling toll free 1-855-GIVE-2-UB. Mailed donations should be directed to: University at Buffalo Foundation Inc., c/o David Paul Hughes M.D. Memorial Scholarship Fund, PO Box 730, Buffalo, NY 14226-0730.
DONALD PINKEL, MD ’51
Cancer pioneer and Lasker Award winner Donald Pinkel, MD ’51, the first clinician to cure acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in pediatric patients, the founding director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and an early, outspoken critic of race-based inequities in health care, died on March 9, 2022, at his home in San Luis Obispo, California. He was 95. A native of Buffalo, Pinkel earned his undergraduate degree at Canisius College and his medical degree at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, after which he completed his residency at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. In 1954 Pinkel was set to begin fellowship training at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but his plans were derailed when he was called up for active duty as a reserve medical officer at the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Devens, MA. While serving there, Pinkel, then 28, contracted polio, which left him temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized for six months. He spent a year in rehabilitation before he could walk again. In a 2001 interview with Buffalo Physician magazine, he referred to this time as his “real postgraduate training in medicine.” After completing rehab, Pinkel worked briefly under the mentorship of Sidney Farber, MD, a fellow Buffalonian, and as head of pediatrics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1961, when it was recommended that he transfer to a warmer climate due to his health, he accepted a position as CEO and founding director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Before leaving Buffalo, Pinkel had a providential encounter in the airport with a former UB medical school professor, John Talbott, MD, who had just resigned as head of medicine at Buffalo General Hospital to assume the editorship of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The two men talked, and Talbott encouraged Pinkel to submit papers on his novel work to JAMA. In the years ahead, Talbott would publish Pinkel’s studies when no other journals would. At St. Jude, Pinkel worked with a team of basic scientists and clinicians to develop a curative program for ALL called Total Therapy, which, by the late 1960s raised the five-year “cure rate” of childhood leukemia to 50 percent, an achievement that caused much skepticism among his peers. In 1971, Talbott published Pinkel’s findings in JAMA. “That was the first paper in which I was able to use the word ‘cure,’” Pinkel later said. A year later, Pinkel won the Albert Lasker Award for Medical Research, our nation’s most distinguished honor for outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research. At St. Jude, Pinkel also led a politically unpopular effort to address the fact that the health of children from poorer environments, particularly African American children, was often compromised by an inadequate diet. He began a nutritional plan that later became a model for the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). “Actually, we got in a lot of trouble for this program,” he told Buffalo Physician in 2001. “You have to remember this was the time of the civil rights movement and most of the youngsters we were seeing were from very poor Black families, so people thought WIC was another form of civil rights agitation.” Pinkel left St. Jude in 1973 and worked over the next two decades at hospitals and medical schools in Wisconsin, California, Pennsylvania and Texas. He retired from medicine in 1994 and later settled in San Luis Obispo, where he taught biology at California Polytechnic State University until he was 89. —S.A. Unger
U B M E D PAT H WAYS
CLAES E.G. LUNDGREN, MD, PHD
World-renowned expert in respiratory physiology
2023 Save the Date
Reunion Weekend 2023 June 2-3 We look forward to celebrating with our 2023 reunion classes: Every 5th year class from 1953-2018 Volunteers are needed to serve as Class Connectors and on the Reunion Planning Committee: Please contact Jennifer Britton at (716) 829-2586 for more information. • Full weekend schedule and registration coming soon • For additional event details, visit www.medicine.buffalo.edu/reunion • Do you know of an alumnus with outstanding achievement and leadership as a physician/ biomedical scientist, or who should be acknowledged for her or his exemplary community service? While visiting the reunion website, please also consider submitting a nomination for the 2023 Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Awards. (Awards will be presented during Reunion Weekend.)
