Joseph Modica and Taylor Klun.

In separate studies, second-year students Joseph Modica (left) and Taylor Klun assessed the use of MRI-compatible headrests and immobilizing longboards to aid patients.

Forum Showcases 45 Diverse Medical Student Research Projects

Published February 6, 2015 This content is archived.

story by suzanne kashuba

At the 2015 Medical Student Research Forum, aspiring physician-scientists showcased 45 original research projects they conducted at the University at Buffalo, its partner health care agencies and institutions nationwide.


A record number of participants — 49 medical students — shared their projects with peers and faculty members through diverse poster presentations.

Career Enhancement for Varied Interests

Often working as part of interdisciplinary teams, the students explored an array of topics, including novel treatments, molecular mechanisms of disease, patient perspectives and quality-of-life issues.

“These talented medical students have had the rare opportunity to experience the link between basic and clinical research in the early stages of their careers,” says Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, senior associate dean for research and graduate education.

“They now realize that the insights gained from medical research have the potential to solve many of the most challenging problems facing health care workers today, and they understand the essential role of physician-scientists.”

Top Posters Explore Progenitor Cells; Screening

A faculty panel selected five outstanding projects for special recognition, including three tying for third place and four conducted by second-year medical students.

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, presented certificates to the award-winning students (listed below) during the Jan. 29 event in the atrium of the Biomedical Education Building.

First Place

Andrew Goelz, Class of 2017

“Intracoronary Cardiosphere-Derived Cell (CDC) Infusion Improves Left Ventricular Function Without Affecting Myocardial Perfusion in a Porcine Model of Acute Myocardial Infarction”

In an experimental model, Goelz found that factors other than increased blood flow contributed to myocardial repair after infusing CDCs, a population of cardiac progenitor cells.

Mentors: Brian R. Weil, PhD; Gen Suzuki, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine; Beth A. Palka; and John M. Canty Jr., MD, Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Professor of medicine and chief of cardiovascular medicine

Second Place

Janaki Vakharia, Class of 2015

“Prevalence of Abnormal Screening Laboratory Tests in Overweight and Obese Children and Adolescents”

In a study of 409 pediatric patients, Vakharia found that screening for insulin-resistant diabetes with fasting insulin tests may be of more value in patients who also have the skin pigmentation disorder acanthosis nigricans.

Mentor: Lucy C. Holmes, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics

Third Place (three-way tie)

Meghan McLaughlin, Class of 2017

“Development of a Next-Generation Sequencing Protocol to Investigate Antibody Repertoire of Kawasaki Disease Patients”

McLaughlin sought to define a specific signature for patients with a pediatric systemic vasculitis that can lead to heart disease, including coronary aneurysms.

Mentors: Hakimuddin Sojar, PhD, and Mark D. Hicar, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics

Nicholas Georgalas, Class of 2017

“Trends and Outcomes of Opioid Prescriptions for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain in a Primary Care Clinic”

Georgalas’ chart review of 120 random patients found that opioids provided only minor relief, either alone or in combination with other therapies, yet co-occurring substance abuse was high, and common and significant side effects often required treatment.

Mentor: Muhammad Ghazi, MD

Alexander Ostapenko, Class of 2017

“A Study of Ulnar and Radial Anatomy With Cadaveric Specimens”

Ostapenko photographed and digitally analyzed hundreds of bone specimens to study adult forearm bony anatomy. He found significant differences related to race and gender, which may have applications for the surgical treatment of fractures and dislocations of the forearm and elbow.

