Doctoral students, MD-PhD students and mentors pose at the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences’ third annual white coat ceremony.

PPBS White Coat Ceremony Honors Student Advancement

Published July 1, 2019

The PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) conducted its third annual white coat ceremony to recognize 19 students from the Class of 2018-2019 — 14 doctoral students and five MD-PhD students — who completed their first year in the program and are moving on to their research laboratory match.

“This ceremony is near and dear to my heart. It is a great way to acknowledge our doctoral candidates.”
Senior associate dean for research and graduate education

Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, senior associate dean for research and graduate education, gave the opening remarks at an event for which he has a deep affinity.

“This ceremony is near and dear to my heart. It is a great way to acknowledge our doctoral candidates,” said Campagnari, who is also a SUNY Distinguished Professor of microbiology and immunology and medicine. “Thank you for joining our program. I wish you the best in your research.”

In addition to the students, he also acknowledged the family members, faculty, staff and sponsors in attendance.

Awards Honor Excellence in Class, Lab

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, congratulated the students on their accomplishments and offered encouragement as they embark on their various research paths.

“As it is with medical students, this marks an important milestone in the continuous development of your lifelong careers doing research broadly in medicine and biomedical sciences,” Cain said. “It is our privilege to have you at our institution and to serve as your mentors and faculty.”

Cain also handed out two awards presented by Laboratory Product Sales, one of the event’s sponsors.

Michael E. Cain, MD, reads Haley V. Parker’s accomplishments as he presents the LPS Highest GPA Award to her.

Haley V. Parker, a Tonawanda, New York, native who earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology at Niagara University, won the LPS Highest GPA Award, which recognizes the student with the highest cumulative grade point average at the end of his or her first year. She has been matched to the laboratory of Christine E. Schaner Tooley, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, to pursue her doctoral degree in biochemistry.

Michael E. Cain, MD, presents the LPS Rotation Award to Katherine Sortino.

Katherine Sortino, a Rochester, New York, native who earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, won the LPS Rotation Award, which recognizes a student for exceptional performance in a PPBS laboratory rotation. She has been matched to the laboratory of Laurie K. Read, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, to pursue her doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology.

Support Network Guides Doctoral Candidates

Another event sponsor, the Office of Medical Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, was represented by Daniel W. Sheehan, MD, PhD ’89, associate dean for medical curriculum, clinical professor of pediatrics and a member of the Medical Alumni Association board.

“The Alumni Association is proud to participate in this third annual white coat ceremony because we know that without your dedication, research and creativity, we would not be able to take biomedical sciences as well as medicine to the next level here in Buffalo and beyond,” Sheehan said.

A 1989 graduate of the doctoral program in physiology, Sheehan fondly remembers the mentoring he received from his thesis adviser, thesis committee and the entire Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

“You will also have that wonderful opportunity to grow both personally and professionally in each of your programs,” he said. “There is an incredible network here to support you. We’re here to help you in any way we can.”

14 PPBS Students Match into Research Lab

The PPBS students were cloaked by the faculty members into whose research labs they matched.

The table below lists the students, their departments and mentors:

Student Department Mentor
Natalie Anselmi Oral Biology Michelle Visser, PhD
Michael C. Battaglia Biochemistry Lee Ann Garrett-Sinha, PhD  
Liana Bruggemann Biomedical Informatics Ram Samudrala, PhD
Meghan M. Conner Biochemistry Christine E. Schaner Tooley, PhD
Narayan Dhimal Neuroscience M. Laura Feltri, MD
Sydney Herring Microbiology and Immunology Elsa Bou Ghanem, PhD
Erich Horeth Oral Biology Rose-Anne Romano, PhD
Nadine J. Husami Biochemistry Michael H. Farkas, PhD
Haley V. Parker Biochemistry Christine E. Schaner Tooley, PhD
Garrett D. Sheehan Neuroscience Arin Bhattacharjee, PhD
Katherine Sortino Microbiology and Immunology Laurie K. Read, PhD
Sophia Tchir Neuroscience Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD
Lauren Wishnie Biomedical Informatics Alexander D. Diehl, PhD
Kristen Woodhouse Neuroscience Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD

5 MD-PhD Students Match Into Research Lab

This year, the ceremony also honored students in the MD-PhD program. MD-PhD students were also cloaked by the faculty members into whose research labs they matched.

The table below lists the students, their departments and mentors:

Student Department Mentor
Clayton Brady
Physiology and Biophysics Mark D. Parker, PhD
Megan Conrow
Neuroscience Zhen Yan, PhD
James Cooper Pharmacology and Toxicology Fraser J. Sim, PhD
John Lewis Etter Epidemiology and Environmental Health
Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD
Cameron MacDonald
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center — Immunology Elizabeth A. Repasky, PhD

Mentoring, Financial Support Provided

The PPBS provides an entry portal and a common first-year curriculum, mentoring, hands-on opportunities and financial support.

With its laboratory rotation system, students can explore a variety of disciplines before committing to their specific area of research.

The white coat ceremony was conducted June 18 in the Sol Messinger, MD ’57 Active Learning Center at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building in downtown Buffalo.