Claes E.G. Lundgren, MD, PhD, a world-renowned expert in respiratory physiology in specialized environments and a SUNY Distinguished Professor of physiology and biophysics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, died on June 12, 2022. He was 91. Lundgren was the longtime director of UB’s Center for Research and Education in Special Environments (CRESE)—one of the most novel research facilities in the world, focusing on extreme environments and prehospital medicine. He made major contributions to the fields of respiratory medicine and hyperbaric medicine—the medical use of oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressure. Lundgren’s research advanced the understanding of respiratory mechanics related to breath-hold diving, breathing with diving equipment, and the design and development of improved underwater breathing equipment. In the spring of 2009, shortly before his retirement from UB, world experts on hyperbaric medicine convened in Buffalo for a scientific symposium in honor of Lundgren’s contributions to the field. Lundgren was one of the founders of CRESE and served as director from 1985 to 2007. Throughout the course of his career, he held or was a co-inventor on more than 100 patents. Lundgren was instrumental in the development of Nicorette gum. In the 1960s, while working at the Department of Aviation Medicine at the Physiological Institute of Lund University in his native Sweden, he noted how submariners and aviation crews switched from cigarettes to chewing tobacco when smoking was not possible. He contacted a close friend, Dr. Ove Fernö, head of research at the Swedish pharmaceutical company AB Leo and suggested that an orally consumed substitute for tobacco be developed and coined the name “Nicorette.” Lundgren subsequently collaborated with Fernö on studies. By 1976, Fernö had created NICORETTE®’s trademark gum and by the turn of the century, it had become a household name and the foremost treatment for smoking addiction. Survivors include his wife since 1959, Lone Lundgren; three daughters, Pia Lundgren, Eva Lundgren and Anna Lundgren; a sister, Marta Grondelli Lundgren; and two grandchildren. —S.A. Unger
WILLIAM R. KINKEL, MD ’54
Founded Dent Neurological Institute, pioneered neuroimaging William Revere Kinkel, MD ’54, who pioneered the field of neuroimaging and founded Dent Neurological Institute, died on March 15, 2022 in his Orchard Park, NY, home. He was 94. A native of Buffalo, Kinkel was the son of prominent attorney Edward G. Kinkel. One of six children, he was a 1946 graduate of Nichols School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1950. He then attended the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, graduating in 1954. The first neurology resident trained at UB and the first physician in Western New York to limit his practice to neurology, Kinkel joined the staff of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital on Gates Circle in 1960 after serving in the Air Force. In 1968, he was the only neurologist in upstate New York to participate in a hospital trial to treat Parkinson’s using L-dopa, now considered standard treatment for the disease. In 1963, Harry M. Dent, founder of Durez Plastics, became a patient of Kinkel’s after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At the time, Kinkel was exploring the use of cerebral angiography as a method for treating Parkinson’s. The Dent Family Foundation expressed interest in supporting Kinkel’s research and subsequently provided him with a grant that established the Dent Clinic, which Dr. Kinkel founded in 1963 at the former Millard Fillmore Hospital. In 1968, the clinic’s name was changed to Dent Neurological Institute, now one of the largest neurological practices in the country. An emeritus professor of neurology at UB, Kinkel put Buffalo on the map not only as a place where the field of neuroimaging was founded, but also as a magnet for world-class training in the field. He developed the first neuroimaging fellowship program in the world at the Dent Neurologic Institute. Later, he developed a second fellowship program at Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Medical Center, a UB teaching affiliate. Today, these programs are two of only six such programs in the United States. Every medical student who wants to obtain board certification in the subspecialty of neuroimaging must complete a one-year fellowship in a program approved by the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties. Students came from all over the world to Buffalo to study with Kinkel and, in turn, train future neuroimagers. In 1976, Kinkel helped found the Society of Neuroimaging, also in Buffalo. He served as director of the Dent Institute until 2003, then established the Kinkel Neurologic Clinic with his son Peter R. Kinkel, MD, a