Mentors: Victoria Tote and Malinda Sharkey, MD

Studying Bacteria, Auto Safety, Opioids and More

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

Student(s) Project Mentor(s)
Jay Amin Streptococcus pneumoniae Biofilm Response to Low pH Exposure: Implications for Bacterial Pneumonia Secondary to Acid Aspiration Bruce A. Davidson, PhD
Paul R. Knight III, MD, PhD
Beric Berlioz 
Jessica Strauss
The Impact of Vehicle Type, Weight and Price on Automobile Safety Joseph Consiglio
Dietrich V. Jehle, MD
Andrew Walton
Caroline Brotzki  Mammalian Corneal Endothelial Protein BTR1 Transports Boron in S. cerevisiae Yeast Mark D. Parker, PhD
Sangita Patel, MD, PhD
Veronica Campanella 
Taylor Klun
Abhigyan Malhotra
Patients Immobilized With a Longboard Rarely Have Highly Unstable Thoracolumbar Injuries Joseph A. Bart, DO
Brian M. Clemency, DO, MBA
Heather Lindstrom, PhD
Jacob Castiglia Patient Perspectives on Medication Adherence While Coping With Multiple Chronic Conditions Chester H. Fox, MD
Victoria M. Hall, RN, MPH
Linda S. Kahn, PhD
Bonnie Vest, PhD
Angela Wisniewski, PharmD
Margaret Zupa
Caressa Chen Evaluation of a Potential Virulence Factor in Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae Thomas A. Russo, MD
Charlotte Cipparone Accuracy of ICD-9 Codes for Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease: A Practice-Based Research Network Study Chester H. Fox, MD
Linda S. Kahn, PhD
Kim S. Kimminau, PhD
Ranjit Singh, MB BChir, MBA
Matthew Withiam-Leitch, MD, PhD
Thomas Dryzmala  Opioid Dependence and Chronic Pain: A Mixed Methods Study Richard D. Blondell, MD
Meghan Chambers
Andrew Danzo
Rachel Rizzo, MPH
Kevin Frodey Role of Prostaglandin E2 in Impairment of Dendritic Cell Differentiation Louise Carlson, PhD
David Hoekstra
Kelvin P. Lee, MD
Jayakumar Nair, PhD
Haley Spangler
Adam Utley
Daniela Ventro, PhD
Beau Froebel Bioinformatics Analysis of Utility of the Mutation-Independent Approach for Hammerhead Ribozyme Therapy of Autosomal Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa Due to Rho Mutations John M. Sullivan, MD, PhD
Nicholas Georgalas Trends and Outcomes of Opioid Prescriptions for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain in a Primary Care Clinic Muhammad Ghazi, MD
Andrew Goelz Intracoronary Cardiosphere-Derived Cell Infusion Improves Left Ventricular Function Without Affecting Myocardial Perfusion in a Porcine Model of Acute Myocardial Infarction John M. Canty Jr., MD
Beth A. Palka
Gen Suzuki, MD, PhD
Brian R. Weil, PhD

