Outstanding Medical School Faculty, Staff Honored in 2024

By Dirk Hoffman

Published June 6, 2024

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences celebrated scientific achievements and outstanding service and teaching contributions during its 2024 Faculty and Staff Recognition Awards event.


This year’s event took place May 30 in the Ronald I. Dozoretz, MD ’62, Auditorium in the Jacobs School building. 

2024 Stockton Kimball Award

Jian Feng.

Jian Feng, PhD

Jian Feng, PhD, UB Distinguished Professor of physiology and biophysics, an internationally renowned scientist who has dedicated his life to studying Parkinson’s disease, is this year’s winner of the Stockton Kimball Award for outstanding scientific achievement and service.

In addition to his long-term research focus on finding the cause and a cure for Parkinson’s disease, he has also contributed to the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and autism research in collaborative investigations.

Feng’s research has centered on elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease using patient-derived neurons.

“His exceptional contributions to the field of Parkinson’s disease research have garnered widespread recognition and paved the way for significant advances in understanding and potentially treating this challenging condition,” said Suzanne G. Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs, in announcing the award.

Feng will deliver the Stockton Kimball Lecture in 2025.

Dean’s Award

The award recognizes individuals who have provided extraordinary service to the school and who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference.

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, noted that she personally chooses the recipients.

“Dr. Bisson embodies excellence, dedication, and innovation in the field of medicine, seamlessly balancing multiple roles, each representing a facet of his exceptional career,” she said.

In his roles at the Jacobs School and as the president of UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Bisson's expertise in musculoskeletal health is well-recognized, Brashear noted.

“His impact extends beyond academia; he serves as the medical director for the Buffalo Bills, a role that has garnered him national recognition and prestigious awards.”

“Notably, he was a member of the team that provided on-field care for Bills safety Damar Hamlin when he suffered cardiac arrest.”

Brashear said Bisson’s commitment to public health is evident in his leadership of an initiative to bring hands-only CPR training to underserved communities in Buffalo.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation awarded him a $300,000 grant to address barriers to bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator (CPR/AED) training in these communities.

The goal is to train 60 providers as AHA-certified CPR instructors and to educate 8,000 Western New York student-athletes and their families in hands-only CPR/AED use.

In addition to his role with the Buffalo Bills, Bisson is the medical director for the Buffalo Sabres and the orthopaedic surgeon for SUNY Buffalo State University.

“His recent appointment as the associate dean of clinical transformation promises to bring significant advancements to our institution and the broader Western New York community,” Brashear said.

Larry Daniel.

Security officer Larry Daniel, a beloved member of the Jacobs School community, was the recipient of a Dean’s Award.

Brashear noted Daniel is a beloved figure at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, known for sharing a smile or a laugh with students, staff, and faculty alike.

In addition to his role at the Jacobs School, Daniel is the pastor of St. James House of Prayer Church of God in Christ.

His connection with the Jacobs School has led to collaborative events between the school and his congregation, further strengthening community ties.

“Larry’s commitment to serving the community extends to his daily patrols at the Jacobs School, where he views his duties as part of his ministry,” Brashear said. “His work as a pastor and security officer is intertwined with his belief in the goodness of humankind, which gives him strength in the face of hardship. Larry’s proactive approach to addressing local health issues is commendable.”

Recognizing a critical need within his church community and neighborhood, he collaborated closely with the Jacobs School’s Department of Surgery to establish the free Kickstart Buffalo Foot Clinic.

Furthermore, Daniel leveraged his connections with the school to educate his parishioners about COVID-19. By providing reliable information during the pandemic, he played a vital role in ensuring the well-being of his community.

“Larry’s actions exemplify the positive impact that individuals can make when they actively engage with their surroundings and prioritize community health,” Brashear said. “Larry’s dedication to the well-being of his community and the Jacobs School makes him a true pillar of Western New York.”

Allison Brashear, Ryan Cameron and Suzanne Laychock.

Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, left, after presenting Ryan Cameron with the John P. Naughton Award. At right is Suzanne G. Laychock, PhD.

John P. Naughton Award

The John P. Naughton, MD, Award was established in 1999 by Naughton, who served as dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for 23 years.

This award recognizes outstanding staff members. They are often among the “unsung heroes” of the school’s evolution and forward movement, individuals who contribute significantly to the advancement of the school and to the fulfillment of its mission.

Cameron’s responsibilities include handling death calls and speaking with family members, completing and filing death certificates, traveling out to collect donors at the time of their passing, embalming the individuals that are brought into the program, moving bodies between campuses for dissection, and transporting bodies for cremation.

“He is committed to his role and demonstrates an unwavering dedication to the success of the program. Ryan is the longest-serving funeral director here at the Jacobs School,” Laychock said.

Cameron demonstrated remarkable leadership when there were serious problems identified in the Anatomical Gift Program in January 2022, she noted.

“Ryan played a key role in the restructuring effort and was pivotal in getting the program on a secure footing. He devotedly worked long hours and defused difficult situations.”

“He helped put the Anatomical Gift Program on a more transparent track, worked with faculty to create procedure manuals, trained all employees, secured appropriate training credentials and brought in UB North Campus officials to further strengthen the procedures used and the training of employees,” Laychock said.

“Receiving the Naughton Award allows the Jacobs School to show our appreciation for Ryan in a critical but often overlooked and underappreciated position, and for his tireless efforts overseeing the Anatomical Gift Program.”

Alan Lesse, James Wild and Allison Brashear.

James E. Wild, MD, center, was presented the Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award by Alan J. Lesse, MD. The award recognizes those who practice “the art of medicine.” Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, is at right.

Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award

The Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award in the Art of Medicine is presented annually in memory of Robert S. Berkson. 

“Dr. Berkson was loved by his patients, respected by colleagues and students, and his special expertise in the ‘Art of Medicine’ is meant to be perpetuated in this award,” said Alan J. Lesse, MD, associate dean for medical curriculum.

“Dr. Wild has made remarkable contributions to the field of family medicine, particularly in the education and training of future physicians,” he said.

Wild has served as a preceptor in the first-year clinical skills course and in the family medicine clerkship for over 20 years. Additionally, he has precepted students and residents in rural family medicine electives for more than 30 years.

“His dedication to teaching has been invaluable to the Department of Family Medicine,” Lesse said. “Twice recognized as Preceptor of the Year, Dr. Wild has been especially influential in the rural family medicine rotation, where students gain hands-on experience working with a true ‘family doctor’ who serves the underserved rural population of Western New York.”

Wild’s clinical research, focused on safer pharmacologic management of pain, has been published and presented at national conferences, further demonstrating his commitment to advancing medical knowledge.

“Dr. Wild is a cornerstone of the medical community in northern Chautauqua, northern Cattaraugus, and southern Erie County,” Lesse noted. “He has maintained a family medicine practice in Gowanda for over 30 years, serving generations of patients with unwavering dedication.”

Beyond his clinical practice, Wild has played a vital role in community and regional health care, serving on various boards. Notably, as Chair of the Board, he was instrumental in navigating the TLC Health Network through complex merger negotiations to maintain essential health care services in the Southern Tier.

Joseph Love Scholastic Leadership Award

Five medical students were awarded the fourth annual Joseph Robert Love Scholastic Leadership Award, which recognizes inspirational leadership for groundbreaking service and dedication to advancing the Jacobs School’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and social justice.

Joseph Robert Love, MD, was the first Black graduate with a medical degree from the University at Buffalo, and was a teacher, a physician, a clergyman, a politician and an activist.

The awards were presented by Anyango Kamina, PhD, interim unit diversity officer at the Jacobs School.

The students are:

  • Michael Augustin, Class of 2025

He is one of the founding members of the Jonathan Daniels Chapter of White Coats for Black Lives.

Through this chapter, students can participate in health equity initiatives in local Buffalo communities, and work with local Buffalo public schools on educational programs that introduce students to medicine.

  • Teara Robinson, Class of 2027

She is the vice president of the Student National Medical Association and Sight Savers at the Jacobs School.

Robinson developed a Black History Month program at Persistence Prep Academy where she taught students how to embrace their hair, learn about Black heroes, and about different health professions.

She has also worked to increase knowledge about glaucoma in Black communities through her research and outreach.

  • Abena Ansah-Yeboah, Class of 2025

As the inaugural fellow of the Department of Surgery’s Summer Diversity Research Mentorship Program, she worked closely alongside physicians, academic historians, community leaders and local residents of the Fruit Belt neighborhood to delineate gaps in medical education and accessibility contributing to health care disparities within the city.

She was also instrumental in the development of  Kickstart Buffalo, a long-term community-based initiative focused on diabetes education, mobility issues, peripheral vascular disease and stroke prevention.

  • Brayan Leandro Calle Gonzalez, Class of 2026

As the community affairs coordinator at the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic, he works to increase accessibility to health care in the Buffalo community, he tables at multiple community events on weekends to not only build community ties with the Buffalo community, but to increase opportunity to improve health equity in access to and quality of care.

He also serves as a New York state mentor where he spends time with students introducing them to the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics).

  • Ademola Adegbemigun, Class of 2025

He has been actively involved with UB Heals where he has played a vital role in the street medical outreach program aimed at addressing health care disparities among homeless communities.

As secretary for the Jonathan Daniels Chapter of White Coats for Black Lives, he has co-hosted interactive sessions at science fairs for high school students.

Adegbemigun has volunteered with Seventh-Generation Operation, which focuses on educating high school students in indigenous communities about various health professions.

Group of awardees with their plaques.

Front row, from left, Iris R. Danzinger, MD; Catherine Lawton; Narayan Dhimal, PhD; and Emily Isenhart. Back row, from left, Daniel LaRosa; Daniel Damiola Olutalabi, MD; Jamaal B. Williams, PhD; and Anyango Kamina, PhD. 

Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity

Awards of Excellence for Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity recognize individuals whose actions, example and efforts contribute to a respectful and supportive environment at the university and in the Western New York community.

The following awards were presented by Kamina:


Danzinger was recognized for her work in ensuring department and regional programming are focused on the care of the LGBTQIA+ community, and for serving on the Buffalo Hearing and Speech board of directors and as medical director where she is actively involved in the care and treatment of the hearing-impaired community.

Additionally, she has provided training to community members on CPR, Narcan use, and Stop the Bleed.

Community Service Award

Williams was recognized for his work in increasing science literary in minoritized communities in an effort to increase diverse participation in science research, thereby promoting the development of solutions that work for populations who have been historically excluded from or even harmed by health care research.

Williams has created Community Health Speaks, an organization that brings UB faculty and local residents from various backgrounds together to promote awareness about the transformative potential of research in addressing health disparities. Through this organization he has hosted several events focused on genetic literacy.

Staff Award

He is being recognized for his leadership in implementing various programs and initiatives on diversity in the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

LaRosa is a founding member of the LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association Committee, which works to connect UB and the WNY LGBTQ community and host events to recruit staff and faculty to UB.

Medical Student Award

  • Catherine Lawton, Class of 2025

She is being honored for her work in establishing the UB branch of Medical Students for Disabilities and Chronic Illness and for her work with the People Against Trafficking Humans Clinic, where they provide health care to women who have been trafficked, abused or mistreated.

Medical Resident Award

He was recognized for his dedication to mentorship and helping build a connection to prospective medical students, especially those from the local Buffalo community.

Olutalabi serves as the faculty adviser for the UB chapter of Student National Medical Association where he has led the students in the organization in organizing health fairs, community outreach events, and educational workshops that promote health equity and cultural competence among health care professionals.

Graduate Student Award

She was honored for her work with Buffalo Public Schools to promote equal opportunity in STEM experiences, educating local high school students in basic lab techniques and the cultural context of historical scientific breakthroughs.

Additionally, she has helped develop a curriculum for clinicians in gender queer and transgender health with the goal of employing dedicated clinic hours thereby decreasing barriers to LGBTQIA+ cancer screening in the community.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Award

Dhimal was recognized for his work in UB’s Institute for Myelin and Glia Exploration’s committee on equity, diversity and inclusion where he served for over three years. In this role he organized events in celebration of diversity and prepared mission statements and guidelines to promote inclusion.

Service Awards

60 Years

50 Years

40 Years

30 Years