neurologist and part of the eighth generation of physicians in the family. A passionate teacher who brought the third ever CT scanner to America, Kinkel continued late in life to teach UB residents and fellows how to read and evaluate CT, PET scans, MRIs, MRAs and other radiologic images. Former students sent him scans from all over the world, and his lifetime of experience helped him diagnose many complex cases and to revise the diagnoses of other lessexperienced clinicians. In 2017 Dr. Kinkel received the American Society of Neuroimaging’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2021 he was conferred an honorary Doctor of Science degree from SUNY. His wife of 47 years, the former Jane deLacy, died in 1996. Survivors include two sons, Dr. Peter R. and Dr. R. Philip “Rip”; two daughters, Christa Kinkel Cornell and Corey Kinkel Kennedy; a sister, Carolyn Kinkel Catlin; eight grandchildren (including Diana Cornell, MD, a physician at Harvard Medical School, part of the ninth generation of physicians in the family), four great-grandchildren and a longtime friend, Dr. Bonnie Gordon Flickinger. —S.A. Unger
On August 5, 2022, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences hosted a special reception to thank and recognize members of the James Platt White Society and their Loyal Blues Leaders, Champions and Guardians. The event, held at the Westin Buffalo, also gave donors and supporters an opportunity to meet and interact with Dean Allison Brashear.
Thank you, leadership donors!
1. From left: Nader Nader, PhD ’99, Faranack N. Benz,
MD ’15, Barbara Barlow, BS ’64, Jared Barlow Sr., MD ‘66
2. Grant Golden, MD ’76, and Deborah Goldman, MBA ’82 3. From left: David Milling, MD ’93, executive director of the Office of Medical Education and senior associate dean for medical education; Randall Loftus, MD ’92; and UB President Satish K. Tripathi
4. Dean Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, left, speaking with
Sherice Simpson, Class of 2023. Simpson recently completed a yearlong fellowship in the Medical Research Scholars Program at the National Institutes of Health.
Loftus Family Fund Established
Supports diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences J. Randall Loftus, MD ’92, and his wife, Tami, have established the Loftus Family Fund to support diversity and inclusion priorities for alumni, students and faculty in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The Loftus Family has been a steadfast and generous donor to the Jacobs School and a longtime advocate of diversity and inclusion in medicine. The endowed fund is directed to programs such as the Celebration of Inclusiveness in Medicine and Sciences lectures, networking for current students of color, and Second Look Weekend in partnership with the Jacobs School administration and the Medical Alumni Association (MAA). “The idea for the Loftus Family Fund arose from the need to increase diversity in our medical school,” says Randall Loftus, founder of Western New York Radiology Group and a past president of the MAA. “Great things can be accomplished by many small, directed intentional efforts. One initial goal of ours is to provide modest resources for the Second Look Weekend program.” Second Look Weekend is a student-led initiative that is credited with playing a significant role in helping to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in the Jacobs School. Now several years old, the program provides an opportunity for accepted students from underrepresented groups to take a closer look at the Jacobs School during a weekend of events designed especially for them.
According to data from the Office of Medical Admissions, 33 out of 180 students in the Class of 2022 were from underrepresented groups, compared to 18 students in the Class of 2021. Among the 33 students are 20 African American students, up from eight in 2017. The Loftus Family Fund will help ensure momentum for this important and highly effective program. “The long-term goal of the fund is to help our school achieve a diverse medical student body and to help attract diverse medical residents to train and subsequently practice in this area—both of which would strengthen our medical community,” Loftus explains. “In the future, we also hope the fund will be utilized to engage with local secondary schools to highlight health careers and provide mentorship. “This is a small beginning, and we will provide continued support,” Loftus notes. “Tami and I feel there are many programs and initiatives in the Jacobs School that can greatly benefit from focused support and encouragement.” —S.A. Unger
“The idea for the Loftus Family Fund arose from the need to increase diversity in our medical school.” Randall Loftus, MD ’92
J. Randall Loftus, MD ’92, and Tami Loftus
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