Faculty Profiles

Steven, Ambrusko
Ambrusko, Steven, MD, MSClinical Assistant Professor
Email: ambrusk@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Barbara, Bambach
Bambach, Barbara, MDClinical Associate Professor
Email: bambach@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Research Summary:
As a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, I care for children from birth through age 21 who have blood disorders or cancers. This includes care for children with illnesses such as anemia, platelet problems, white blood cell abnormalities, bleeding disorders, leukemias, lymphomas, kidney and liver tumors and other cancers. I diagnose these illnesses and develop treatment plans, often in collaboration with physicians from other specialties such as surgery and radiation oncology. I manage patients who are receiving care at the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition, I have a special focus on pediatric blood and marrow transplantation. I transplant children with malignant and non-malignant disorders, performing both autologous (self) and allogeneic (donor other than the patient) transplants. My research is clinical in nature. I participate in clinical trials through the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. I also am the local principal investigator on several pediatric transplant trials through the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network and other multi-institutional trials. I am the clinical director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program located at Roswell Park. I have also served as the chair of the Institutional Review Board at the institute for over a decade. I am extensively involved with medical education, providing lectures on pediatric hematology and oncology on a regular basis to University at Buffalo third-year medical students and pediatric residents and fellows.

Matthew, Barth
Barth, Matthew, MDAssistant Professor
Email: mbarth@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Research Summary:
I am a pediatric hematologist/oncologist. I see young patients who are admitted to the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition to my clinical practice, I have a keen interest in hematological malignancies and the use of targeted therapies in their treatment. As a fellow in the lymphoma translational research laboratory at RPCI, I began investigating novel therapeutic anti-CD20 antibodies in cell-line and xenograft models of rituximab resistant B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). Based on my initial findings with the antibody ofatumumab, the University at Buffalo granted me the Dr. Henry C. and Bertha H. Buswell Fellowship, an award for promising physician-scientists who are in the beginning stages of their careers. The award allowed me to continue my work with this novel monoclonal antibody and begin exploring why B-cell lymphoma cells become resistant to multiple therapeutic modalities, including anti-CD20 immunotherapy and traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy. For children with relapsed/refractory disease, this resistance portends a survival rate that is less than 20 percent. Using cell-line models of resistant disease and a variety of techniques such as gene expression profiling, phosphoproteomics, phospho-flow cytometry and western blotting, I have sought to characterize aberrant signal transduction pathway activation in the setting of resistant B-NHL and the ability to target relevant pathways as a means to overcome or bypass therapeutic resistance. These efforts have led to collaborative research with several investigators throughout the country who have similar interests, e.g., the clinical investigation of the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab in childhood B-NHL. In addition to my basic science and translational research, I am involved in developing trials that investigate other novel therapies in the setting of relapsed/refractory disease. I am co-PI of an investigator-initiated trial studying the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody obinutuzumab, in combination with chemotherapy, for relapsed/refractory childhood B-NHL. I am also an industry-sponsored investigator researching the role of rituximab in the treatment of de novo childhood mature B-NHL. Additionally, I serve on the study committees of ongoing clinical trials through the Children’s Oncology Group. I often supervise residents on their research projects and periodically welcome medical students, college students and high school students to work with me in the lab—mostly as part of the RPCI summer research program. I teach medical students, residents and fellows rotating through pediatric hematology and oncology, in outpatient clinics and at the bedside on inpatient units. Using brief impromptu lectures/discussions, I also teach these trainees about disease processes they encounter as they rotate through hematology/oncology. I also lecture the pediatric residents during the hematology/oncology portion of their didactic series. Additionally, I teach our hematology/oncology fellows, in small-group didactic lectures and in both inpatient and outpatient clinical encounters.

Lorna, Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick, Lorna, MDClinical Associate Professor and Chief, Medical Education
Email: lkf2@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 323-0031

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Meghan, Higman
Higman, Meghan, MD, PhDClinical Assistant Professor
Email: mhigman@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Shilpa, Jain
Jain, Shilpa, MD, MPHClinical Assistant Professor
Email: sjain8@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Kara, Kelly
Kelly, Kara, MDProfessor and Division Chief, Hematology/Oncology
Email: kkelly24@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Denise, Rokitka
Rokitka, Denise, MD, MPHClinical Assistant Professor
Email: drokita@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Beverly, Schaefer
Schaefer, Beverly, MDClinical Assistant Professor
Email: bschaefe@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics

Research Summary:
I am a pediatric non-malignant hematologist, board-certified in both pediatrics and pediatric hematology and oncology. I specialize in the care of patients with disorders of hemostasis and thrombosis (bleeding disorders and blood clots) and see patients at the Roswell Park Oishei Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program. My research focuses on studying the impact of comorbidities on the hemostatic system. My goal is to understand how common health issues like obesity, diabetes and thyroid disease affect the hemostatic system. I welcome trainees to collaborate with me in research. As the associate program director of our pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship, I design training curricula and oversee the didactic curriculum for the Division of Hematology and Oncology. I also train medical students, pediatric residents, pediatric hematology oncology fellows and hematology oncology fellows who care for adults. I conduct a monthly workshop on pediatric anemias for medical students. Additionally, I give a monthly lecture to third-year medical students during their pediatrics clerkship, and I oversee the fourth-year medical student pediatric hematology/oncology elective. Trainees work with me in the inpatient wards, where we collaborate to care for patients who are ill with disorders along the entire spectrum of hematologic and oncologic disease. Trainees work with me as well in the outpatient clinic, where I care primarily for children with hematologic disorders. I also supervise the Pediatric and Adult Hematology Experience, a collaborative rotation for Roswell Park hematology oncology fellows who care for adults. I am passionate about teaching all levels of learners and grooming fellows for careers as physician-scientists. My teaching philosophy is that teaching is best delivered in small, meaningful bites of information. I find ways to engage my trainees by asking questions, role-playing and having them interact with patients as much as possible. I engage learners in interactive ways, presenting them with skill- and problem-focused learning opportunities. I use case studies, run skills labs (such as practicing how to reconstitute blood-clotting factors from powder to solution) and conduct mock codes so that my trainees can familiarize themselves with critical patient scenarios and practice the process to ensure they are following the necessary steps to save patients’ lives.

Clare, Twist
Twist, Clare, MD, MSClinical Professor
Email: ctwist@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 845-2333

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatric Hematology-Oncology; Pediatrics