In Memoriam- Faculty and Leadership

Joginder N. Bhayana, MD, Heart Transplant Pioneer

Joginder N. Bhayana, MD 

—Heart transplant pioneer and friend of the school

Joginder N. Bhayana, MD, a surgeon and philanthropist who performed the first heart transplant in Buffalo and led Buffalo’s heart transplant program, died Jan. 2 in Canterbury Woods after a long illness. He was 84.

A native of Multan, Pakistan, Bhayana earned his medical degree at MGM Medical College in Indore, India, after which he completed residency training and a fellowship in cardiac surgery at Georgetown University.

An associate professor of surgery at UB, Bhayana worked as a heart surgeon from 1973 to 2000 at Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Medical Center, a UB teaching affiliate. He also served as assistant chief of surgical services at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He performed the first heart transplant in Buffalo and served as co-leader and then director of the former heart transplant program at Buffalo General, retiring in 2000.

Bhayana and his wife, the late Ved, established a scholarship fund that each year provides assistance to two UB medical students who are from Western New York and have demonstrated financial need.

Survivors include two sons, Rohit and Ranjan, and six grandchildren.


Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences

Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, who taught for nearly 50 years in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, died on Feb. 2 in Heathwood Assisted Living, Amherst, N.Y. He was 75.

A native of Harwich, Mass., Nickerson earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree and a PhD from Clark University, where he was a NASA predoctoral fellow. Known for his research into high blood pressure, he was recruited to join UB’s faculty in 1967. Over the course of his career, he authored or co-authored 65 publications.

Nickerson was well-liked and respected by the medical and dental students he taught, and many kept in touch with him long after they graduated. He was director of Pathology Graduate Studies from 1974 to 2015 and developed such innovative initiatives as the medical school’s early admission program.

Outside of the classroom, Nickerson immersed himself in university life. He served as chair of the UB Faculty Senate for several terms and on dozens of departmental, university and SUNY committees over the years. He was chair of the Medical Faculty Council, a SUNY senator, president of the SUNY-Buffalo chapter of Sigma Xi and chair of the UB Faculty Senate for five terms.

Nickerson, who retired in March 2015, also was active in the community. He was a member and former president of the Western New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.


Lani J. Burkman, PhD, Expert on Male Infertility

Lani J. Burkman, PhD, research associate professor emeritus of gynecology and obstetrics and widely renowned expert on male infertility, died March 4 at her home on Grand Island, NY, after a struggle with cancer. She was 67.

Born in Santa Barbara, Calif., the former Lani Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and completed her doctoral studies in physiology at UC Davis in 1982.

She then became a researcher at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Va., the nation’s first in vitro fertilization clinic, where she developed the hemizona assay, a highly regarded sperm function test. Her studies led to the discovery of sperm hyperactivation, a critical stage in the fertilization of an egg.

In 1994, Burkman joined the faculty at UB, where she was director of the Division of Andrology, established an andrology laboratory and studied the effects of tobacco and marijuana use on male fertility.

She retired from UB in 2009 to