Published February 3, 2014
In a year marked by significant growth, the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences added 35 faculty positions in 2013, launched a new department and graduated the largest number of medical students choosing to remain at UB for residency.
Those were some of the highlights that Michael E. Cain, MD, underscored during his annual state of the school address, Jan. 17 at the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Cain, vice president for health sciences and medical school dean, also looked to the future during his address, providing additional details about the new medical school, which is set for completion in December 2016.
The number of medical school faculty increased “dramatically” over the last two years, Cain said — from 688 in 2011 to 747 in 2013.
That increase aligns with key objectives of the UB 2020 strategic plan and allows the medical school class to grow from 140 to 180 students when the school relocates to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, he explained.
As UB has added faculty, increased federal research dollars are channeling into the school, Cain said.
In 2013, investigators were awarded 175 federal grants, excluding those received by faculty at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Hauptman-Woodward Institute. That’s up from 131 in 2012.
UB faculty received $36.4 million in federal grant money last year, nearly $2 million more than in 2012.
“Both the number of investigators who are being funded and the number of grant dollars are moving in the right direction despite tightened NIH funding and the effects of sequestration, which are still very real,” Cain said.
With the architectural plans for the new medical school complete, UB has begun inviting construction bids for the project and will soon select a firm, Cain said.
Construction is expected to begin this March.
As he described the building, Cain noted several features that will foster a dynamic teaching and learning environment.
In addition, a new Structural Science Learning Center, housed on the seventh floor, will focus on the computational analysis and teaching of human structure in anatomy and human cell biology. The SSLC will combine the work of investigators and teachers in biomedical sciences and engineering to restate human structure in computational terms.
Under the direction of Timothy F. Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, UB’s CTRC expanded its capabilities last year, opening a facility to support high-impact clinical research and offering state-of-the art imaging equipment for preclinical studies.
The Clinical Research Center, also directed by Murphy, features:
The center will house the Clinical Trials Office, originally in the Department of Medicine. Within the CTRC, the office will evolve into an institution-wide resource, providing comprehensive support to UB faculty for clinical research supported by all funding sources, Cain said.
The center houses a PET CT scanner supported by a National Institutes of Health shared instrumentation grant and a 9.4 Tesla Micro magnetic resonance imager purchased with funds from the medical school and the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute.
Through a collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery and Toshiba, the center will add a 3 Tesla MRI to its inventory in 2014, as well as a 320-slice computed tomography scanner — one of the most advanced medical imaging devices available.
“These are remarkable facilities for conducting clinical and translational research that are open not only to researchers in the school of medicine and our other health science schools but to our partners at Erie County Medical Center and on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” Cain said.
The CTRC continued to help the medical school attract highly regarded clinical and translational investigators to Buffalo in 2013, Cain noted.
Recently recruited faculty working in the CTRC are:
The medical school launched the Department of Biomedical Informatics in 2013, naming Peter L. Elkin, MD, inaugural chair, Cain said.
The new department will advance translational medicine by providing the data infrastructure needed to perform translational and clinical genomic research more efficiently. This will position UB to more rapidly advance the scientific understanding of biomedicine and more rapidly translate that knowledge into new, safe, effective treatments.
The department will offer master’s and PhD programs, replacing the current certificate program. Plans are underway to eventually offer a bachelor’s degree program in biomedical informatics.
The program offers degree tracks for master’s and PhD candidates.
In addition to Elkin, new department chairs announced in 2013 were Leslie J. Bisson, MD, June A. and Eugene R. Mindell, MD Professor and Chair of orthopaedics, and Elad I. Levy, MD, chair of neurosurgery.
The medical school created a new deanship in 2013, Cain said, naming David P. Hughes, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs.
Hughes’ responsibilities include:
In July, Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, was named senior associate dean for research and graduate education.
In a vote of confidence for the school’s residency programs, 50 percent more graduating UB medical students chose to stay at UB for their training in 2013 than in 2012, Cain said.
Additionally, a majority of graduating residents — both UB medical school alumni and alumni from other medical schools — elected to remain in Buffalo to practice.
In keeping with the school’s commitment to diversity, the Office of Medical Admissions initiated a holistic review process for medical school applicants in 2013, Cain said.
When reviewing applications, the committee assesses academic performance and MCAT scores in the context of many other factors, such as life experiences, leadership roles and community engagement.
“As we continue to build a stronger, more diverse and brighter class, we recognize that certain groups of students do better on standardized tests than others,” Cain said.
“We’re selecting students based not just on those traditional cut-off points — a certain score on the MCAT exam or a certain grade point average — but on other important factors as well.”
The Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement continued to build upon its mission in 2013, Cain noted.
Under the leadership of Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, professor and chair of pharmacology and toxicology, the office has formed a council dedicated to inclusion in medicine and science. Members make recommendations about such issues as faculty and staff diversification, medical and graduate trainee recruitment and development, and community engagement.
The office also helps lead several university-wide initiatives. These include CLIMB, a program Dubocovich founded that develops students and junior investigators into leaders in science, and the Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity, which promotes a culturally and academic inclusive community at UB.
In other 2013 news, Cain said: