Medical Students’ Research Work Highlighted at Forum

Published March 4, 2019

story by bill bruton

Thirty-four original research projects from aspiring physician-scientists were on display at the 2019 Medical Student Research Forum.


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

They shared their work with faculty members and peers in detailed poster presentations.

Forum Shows the Importance of Research

“Once again, this year’s Medical Student Research Forum was a great success, and the overall importance of this specific event to the future of translational research can not be overstated,” said Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, senior associate dean for research and graduate education. “There continues to be growing concern over the lack of physician-scientists being trained in this country, and one of the best ways to address this critical problem is to provide research opportunities to these aspiring young medical scientists early in their careers.”

Campagnari also noted the impact the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building in downtown Buffalo has had on research since its opening a little more than a year ago.

“This new building has significantly increased the number of research opportunities for our medical students by bringing clinical and basic scientists together in one impressive facility,” Campagnari said.

Top Posters Study Cancer, Eye Diseases, MS

David A. Milling, MD, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, introduced participating students and announced the winners.

A faculty panel selected three outstanding projects for special recognition during the event, which took place Jan. 24 in the atrium of the Jacobs School building.

First Place

Kaity H. Tung, Class of 2021

“Melanoma-Derived Exosomes and Their Role in Inducing Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts”

Tung’s research demonstrated that human melanoma-derived exosomes (HMEX) may have the potential to induce normal human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) into cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs).

“It’s an extension to a theory that was proposed a long time ago called the seed and soil hypothesis. It explains the non-random metastatic pattern of cancer,” Tung said.

“The hypothesis, established in 1889 by Stephen Paget, states that there are certain organs in the body that are like fertile soil, and they’re more prone to seeding by cancer cells than any other tissues in the body,” Tung said. “We’re showing that exosomes derived from the cancer may in fact promote tumor progression by generating a pre-metastatic niche through the induction of CAFs.”

Tung’s research was done as part of the Summer Research Fellowship Program.

Mentors/collaborators: Cheryl Allen; Marc S. Ernstoff, MD, professor of medicine; and Shin La Shu, PhD.

Second Place

Alexandra C. Sima, Class of 2021

“Association Between Three Basement Membrane Diseases of the Eye: Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy, Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration”

Sima’s research showed a correlation between Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) and the other two issues: anterior basement membrane dystrophy (ABMD) and/or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The purpose of this study was to systematically evaluate that correlation. Researchers hypothesized that patients with FECD were more likely than those without FECD to have an additional basement membrane disease, either ABMD, AMD, or both.

The study included 430 subjects, 60 percent of whom were female. Researchers found that the prevalence of ABMD and AMD increased in patients who also have FECD. By raising awareness of a correlation between these diseases, ophthalmologists may proactively evaluate and treat for the other basement membrane diseases to improve visual outcomes for these patients.

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

Third Place

Alissa Nizinski, Class of 2020

“Cognitive Profiles of Aging in Multiple Sclerosis”

Nizinski sought to determine whether neurocognitive impairment is influenced by age in the elderly with multiple sclerosis (EwMS) using both MS- and Alzheimer’s disease-specific psychometrics.

A total of 56 age-matched healthy controls were assessed on multiple domains, including language, visual-spatial, memory and executive function.

Results showed that age had minimal influence on the degree of neurocognitive impairment in EwMS. With the aged MS population growing due to improving prognosis, future studies investigating additional age-associated comorbidities and disease-related factors that influence cognitive aging are warranted.

Mentors/collaborators: Ralph H. Benedict, PhD, professor of neurology; Tom Fuchs; Laura Hancock, PhD; Dejan Jakimovski, MD; Michael Jaworski III; Shumita Roy; Pavitra Srinivasan; Kinga Szigeti, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology; Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, professor of neurology; and Robert Zivadinov, MD, PhD, professor of neurology.