Matthew Gondek Engaging Immigrant and Refugee Women in Breast Health Education Deborah Erwin, PhD
Kim Griswold, MD, MPH
Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD
Elisa Rodriguez
Saad-Harfouche, MSW
May Shogan
Jin Guo Characterization of Taz Domains Important for the Induction of Breast Cancer Stem Cell Properties and Tumorigenesis Wiam Bshara, MD
Costa Frangou, PhD
Qiang Hu, MD, PhD
Ying-Wei Li, PhD
Song Liu, PhD
Carl D. Morrison, MD, DVM
He Shen, PhD
Lori Shepherd
Peiqing Sun, PhD
Jianmin Wang, PhD
Bo Xu, MD, PhD
Nuo Yang, PhD
Jianmin Zhang, PhD
Qianqian Zhu, PhD
Crystal Han Characterization of Striatin-3 as an Effector Protein in RAC1-GTP-Mediated Schwann Cell-Axon Interactions Caterina Berti, PhD
M. Laura Feltri, MD
Jennifer Harb Salivary Botulinum Toxin Reduces Aspiration Pneumonia in Neurologically Impaired Children John Faria, MD
Dean Yacobucci, MD
Michael P. Pizzuto, MD
Diana Hong Transcriptome Analysis in Circulating Neutrophils to Explore Signatures of Intracranial Aneurysm: Towards Diagnostic Biomarker Development Vincent Tutino
Yijun Sun, PhD
James N. Jarvis, MD
Adnan Siddiqui, MD, PhD
Kenneth V. Snyder, MDPhD
Hui Meng, PhD
Jin Kim Enhancing Neuroblastoma Immunogenicity Through Epigenetic Modification and T Regulatory Cell Blockade Randall Chan, MD
Long Hung
Sakunthala Muthugounder, PhD
Shahab Asgharzadeh, MD 
Alana Koehler Verbal Learning Following Early Brain Damage: The Efficacy and Limitations of Neural Plasticity Angela O. Ballantyne, PhD
Doris A. Trauner, MD
Lindsay Kosinski Analysis of Electrical Stimulation as a Novel Antimicrobial Approach for the Treatment of Orthopedic Infections Lisa Hansen Menachem
Mary Canty
Shauna Sauberan
Nicole R. Luke-Marshall, PhD
Mark Ehrensberger, PhD
Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD
Olivia Lucas Quality of Life Impact of Surgical Resection and Adjuvant Chemotherapy in NSCLC Patients Alex Adjei, MD, PhD
Todd L. Demmy, MD
Elisabeth U. Dexter, MD
Mark W. Hennon, MD
Miriam Huang, MD
Chukwumere Nwogu, MD
Anthony Picone, MD, PhD, MBA
Mary Reid, PhD
Wei Tan
Sai Yendamuri, MD
Sana Maheshwari Cytokine Expansion Protocols for Adoptive Immunotherapy Michael J. Donahue
Daniel T. Fisher, PhD
Minhyung Kim, MD
Joseph J. Skitski, MD
Christopher Manschreck  Escherichia coli Inhibition by Commensal Bacteria of the Female Genital Tract Betsy C. Herold, MD 
Anna-Claire Marrone Caregivers’ Perceptions of Their Child’s Asthma Lucy C. Holmes, MD
Heather K. Lehman, MD
Paul McBride Post-Stereotactic Radiosurgery Radiation Necrosis: The Three-Month Peak Andrew Fabiano, MD
Dheerendra Prasad, MD
Jingxin Qiu, MD, PhD
Duration of Post-Stereotactic Radiosurgery Radiation Necrosis Andrew Fabiano, MD
Meghan McLaughlin Development of a Next-Generation Sequencing Protocol to Investigate Antibody Repertoire of Kawasaki Disease Patients Mark D. Hicar, MD, PhD
Hakimuddin Sojar, PhD
Sarina Meikle Effect of HIV Infection on Macrophage Polarization in Human Macrophage-Like THP-1 Cells Amy Jacobs, PhD
Priyanka Saminathan, MSc
Hyun Ah Yi, PhD
Khulkar Mirzozoda Expression of Survivin Splice Variants in Malignant Glioma Michael Ciesielski, PhD
Robert A. Fenstermaker, MD
Cheryl Frank
Joseph Modica Benefit of an Intraoperative MRI-Compatible Headrest in Pediatric Neurosurgery Patients Frederick Boop, MD
Paul Klimo Jr., MD, MPH
Sarah Morse A Retrospective Chart Review of Calcium Supplementation in Special Needs Children Amanda Persaud, MD
Stacie Thoman, PharmD
Daniel Mueller Evaluation of Potential Emergency Department Guidelines for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Status Among Adults Age >75 and Older Bruce J. Naughton, MD
James Naughton
Angela Wisniewski, PharmD
Alexander Ostapenko A Study of Ulnar and Radial Anatomy With Cadaveric Specimens Malinda Sharkey, MD
Victoria Tote
Lydia Park Functional Characterization of ESR1 Mutations Found in Cancers  
John Pinski Low Level-of-Evidence and Methodological Quality of Clinical Outcome Studies on Cartilage Repair of the Ankle Lorraine A. Boakye
John G. Kennedy, MD, FRCS (Orth)
Yan Ma, PhD
Christopher D. Murawski
Keir A. Ross
Vincenzo Polsinelli Hypertension in Rural Haiti: Results From a Cross-Sectional Survey David M. Holmes, MD
Pierre-Louis Joizil
Joseph Morvillo
Ketheline Rock, RN
Nikhil Satchidanand, PhD
Robert Scagnelli
Ranjit Singh, MB BChir, MBA
John Taylor, MBA
Kathryn Williams
Samuel Racette Mechanisms of Neutrophil Activation in the Tumor Microenvironment of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Kassondra Grzankowski, MD
Anm Nazmul Khan, PhD
Brahm H. Segal, MD
Andrew Siaw-Asamoah
Patrick Rooney Characterizing the RAC1 Effector BORG4 in the Peripheral Nervous System Caterina Berti, PhD
M. Laura Feltri, MD
Kathleen Soltis 
Diva Wilson
Primary Care Physical and Mental Health Needs of Asylum Seekers Kim Griswold, MD, MPH
Pam Kefi
Jill Sperrazza A Phase I Study of Lenalidomide and Cytarabine in Relapsed/Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia William E. Brady, PhD
Laurie A. Ford
Elizabeth A. Griffiths, MD
Wei Tan
James E. Thompson, MD
Carlos E. Vigil, MD
Eunice S. Wang, MD
Meir Wetzler, MD
Kristina Tangelder Creating a Model to Examine the Result of Bone Loss on RSA Baseplate Stability Thomas R. Duquin, MD
Mark Ehrensberger, PhD
Jennifer Taylor Vitamin D and its Association With Asthma and Eczema in Pediatric Chronic Pain Patients Tracy E. Harrison, MD
Christina M. Pabelick, MD
Janaki Vakharia Prevalence of Abnormal Screening Laboratory Tests in Overweight and Obese Children and Adolescents Lucy C. Holmes, MD
Elizabeth Zoé Welch IL13Ra1 Downregulation as a Protective Factor in a Human Organ-Specific Autoimmune Disease Kristina Seiffert-Sinha, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD
Winston Wong Cardiac Autonomic Remodeling in Viable, Dysfunctional Myocardium Following Coronary Revascularization John M. Canty Jr., MD
James A. Fallavollita, MD
Stanley F. Fernandez, MD, PhD
Gen Suzuki, MD, PhD
Elliot Yu Patterns and Prevalence of Polytobacco Use Among College Students Gary Giovine, PhD
Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD