Gregory W. Roloff.

Gregory W. Roloff’s research on acute myeloid leukemia earned first place in the Medical Student Research Forum.

37 Original Projects on Display at Medical Student Research Forum

Published March 22, 2018 This content is archived.

story by bill bruton

A total of 37 original research projects from aspiring physician-scientists was on display at the 2018 Medical Student Research Forum.


In all, 43 medical students showcased projects they conducted at the University at Buffalo, its partner health care agencies and institutions throughout the nation.

Their work was shared with faculty members and peers in detailed poster presentations.

Forum Shows the Importance of Research

“The medical research forum is an excellent opportunity for potential physician-scientists to share their research experience with members of the scientific community here at the University at Buffalo. Perhaps more importantly the overall research experience exposes these medical students to the significance of research to medical advances early in their careers,” says Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, senior associate dean for research and graduate education.

The event took place Jan. 25 in the lower atrium of the sparkling new $375 million Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building in downtown Buffalo.

“There is clearly an urgent need for more physician-scientists entering today’s health care workforce and the new state-of-the-art research facilities at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are well positioned to provide many more opportunities to medical students who wish to pursue careers in translational research,” Campagnari adds.

Five Outstanding Projects Earn Recognition

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, announced the winners.

David A. Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, introduced participating students and handed out certificates of recognition.

A faculty panel selected five outstanding projects for special recognition during the event.

First Place Winner Researched Leukemia at NIH

First Place

Gregory W. Roloff, Class of 2018

“Detection and Quantification of Minimal Residual Disease in Acute Myeloid Leukemia by Targeted RNA-Sequencing”

Roloff’s project is on a specific type of leukemia called AML, which has the poorest outcomes and the most bleak prognosis.

“It is using genetic sequencing technologies to predict which patients will relapse. Ultimately if you can see if somebody is going to relapse hundreds of days down the road before that’s apparent, clinically it buys you a window of opportunity in which you might be able to intervene,” Roloff says. “We’re showing from a molecular standpoint you can predict a relapse might be happening. It’s a much more detailed look instead of a bird’s-eye view.”

Roloff had what he called a formative clinical experience at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in his third year of medical school.

“It was very transformative. It gave me a lot of direction in terms of where I wanted to go with my career,” Roloff says.

Roloff was selected for a highly prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) research program, where he spent a year researching leukemia. He is now back for his final year of medical school.

He wants to be a hematologist and work with patients with leukemia. He will do his residency in internal medicine at Loyola University in Maywood, Ill.

Research for his project was conducted at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the NIH and at Roswell Park.

His mentors/collaborators are: Laura W. Dillon, PhD; Sheida Hayati, PhD; Ilker Tunc, PhD; Medhi Pirooznia, MD, PhD; Elizabeth Griffiths, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine; and Christopher S. Hourigan, MD, PhD.

Second Place (tie)

R. Aaron Bola.

R. Aaron Bola’s research focused on the brain and body temperature effects of heroin.

R. Aaron Bola, Class of 2020

“Brain and Body Temperature Effects of Heroin: State Dependency and Environmental Modulation”

Bola’s study examined how IV heroin at a dose that maintains self-administration (0.1 mg/kg) affects brain temperature homeostasis in freely moving rats under conditions that seek to mimic conditions of human drug use.

The research demonstrated that the hyperthermic effects of heroin results primarily from inhibition of heat loss due to strong and prolonged skin vasoconstriction.

Mentor/collaborator: Eugene A. Kiyatkin, MD, PhD.

Joseph A. Brazzo III.

Joseph A. Brazzo III’s research may lead to novel treatments for cardiovascular disease.

Joseph A. Brazzo III, Class of 2020

“Mechanotransduction in Vascular Smooth Muscle: Serum Amyloid A and PIEZO as Mediators of Stiffness-Inducted Responses”

Brazzo’s study proposed a novel pathway of a mechanically sensitive SAA3-PIEZO, which potentially regulates arterial remodeling/stiffening in vasculature.

Today, no molecules or therapies exist to reverse arterial stiffening or increase compliance/elasticity. The research may lead to novel treatments for cardiovascular disease.

Mentor/collaborator: Yongho Bae, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences.

Third Place (tie)

Patricia Gianfagna.

Patricia Gianfagna’s research dealt with the association between Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy and age-related macular degeneration.

Patricia Gianfagna, Class of 2020

“Association Between Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD) and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)”

Gianfagna’s research focused on determining if an association exists between FECD and AMD and also investigated this relationship to age and gender in a clinic population.

The study concluded that results are promising in that they can help shape future guidelines for disease screening and management. Future work will focus on extending this research to investigate how the presence of FECD and/or AMD affects the development of either disease and how gender plays a role.

Mentor/collaborator: Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology.

Pramod Rao.

Pramod Rao’s research dealt with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, the most common and fatal form of ovarian cancer.