Studying Cancer, Diabetes, Kidney Disease

Participants researched many important areas in their projects:

Student(s) Project Mentors/collaborators
Casey Cabrinha
Investigation of Anti-Desmoglein IgG Subtypes in Pemphigus Vulgaris Patients Treated With SYNT001 — Dissecting the Immunonodulary Action of New Therapeutic

Kristina Seiffert, MD

Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD


Michael Campbell Chromatin Accessibility in Hematopoietic Cells; to What Extent Does Differential Accessibility Contribute to Functional Phenotype

James N. Jarvis, MD

Tao Liu, PhD

Evan Tarbell

Christian G. Cavalieri Increased Passive Left Ventricular Stiffness Despite Normal Active Myocardial Relaxation in Swine Subjected to Repetitive Pressure Overload

John M. Canty Jr., MD

Cody Smith

Brian R. Weil, PhD

Rebeccah F. Young

Michael Cobler-Lichter Acceptability of Animated Video Medium to Educate Kidney Transplant Patients

Natalia Crenesse-Cozien

Thomas H. Feeley, PhD

Liise K. Kayler, MD

Lauren Lewis

Maria Coluccio Prevalence of Clinical Sequelae Associated With Exposure to Violence in Asylum Seeking Clients: The Human Rights Initiative at the University at Buffalo Kim Griswold, MD
Natalia Crenesse-Cozien Perceptions Among African-Americans About the Process of Kidney Transplant Evaluation: Inferences From Qualitative Interviews

Beth A. Dolph, PhD

Thomas H. Feeley, PhD

Liise K. Kayler, MD

Meriem I. Said

Max Crinnin Let’s Really Talk: A Retrospective Analysis of Online Medical Direction Review From a Tertiary Care Emergency Department Jason A. Borton, MD
Sara Diletti-Swenson
Use of Preoperative Blue Light Treatments to Prevent Orthopedic Infections

Swati Bhargava, MD

John K. Crane, MD, PhD

John Lewis Etter
X-Linked Association Between Familial Ovarian Cancer and Testicular Cancer

Kevin H. Eng, PhD

Shashikant B. Lele, MD

Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD

Adekunle O. Odunsi, MD, PhD

Ayobami Fatunmbi Prognostic Value of Renal Resistive Index in Deceased Donor Kidneys Undergoing Hypothermic Machine Perfusion

Michael Casey, MD

Liise K. Kayler, MD

Michelle Lubetzky, MD

Monami Majumder

Andrew Fink Generation of Vectors Containing Candidate POU4F2 and EBF3 Enhancers in the Study of Retinal Ganglion Cell Development

Mobin Cheng, PhD

Xiuqian Mu, MD, PhD

Fuguo Wu, PhD

Jenna Herskind

Jon Zelasko

The Outpatient Management of Hypertension at Two Sierra Leonean Health Centers: A Mixed-Method Investigation of Follow-Up Appointment Compliance and Patient Reported Barriers to Care

Karlin Bacher

David M. Holmes, MD

Austin J. Iovoli



Routine Surveillance Scanning in HNSCC: Lung Screening CT Scans Have Value But Head and Neck Scans Do Not

Hassan Arshad, MD

Luke Degraaff

William D. Duncan, PhD

Vishal Gupta, MD

Wesley L. Hicks, MD

Moni A. Kuriakose, MD

Alexis J. Platek

Mary E. Platek, PhD

Anurag K. Singh, MD

Chong Wang

Kimberly E. Wooten, MD

Amit Jhaveri
Network Analysis Identifies MicroRNA 532-5P and Ephrin A4 as Mediators of Vascular Smooth Muscle Calcification

Jane A. Leopold, MD

Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD

Ruisheng Wang, PhD

Andrew Kelly Retinal Progenitor Cells Expressing GADD45A Represent a Unique Population Competent for Differentiation

Xiuqian Mu, MD, PhD

Fuguo Wu, MD, PhD

Ye Rin Koh Triglycerides, Creatinine and BMI Are Independent Predictors of Occurrence of Stroke in Patients Adherent With Novel Oral Anticoagulant Treatment for Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation Marilou I. Ching, MD
Katherine Lee
Quality of Life Measures for Childhood Asthma: How Do Parent and Child Assessments Compare?  

Lucy C. Holmes, MD

Stacie Lampkin, PharmD

Brian H. Wrotniak, PhD

Jennifer Loo

Development of a Mouse Model of the Combinational Therapy of Interferon Alpha and Anti-Programmed Cell Death-1 Antibody in Melanoma

Daniel Fisher, PhD

Minhyung Kim, MD

Joseph Skitzki, MD

Alexandra Marrone
Gender Representation in Pediatric Surgery Authorship

Loren Berman, MD

David H. Rothstein, MD

Clare Martin
Emergency Department Medication Assisted Treatment and Referral Network

Brian Clemency, DO

Joshua J. Lynch, DO

Anthony Mitchell



The Effect of Cast Length on Fracture Repair Integrity in Bennett Fractures

Robert H. Ablove, MD

Erik Bradley, MD

Jacob Mojeski Use of Skin-Mimicking Layer to Determine Efficacy of Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection  

Megan E. Fitzgerald

Gyorgy Paragh, MD, PhD

Angelia Stepien

Alissa Nizinski
Cognitive Profiles of Aging in Multiple Sclerosis

Ralph H. Benedict, PhD

Tom Fuchs

Laura Hancock, PhD

Dejan Jakimovski, MD

Michael Jaworski III

Shumita Roy

Pavitra Srinivasan

Kinga Szigeti, MD, PhD

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD

Robert Zivadinov, MD, PhD

Connor J. Orrico

Jon Zelasko

The Prevalence of Acute and Chronic Malnutrition Among Children Under Five in a Rural Haitian Town: A Population Based Survey

Vijay H. Aswani, MD, PhD

Vincenzo B. Polsinelli, MD

Brendan Plotke
Risk Factors for Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD)

Amy E. Millen, PhD

Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD

Kyungduk Rho
Using Machine Learning to Predict Vasospasm Following Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Jason M. Davies, MD, PhD
Alexandra C. Sima

Association Between Three Basement Membrane Diseases of the Eye: Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy, Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD
Natalie Tjota Alteration of Tissue Vitamin A Homeostasis in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Nina Isoherranen, PhD

Hyun-Young Jeong, PhD

Kyoung-Jae Won, PhD

Guo Zhong, PhD

Alison M. Treichel Tuberous Sclerosis Complex: Phenotypic Distinctions Between Germline Disease, Generalized Mosaicism, and Segmental Mosaicism

Thomas N. Darling, MD, PhD

Vissaagan Gopalakrishnan

Lana Hamieh, MD

Amanda M. Jones

Patricia Julien-Williams

David J. Kwiatkowski, MD, PhD

Joel Moss, MD, PhD

Neera R. Nathan, MD

Oyetewa Oyerinde, MD

Sorana Raiciulescu

Magdalena E. Tyburczy, PhD

Ji-an Wang

Kaity H. Tung
Melanoma-Derived Exosomes and Their Role in Inducing Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts

Cheryl Allen

Marc S. Ernstoff, MD

Shin La Shu, PhD

Aaron M. van Dyne
Differential Gene Expression in Macrophages Following Exosome Treatment Jennifer K. Lang, MD
Hua Xing Yang

Role of Exosomes in Diabetic Retinopathy

Joshua Jianxin Wang, MD

Sarah X. Zhang, MD

Jon Zelasko
Where There is No Plumpy Nut: A Review of the Literature on the Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition Where Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food Is Unavailable David M. Holmes, MD
Charles Zhang
Effect of Enchroma Filter on Color Vision Screening Using Ishihara and Farnsworth D-15 Color Vision Charts

Brandon C. Clair, MD

Andrew L. Reynolds, MD

Vineela Varikuti, PhD