Published September 29, 2021
Third-year medical student Geoffrey Bocobo has had a very productive year thus far in 2021.
The native of Villanova, Pennsylvania, has been honored with three awards:
Bocobo was awarded the HIMSS Foundation award for a combination of his involvements as a medical student, for his role in co-founding and leading a medical device company, and for big data research he is involved in on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
“It was a very uplifting experience being able to attend the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas in early August, where I made some invaluable connections with various like-minded individuals,” he says.
In 2019, Bocobo and three others co-founded Medsix, a medical technology startup in Boston. The company focuses on developing novel biosensors for wound drainage monitoring and predictive software tools for improving patient outcomes.
“In a post-operative setting, many patients necessitate a surgical drain after complex procedures. As the standard of care is manual monitoring of the drain output — we believe that real-time data can enhance post-operative care, possibly reducing the burden of complications, both in the hospital and at home,” he explains.
“To accomplish this, we built a color and flow sensor that can be attached in-line with any commercially available tubing to automatically monitor and transmit metrics about the fluid output to a remote user interface.”
“After early success with prototyping, animal trials and an approved clinical trial at a teaching hospital, our company is now deciding on the best use case for our technology before next steps,” Bocobo says.
AOA named Bocobo a Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellow for the molecular epidemiology research he is working on in the laboratory of Christine B. Ambrosone, PhD, at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also a research professor in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
“With the aid of a few big data/statistical tools such as R, we are exploring the interplay between race, circulating cytokines, health and lifestyle factors, and breast cancer risk and disparities,” he says.
Bocobo notes that one of Ambrosone’s goals is to unearth various biopsychosocial and genetic reasons for why African American women have an increased risk of, and worse outcomes for, certain types of breast cancer.
“Studies have shown that when women are grouped by race, they express different cytokine profiles,” Bocobo says. “In other studies, some of these differentially expressed inflammatory markers have been reported as implicated in breast cancer pathogenesis.”
“Using a dataset that Dr. Ambrosone and her colleagues have amassed over many years, my project is to explore whether a different cytokine profile is indeed present between racial groupings,” he says. “Subsequently, I plan to investigate which non-genetic lifestyle and health factors possibly drive a perturbed level of inflammatory cytokines in African American women, as this may create an endogenous environment that is aberrantly more conducive to breast cancer development.”
He says the goal is to elucidate potentially causative and contributive factors as to why African American women have poorer prognoses and risk for certain subtypes of breast cancer.
“Our group hopes to make an impact and reduce this disparity by reporting important findings, as this epidemiological phenomenon is incompletely understood,” Bocobo adds.
The Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship is an immersive eight-week program designed to support student entrepreneurs.
Run in partnership with Future Founders, the 2021 Summer Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship empowered 55 student startups with entrepreneurial resources, mentorship, education and financial assistance.
“I was selected to represent the University at Buffalo as a Launchpad Fellow for the work I lead in my startup,” Bocobo says. “I recently completed that wonderful fellowship.”
On the topic of health care innovation, Bocobo says that everyone is smart and talented in their own unique way, and as a result are full of wonderful ideas.
“For some reason though, many people get indoctrinated with the belief that it is likely impossible to take an idea to fruition that is a scalable business,” he says. “I want to show our Buffalo community that this is not the case, which is why my local project for the Jacobs School Leadership Track is the creation of a framework that actively promotes health care innovation and collaboration of nearby institutes, in order to champion medical student entrepreneurship on our campus.”
As a third-year medical student, Bocobo says he is using this year to evaluate where his interests and competencies lie.
“I want to see what truly makes me tick,” he says. “Involvement in health care innovation is of paramount interest to me. It is my belief that although biomedical research is the bedrock of clinical medicine, and seeing patients is our main training focus, there exist many ways to effectively and sometimes more quickly impact patient populations that are most in need.”
“My goal will be to choose a specialty that I not only enjoy, but also one where I can leverage my clinical knowledge to help technologies and much-needed initiatives come to fruition,” Bocobo adds.
He envisions this could take the shape of venture investing in small companies solving unmet health problems, strategic health care consulting for companies that are large stakeholders in the medical world, or broadly helping people push through initiatives that champion health care transformation.
“There are a multitude of areas that one can innovate in — from maternal health to remote patient monitoring, to biotechnology, to social determinants of health — the list goes on and on,” Bocobo says. “As such, I hope to become a hybrid clinician and innovator.”