Sanjay Sethi, MD, right, accepts the 2019 Stockton Kimball Award for outstanding scientific achievement and service from Michael E. Cain, MD.

Outstanding Jacobs School Faculty, Staff Earn Honors

Published August 26, 2019

story by bill bruton

An innovative researcher and others who have made significant contributions to their fields and to the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences were honored with 2019 Faculty-Staff Recognition Awards.


The following awards were presented:

2019 Stockton Kimball Award

Sanjay Sethi, MD

Sanjay Sethi, MD, professor of medicine and assistant vice president for health sciences, received the award for his outstanding scientific achievement and service.

As chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, Sethi specializes in pulmonology, and his primary clinical and research interest is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He is listed as one of the top five COPD specialists in the country.

“Dr. Sethi has exemplified excellence in its broadest sense, and we at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are fortunate to have the benefit of his extensive contributions to his field, the university and school,” said Suzanne G. Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and facilities, in presenting the award.

His research spans his interests in COPD and respiratory infections, especially in the causation, treatment and prevention of COPD exacerbations. His recent work has utilized contemporary “omics,” including studies of the microbiome, epigenome and system biology.

He is currently funded as co-principal investigator on a Department of Defense grant and site investigator for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) trial.

Sethi was also a co-investigator on the Clinical and Translational Science Award given to the Jacobs School in 2015 and has served as principal investigator on single and multisite research grants funded by the NIH, industry and Veterans Affairs Merit Awards.

Sethi will deliver the Stockton Kimball Lecture in 2020.

Dean’s Award

Michael E. Cain, MD, presents the Dean’s Award to Alan J. Lesse, MD, right, and the John P. Naughton Award to Tanya Biscardi.

Alan J. Lesse, MD

Alan J. Lesse, MD, senior associate dean for medical curriculum, played a key role in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation for the Jacobs School as the faculty accreditation lead.

“Dr. Lesse led a superb and dedicated team of faculty, staff and students who together devoted substantial effort over a two-year period to assemble the three major documents and to prepare for the three-day peer review site visit that are essential to the LCME accreditation process,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School.

“These documents and our presentations to the LCME site visit team detailed our continuous efforts to be compliant with the 12 standards and their 96 elements that define critical areas of our medical education curriculum and our learning environment. The 2019 Dean’s Award recognizes Dr. Lesse’s outstanding leadership and the extraordinary work by the team,” Cain added.

Lesse is responsible for coordinating and implementing all activities pertaining to the medical school’s curriculum. This includes development, educational research, outcome evaluation and the enhancement of teaching effectiveness.

Lesse is an associate professor of medicine, pharmacology and toxicology and microbiology and immunology. He serves as vice chair for education in the Department of Medicine and chief of infectious disease for the VA Western New York Healthcare System.

In 2014 he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

John P. Naughton Award

Tanya Biscardi

“Your dedication and hard work above and beyond expectations in preparing for our LCME accreditation site visit exemplify the spirit that John Naughton envisioned when he created this award,” Cain said of Biscardi, senior accreditation and quality improvement administrator.

“Your work ethic, attention to detail, organizational skills and contributions were significant as we prepared for and hosted the accreditation site visit,” Cain added.

Named for a former medical school dean, this award recognizes outstanding staff members or volunteers who contribute significantly to the advancement of the medical school and its mission.

Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award

John D. Hall, MD, poses with Michael E. Cain, MD, left, and Alan J. Lesse, MD, right, after accepting the Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award.

John D. Hall, MD

As chair of the Faculty Council Elections and Bylaws Committee, he played a large role in rewriting the Faculty Council bylaws. Hall, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, was also part of the committee that created the Volunteer Faculty Policy, and he was influential in developing promotions policies for volunteers and all other policies revised by the Faculty Council during his four years on the Steering Committee.

“Over the last several years I can think of no one who has contributed more to faculty governance than John Hall,” was a comment made in nominating Hall for the honor.

Cain also noted his excellent reputation as a clinical instructor who also teaches medical students in his outpatient internal medicine practice.

