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Michael E. Cain, MD.

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences continues to bolster its faculty and increase its diversity as it prepares to move downtown, said Michael E. Cain, MD.

Medical School’s Impending Move Downtown Focus of Cain’s Address

Published February 7, 2017

As the countdown to the opening of the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences downtown begins to be measured in months instead of years, the school continues to grow and diversify its faculty ranks, attract outstanding students and enhance its research productivity.

“We are becoming impressive in the number of things we as an institution do to make sure that our medical school does, in fact, look like America.”
Vice president for health sciences and medical school dean

Those were among the key points highlighted by Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and medical school dean, during his 11th annual state-of-the-school address, Jan. 31 at the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC).

Cain also noted the importance of the continued review and updating of medical school policies, implementation of a strategic plan for medical curriculum and a system for continuous quality improvement of the medical curriculum in anticipation of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s (LCME) site visit in April 2019 as part of the school’s accreditation process.

Bolstering of Faculty Ranks Continues

“We have had a progressive planned increase in the number of faculty over the last several years,” Cain said. “Our commitment to the LCME is that by 2020 we will have 860 full-time faculty to meet the increased teaching needs of our increased class size of 180 students.”

The largest increase has occurred in clinical departments and faculty on the clinical track, which mirrors the trend in other medical schools throughout the country, he noted.

“When I arrived here 11 years ago, one of the findings was that we were a predominantly gray-haired faculty with a large proportion of professors and that we were missing youth,” Cain said.

“I am pleased that over the last five or six years the largest portion of our faculty that have been added are at the assistant professor level. While we still have a very healthy group at the associate and professor level, we have a nice group of youth that has joined the school.”

Diversity Efforts Expanding

Cain said the school has made strides in increasing the number of women and those traditionally underrepresented in medicine — Native American, Hispanic-American and African-American — both in medical students and faculty.

He credited Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion; David A. Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs; Charles M. Severin, PhD, MD, associate dean for medical education and admissions, along with the Admissions Committee, for “very rapidly coming together and dramatically changing the approach to the way we identify and admit candidates for the degree of doctor of medicine.”

Cain also pointed out the school will add approximately 80 new faculty members during the next two years.

“We are going to pay very close attention in making sure those faculty recruits enhance our diversity in both women and in traditional underrepresented minorities,” he said.

“Through curricula changes, through partnerships with associations in the community and by increased grant support that actually deals with health care disparities, we are becoming impressive in the number of things we as an institution do to make sure that our medical school does, in fact, look like America,” Cain said.

New School Downtown Nears Opening

Cain noted several important milestones as construction of the new medical school building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus nears completion.

“The timeline for us to gain access is such that people should be able to start moving into the new building in October, with a progressive ramp-up leading us to have full operations in January 2018,” he said.

“The new school offers a 178 percent increase in educational space for our medical students and most of those increases occur in the small classroom area,” Cain said. “This is by design as we reshape the vision of our medical curriculum.”

Cain also noted the “remarkable synergism” between Kaleida Health and the school of medicine that began with the CRTC in 2012.

He said it escalated into collaboration with John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and with Conventus and actually impacted the design of the new medical school building, creating three new interconnected facilities where “we eliminate needless redundancies.”

Cain noted the 12 practice plans with the UBMD physicians group co-located on the fourth floor of the Conventus building will start seeing their first patients there when the building opens in March.

Conventus’ fifth floor will house academic offices for:

Those offices are currently located at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Bryant Street and will move to the Conventus building in conjunction with the opening of the Oishei Children’s Hospital, scheduled for November.

Research Expenditures on the Rise

The school’s sponsored-program research expenditures continue to climb, Cain said.

In 2016, they totaled $51.3 million and are expected to increase to $53.4 million in 2017, he noted.

If intramural funding sources are included, the figure climbs to $76.5 million for 2016. Adding in research funding procured by full-time faculty working at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the Buffalo VA Medical Center elevates the total to almost $131 million.

Cain said the $15 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) the medical school received from the National Institutes of Health is being renamed the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) to differentiate it from the other 63 centers in the national CTSA Consortium.

The CTSI includes:

Cain touted the success of translational pilot studies funded by the CTSI since the grant’s inception.

“The extramural funding that resulted from a $600,000 investment over three years was quite remarkable,” he said. “The return on investment was $7.9 million of in-the-bank National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, so it’s a 13-to-1 return on investment.”

Beginning in 2017, the CTSI, together with resources provided by UB and RPCI, will enable $600,000 a year to be available for pilot studies.

Cain said the CTSI continues to work on streamlining the clinical research process and enhancing recruitment to clinical trials.

The CTSI also supports a mentoring program designed to train investigators from diverse backgrounds and develop the next generation of leaders in translational research.

After a rigorous NIH-style review process, two scholars have been selected and funded in the KL2 Mentored Career Development Program and three BTC scholars have been funded though institutional awards.

Initial GEM Pilot Study Grants Awarded

The Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence has resulted in a new source of $190,000 worth of funding available to faculty for innovative pilot studies that allows them to gather preliminary data that could be converted to a larger, more sustainable grant from the NIH or another funding organization.