Pramod Rao, Class of 2021

“Estrogen Receptor Beta Isoform 2 (ERB2) and Mutant P53 Signaling Cross Talk in High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer: Implications for Therapeutic Response”

The purpose of this research was to use the prodrug PRIMA-1-MET — which converts mutant p53 to wild-type p53, in conjunction with the use of siRNA to knockdown ERβ2 — to disrupt the mutant p53/ERβ2 cross-talk that leads to the over-activation of FOXM1.

The aim of this approach was to induce cell death by inhibiting both cell cycle progression and DNA repair in cancer cells via decreasing FOXM1.

The study showed that FOXM1 levels were the lowest with PRIMA-1-MET at 25μM combined with a knockdown of ERβ2 compared to the treatments with either PRIMA-1-MET or the ERβ2 knockdown alone. Future studies will apply this combined therapy to test the chemosensitivity of HGSOC OVCAR3 cells to carboplatin.

Mentors/collaborators: Gokul Das, PhD; Chetan C. Oturkar, PhD.

Exploring Kidney Disease, Addiction, Cancer and More

A complete list of participants, their projects and their mentors/collaborators follows:

 Student(s)  Project Mentors/collaborators
Benjamin Balderman Iron Downregulation in the Primary Tumor and Upregulation in Benign Kidney is Associated With Progression in Renal Cell Carcinoma Kristopher M. Attwood, PhD
Christopher Greene, PhD
Eric Kauffman, MD
Nitika J. Sharma
Lester Bayona Chuye Delineation of Neuro-Ontogenic Mechanisms of Schizophrenia Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs)

Courtney Benson, PhD

Alexander J. Dimitri
Sridhar T. Narla, PhD
Pinaki Sarder, PhD
Ewa K. Stachowiak, PhD
Michal K. Stachowiak, PhD

R. Aaron Bola Brain and Body Temperature Effects of Heroin: State Dependency and Environmental Modulation Eugene A. Kiyatkin, MD, PhD
Diva Bomgaars Soar to Recovery: Development of Clinical Assessment Instrument in Opioid Addiction — A Protocol David M. Holmes, MD
Nikhil Satchidanand, PhD
Joseph A. Brazzo III Mechanotransduction in Vascular Smooth Muscle: Serum Amyloid A and Piezo as Mediators of Stiffness-Induced Responses
Yongho Bae, PhD
Nikhita Chahal Comparison of Metabolic Syndrome Elements in Caucasian and Asian Women With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Results of a Regional American Cohort Study
Marcelle I. Cedars, MD
Eleni A. Greenwood, MD
Heather G. Huddleston, MD
Chia-Ning Kao
Molly Quinn, MD
Anisha Chava The Effect of Cherry Flavoring Electronic Cigarette Aerosols on Pulmonary Inflammation
Maciej Goniewicz, PhD
Yasmin Thanavala, PhD
Xin Zhou, PhD
Esha Chebolu

Buprenorphine Treatment Outcomes of Pregnant and Parenting Women With Opioid Use Disorder

Richard D. Blondell, MD

Jessica A. Kulak, PhD

Kailey Lopian


Maria Coluccio Asylum Seekers, Exposure to Violence & Mental Health: Clinical Characteristics of Clients at the Human Rights Initiative at UB
Kim Griswold, MD, MPH

Samantha Eng Expression of IGA Proteases by Haemophilus Influenzae in Adults With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Charmaine M. Kirkham
Timothy F. Murphy, MD
Marek Falkowski Antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy as a Treatment for Acinetobacter Baumanni Infections

Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD

Lisa A. Hansen

Nicole R. Luke-Marshall, PhD

Patricia Gianfagna Association Between Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD) and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD

Ryan Hess

Connor Arquette



The Economic Value of Neurosurgical Residents

Matthew J. McPheeters, MD

Renee Reynolds, MD

Hakeem J. Shakir, MD

Ye Rin Koh
Identification and Characterization of Recombinant Antibodies for Biomarker and Clinical Use in the Autoimmune Skin Disease Pemphigus Vulgaris

Kristina Seiffert, MD

Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD

Jillian Korn Evaluating the Effectiveness of Spot Vision Screener Photoscreener in Vision Screening of Children Ages 7-13
Andrew L. Reynolds, MD
Joseph Kuhn Primary Sigmoid Vaginoplasty in Transwomen: A Single Institution Experience

Heidi Bahna, MD

Ajani Nugent, MD

Carissa Patete

Christopher Salgado, MD

Mark Lawlor
Weightbearing Cone Beam CT Scan Reveals the State of Stability of Supination External Rotation Ankle Fractures in a Cadaver Model

Melissa Kluczynski

John M. Marzo, MD

Mary M. Leeman

A Qualitative Analysis of Patient Satisfaction in Kidney Transplant Recipients

Liise K. Kayler, MD
Chong Li
Percutaneous Revascularization Alone for the Treatment of Spontaneous Right-Sided Colonic Ischemia in Poor Surgical Candidates