“We need many more John Halls,” was another comment made about the doctor. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

This award recognizes volunteer faculty members for their patient care and teaching abilities. It is named for a Buffalo internist and medical school alumnus who was actively involved in teaching medical students and residents.

Awards of Excellence for Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity

These awards recognize individuals who work to create a welcoming climate of respect and inclusiveness for all at the medical school, at UB and in the Western New York communities.

“These awards recognize that a diverse and inclusive campus community enhances excellence in research and academic medicine by broadening and strengthening teaching, learning, scholarship and service to the community that are key to the school’s mission,” said Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, in presenting the awards.

Faculty Award

Jessy J. Alexander, PhD, center, poses with Michael E. Cain, MD, and Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, after accepting the Faculty Award.

Alexander is the current secretary of the UB faculty senate, has served on the inclusion and engagement of international students-recruitment and communications committee, and she works toward implementing programs to encourage globalization at UB.

She also teaches cultural competency in health care and mentors undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds.

This year, Alexander received a Fulbright scholarship to work at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, where she will be able to conduct research on systemic lupus erythematosus.

“Dr. Alexander is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion at the Jacobs School and her community,” Dubocovich said.

Staff Award

Joanna R. Barthelemy, PhD, center, poses with Michael E. Cain, MD, and Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, after accepting the Staff Award.

Barthelemy was nominated by five graduate students for her constant commitment to their professional development and expert guidance.

She was honored for her willingness to share her knowledge and resources with the students and for helping students navigate the graduate school process to allow them to succeed.

“Dr. Barthelemy has worked tirelessly to make the programs she runs inclusive, making everyone feel part of the CLIMB family,” Dubocovich added.

Medical Resident Award

The Medical Resident Award went to Taryn Spencer, MD, center, flanked by Michael E. Cain, MD, and Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD.

Spencer earned her medical degree at the Jacobs School, which is located near where she grew up. She then remained for her postgraduate training in Buffalo to fulfill her goal of serving the community where she was raised.

“She has been persistent in her efforts to call attention for remarks that have powerful negative impact on students, residents and clinicians, and which undermine learning and patient care,” Dubocovich said. “She uses her own experience to help educate others and teaches strategies for responding proactively to explicit or implicit bias in the workplace.”

Medical Student Award

Collier is an advocate for diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness.

“Her contributions toward enhancing diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School learning environment have been remarkable,” Dubocovich said.

For example: To ensure a critical mass of diverse students in the medical school class in spring 2018, she organized the Second Look Weekend event so admitted medical students could have a second look at UB, together with their families.  

She also served as president of the local chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and represented the Jacobs School in several national meetings, including the SNMA.

“Karole has challenged both peers and administrators to improve the environment for underrepresented individuals at UB, which will have a long-term positive effect on our campus culture,” Dubocovich said.

PhD Student Award

Accepting the PhD Student Award is Rasheen Powell, center, flanked by Michael E. Cain, MD, and Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD.

“Rasheen strives to create a diverse and inclusive UB campus through his mentoring roles,” Dubocovich said.

He is a lead science instructor for the school’s Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), a statewide initiative to encourage minority and economically disadvantaged high school students to pursue careers in medicine and other health-related professions.

He is also a teaching assistant for the undergraduate experimental pharmacology course, a study group facilitator for the CLIMB program and a pharmacology tutor for the post-baccalaureate program.

Powell also serves as a committee member for the Diversity, Inclusion and Learning Environment committee, whose goal is to create a learning environment where all the members are valued, respected and provided with equal opportunities to thrive.

Community Service Award

Oscar G. Gomez, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and division chief of infectious diseases

“Dr. Gomez has established himself as a global leader in the treatment of childhood infectious gastrointestinal diseases through his research and his International Enteric Vaccines Research Program, which aims to prevent infectious diseases in children in underserved communities, especially low income countries,” Dubocovich said.

"His work has extended to collaborations with physicians from various low income countries, including his native Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” Dubocovich added.

He is extending his work in infectious diseases in children to Buffalo and Western New York though the Office of Global Health Initiatives in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Service Awards

50 Years

30 Years

Siegel Awardees Also Recognized