In 2016, five teams were selected for pilot grant projects:

  • Protists in the Oral Microbiome: Gerald Koudelka, PhD; Mira Edgerton, PhD
  • Gut Microbial Keystone Species for Probiotic Treatment of Obesity and its Comorbidities: Lixin Zhu, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics
  • PPI-Related Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis Role in Diabetic Nephropathy: A Cross-Sectional Analysis: Rabi Yacoub, MD, assistant professor of medicine; and Lee Chaves, PhD
  • Pilot Study of Placental, Oral and Gut Microbiome Related to Pregnancy Outcomes: Vanessa M. Barnabei, MD, PhD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology; and Robert Genco, PhD, DDS
  • The Airway Microbiome and Lung Cancer in a COPD Cohort: Manoj J. Mammen, MD, assistant professor of medicine

Medical School Drawing Top-Notch Students

In 2016, the medical school received 4,490 applications, 2.9 percent more than in 2015. Of those, 576 were selected for interviews.

“We had our highest yield yet, thus requiring us to write only 307 letters of acceptance to fill our class of 149 students,” Cain said.

The vast majority, or 88 percent of the freshman class, comes from New York. Forty-four percent of the class hails from Western New York.

The overall undergraduate GPA for the class is 3.73, higher than the national average.

“This is a remarkably impressive group of students,” Cain said.

Graduate Medical Education Excels

Cain noted the Office of Graduate Medical Education, under the direction of Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean of graduate medical education, has attained institutional accreditation with commendation and no citations for deficiencies.

The school currently has 65 programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Additionally, graduate programs in diagnostic radiology, family medicine (osteopathic), gynecologic oncology and obstetric anesthesiology are currently seeking accreditation.

Berger has put together several collaborations with adjunct teaching facilities — most notably the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the University of Toronto Center for Quality Improvement & Patient Safety and the UB School of Management Accelerated MBA for Residents/Fellows.

UB recently marked the 10-year anniversary of its collaboration with the RCP and Cain noted that 200 UB faculty members in 17 departments have participated through 400 educational initiatives.

Cain also highlighted the increase in the number of matches to UB’s residency programs — from 116 in 2012 to 171 in 2016. He noted that 99 percent of UB’s residency positions were filled in 2016.

The number of UB medical school graduates filling those residency positions continues to climb as well, with 49, or 29 percent, matching at UB in 2016.

Exceptional Faculty Members Recognized

UB faculty is becoming recognized more and more, both internationally and nationally, Cain said.

He noted that a large proportion of medical school faculty has been recognized recently through the SUNY Distinguished program, as well as the UB Distinguished and the UB Exceptional Scholars program.

Faculty honored at SUNY and UB levels in 2016 included:

“There has also been an increased recognition of our faculty physicians,” Cain said, noting the largest number yet of UMBD faculty — 73 — were recognized by Castle Connolly as “America’s Top Doctors in 2016.”

Office of Inclusion Builds Upon Efforts

The Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement continues to “put together a remarkable group of programs” that further the school’s commitment to support diversity and inclusion in education, research and clinical care, Cain said.

These include:

“These are powerful programs that we have now in Buffalo, programs that came about because of the energies we have developed through the Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement,” he said.

Three new initiatives have also been undertaken:  

  • workshops that look at components needed to build the right culture to allow for a diverse group of students, faculty and staff
  • Early Opportunity Program in Medicine, a collaboration between the Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement and the Office of Medical Admissions open to sophomore college students at partner schools who participate in the CLIMB PRO summer program with an eye toward ultimately being accepted into UB’s medical school
  • online databases of annual diversity and inclusion reports from every department in the medical school

Website Attracting Global Audience

In 2016, the Office of Communications bolstered recruitment efforts by writing 135 news stories for the school’s website and publishing 501 mentions showcasing external media coverage highlighting UB faculty, Cain said.

In terms of user engagement, the school’s website generated 1,945,846 page views in 2016, almost double the amount of 1,004,123 in 2015.

Location data also shows the school’s website is being accessed from around the world, with thousands of sessions initiated in the following top 10 countries: United States, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Pakistan, China, the Philippines, Germany and the Netherlands.

Additionally, the office launched new websites for the:

Additional Highlights

In other 2016 news, Cain reported:

  • Kenneth Pearson, MD, was appointed as the new chair of radiology; and David Dietz, PhD, was appointed interim chair of pharamacology and toxicology
  • the medical school’s comprehensive fundraising campaign to support capital projects and build endowment has raised $177 million of its $200 million goal as of November
  • UBMD continues to increase its number of patients, as well as the clinical revenue that is generated through its 18 practice plans — reaching $246 million last year
  • UB has fully implemented interprofessional development programs, including the first IPE Day conducted in November, in which almost 900 students in the health professions, social work, law and management participated in a daylong forum on opioid dependence
  • UB has 423 students currently enrolled in approved majors in biomedical undergraduate education, with the majority in biomedical sciences