Hasan H. Dosluoglu, MD

Sikandar Z. Khan, MD


Clarise Lin
Protective IL-13RA1 Gene Inhibition and Effector Cytokine Secretion in the Human Autoimmune Disease Pemphigus Vulgaris
Kristina Seiffert, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD

Alexander Macfarlane

Dylan Constantino



The Buffalo Concussion Bike Test

John J. Leddy, MD
Mohammad N. Haider, MD

Barry S. Willer, PhD

Alexandra Marasco 3D Reconstruction of the Pelvis to Understand Internal Anatomic Pressures: Fusion of CT, X-Ray and Pressure Array Data to Appreciate the Mechanics of Female Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Tova S. Ablove, MD
Scott T. Doyle, PhD

Frank C. Mendel, PhD

Keity Mey Okazaki
Using Doppler Ultrasound to Measure Vertebral Artery Stenosis

Vernard Fennell, MD
Hakeem J. Shakir, MD

Hussain Shallwani, MD

Andrew Pasquale Two Cases of Orbital Metastases From Male Breast Cancer

Bryant P. Carruth, MD

Robert H. Hill III, MD

Vamsee Neerukonda, MD

George Salloum, MD

Alexandr M. Pinkhasov Differentiating Clinically Significant From Insignificant Biochemical Recurrence After Radical Prostatectomy Using Low Detectable Prostate-Specific Antigen

Kristopher M. Attwood, PhD

Khurshid A. Guru, MD

Ahmed A. Hussein, MD

Gaybrielle James

James L. Mohler, MD

Ruben M. Pinkhasov, MD

Elena Pop, MD

Rebeccah Stevens     

Vincenzo B. Polsinelli

Lisa M. Saffire

Jon C. Zelasko

Connor J. Orrico

Kimberly Wong

Preliminary Assessment of Childhood Malnutrition and Family Socioeconomic Status in Rural Haiti

Lauren Angiers

Vijay H. Aswani, MD, PhD

Jesula Audate

Kincio Dorvil

Maureen Fagan

Pramod Rao

Estrogen Receptor Beta Isoform 2 (ERB2) and Mutant P53 Signaling Cross Talk in High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer: Implications for Therapeutic Response

Gokul Das, PhD

Chetan C. Oturkar, PhD

Gregory W. Roloff Detection and Quantification of Minimal Residual Disease in Acute Myeloid Leukemia by Targeted RNA-Sequencing

Laura W. Dillon, PhD
Elizabeth Griffiths, MD

Sheida Hayati, PhD

Christopher S. Hourigan, MD, PhD

Medhi Pirooznia, MD, PhD

Ilker Tunc, PhD

Teigan Ruster
Prevalence of Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy and Association With Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy
Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD
Brienne Ryan
Modified Sub-Xiphoid Pericardial Window Technique
Ashok Muniappan, MD

Natasha Singh Comparison of Intraethecal Versus Perispinal Anti-TNF Antibody Injections: Effects on Antinociception and Cognition During Neuropathic Pain
Adriana Pons Calvo
Tracey A. Ignatowski, PhD

Thor Vandehei

Characterization of the PEG1860 and PEG344 Genes on the Virulence Plasmid of Hypervirulent Klebsiella Pneumoniae

Jan Beanan

Ulrike B. Carlino-MacDonald

Ruth Olson
Thomas A. Russo, MD

Michelle Whittum
Gynecologic Organ Involvement in Bladder Cancer: Is Anterior Exenteration Necessary?

Youssef E. Ahmed, MD

Neil B. Huben

Khurshid A. Guru, MD

Ahmed A. Hussein, MD

Hijab Khan

Collin Krasowski

Qiang Li, MD, PhD

Paul R. May

Nicolette Winder
The Effect of β-AR Signaling on the Metabolism of CD8+ T Cells During Activation
Bonnie H. Hylander, PhD
Cameron MacDonald
Guanxi Qiao
Elizabeth A. Repasky, PhD
Kimberly M. Wong

Circulating Cardiac miRNAs Distinguish Ischemic vs. Non-Ischemic Myocardial Injury in Swine

John M. Canty Jr., MD

Michael J. Rodman
Cody Smith
Brian R. Weil, PhD

Rebeccah F. Young

Anthony Yan Inferring Cerebral Aneurysm Progression and Predicting Rupture From Morphometric and Hierarchical Classification
John Kolega, PhD

Charles Zhang Independent Predictors of Atrial Fibrillation in Cryptogenic Embolic Stroke Patients With Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Carina Alfaro-Franco

Marilou I. Ching, MD, MPH

Christopher J. Deline, MD

Amit Kandel, MD

Robert N. Sawyer Jr., MD