Various performers are shown displaying their artistry during the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science’s first virtual talent show.

Faculty, Students, Residents Share Artistry at Talent Show

Published May 6, 2021

story by bill bruton

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty, students and residents showcased their artistic talents in the school’s first virtual talent show April 28.

“This is fantastic. There is so much talent in our medical school that I didn’t know about. ”
President of the University at Buffalo

Idea Came During Pandemic

The show was the brainchild of Archana Mishra, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. She came up with the idea when her niece was getting married in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our family is dispersed all over the world, and with travel restrictions in place, it was obvious that an entirely in-person wedding would be impossible. Instead, we each decided we would do a little virtual performance for the couple,” she says. “None of us are particularly talented, but despite that (or maybe because of it), the celebration was a lot of fun. As soon as we were done with the wedding, I thought, ‘Why not do the same with my other family — UB?’”

Acts Receive Rave Reviews

More than two dozen people performed in the talent competition. Medical students in their first through fourth years participated as well as faculty and medical residents who care for patients at UB’s partner hospitals including Buffalo General Medical Center, Oishei Children’s Hospital, the VA Health Care System of Western New York and Erie County Medical Center. Some of their nursing colleagues also joined in.

Despite a few technical glitches, the event was a success. There were 245 registrants, of which a large majority watched the event via videoconference, often raving about the acts via the chat feature.

“This is fantastic. There is so much talent in our medical school that I didn’t know about,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi, who watched with his wife, Kamlesh. “We really loved it. Thanks for arranging it.”

“I remain continuously impressed by our talented faculty and staff, students and residents,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, who watched with his wife, Peggy. “This points out how important it is that each of us have at least one hobby or activity outside medicine that relaxes and refreshes us. We live in a stressful world and we have stressful responsibilities. This is an important part of wellness and health. Thank you all for entertaining us.”

“I am so honored to be here and see that our students — who are studying in order to take care of others — have amazing additional talents,” said Ellen E. Grant, deputy mayor of Buffalo, who also watched the proceedings. “On behalf of Mayor Byron Brown, I want to offer congratulations and thank you for contributing to our city in so many ways.”

Includes Trivia Contest, Scavenger Hunt

Alan J. Lesse, MD, senior associate dean for medical curriculum, served as master of ceremonies.

“We’ve got a truly superior lineup of talent that spans many different disciplines,” Lesse said.

The talent show was divided into four separate sessions, with five performances or submissions per session and a winner for each. Audience members had the opportunity to vote on the winning teams, in addition to participating in a trivia contest and scavenger hunt.

Winning Performances Include Songs & Dance

The winners — and their self-titled performances — were:

Session 1

Adetayo Oladele-Ajose, second-year medical student
Performance: Ukulele extraordinaire

Session 2

Marc Maller, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, accompanied by his granddaughter, Ana Maller
Performance: A musical treat with an interpretive modern dance

Session 3

Sophia Park, second-year medical student
Performance: One-woman band performing “City of Stars”

Session 4

Matthew Kaye, MD, internal medicine resident
Performance: Original song “Double Take”

Paintings, Dance Medleys, Artwork Abound

Other participants — and their self-titled performances or submissions — were:

  • Bradley T. Jensen, first-year medical student
    Submission: Oil paintings on canvas (“Sunflower” and elk painting “Caledon Creek”)
  • Aakanksha Khanna, MD, with Nalini Kalanadabhatta, DO; Chanel J. Fernandez, MD; Puja Mehta, DO; Siri Gadde, MD; Alexandra L. Tibil, MD; Azka A. Shaikh, MD; Aya A. Ouf, MD; Einas Batarseh, MD; Samana Mukhtar, MD; Diane Pham, MD; Stephanie Merner, RN; Doran Murray, RN; M.J. Russo and Emily Beauchamp, internal medicine residents with nursing colleagues
    Performance: Dance medley
  • Mark D. Parker, PhD, associate professor of physiology and biophysics
    Performance: Every talent show needs a novelty animal act
  • Sourav Sengupta, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry
    Submission: Hand-made furniture
  • Madeleine Champagne, first-year medical student
    Submission: Art work (“Madonna’s Sunflower”)
  • Ajay Chaudhuri, MBBS, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
    Submission: Bengali song “Ekla Cholo Re” by poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913
  • Angela Grassi, fourth-year medical student
    Performance: Diabolo, a derivative of the Chinese yo-yo and a commonly performed circus act
  • Aakanksha Khanna, MD, internal medicine chief resident
    Submission: Henna artwork
  • David L. Kaye, MD, professor of psychiatry
    Performance: Songs accompanied by guitar
  • Anjuli Shah, third-year medical student
    Submission: Art “Octopus Heart”
  • Neha Jassal, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics
    Performance: Bollywood style of dancing on a Punjabi language romantic song in which a girl is expressing her feelings to her lover
  • Elie R. Chemaly, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology
    Performance: Instrumental music on piano (Johann Sebastian Bach— Invention No. 1 BWV 772)
  • Arthur M. Edelman, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology
    Performance: Everything you wanted to know about extra credit but were too afraid to ask
  • Suparna Saha, MD, assistant professor of medicine
    Performance: Dance medley
  • Aya A. Ouf, internal medicine resident
    Submission: Art work
  • Ryan Salemme and Marc Ruszaj with Christine Toufexis, Clare Martin, Mary Kathleen Agarwala and Natalia Anna Alexandridi, fourth-year graduating medical students
    Performance: Dance/musical performance (“Dirty Dancing” spoof)

“I thank all our artists who took the time to submit performances and really entertained us tonight,” said Mishra, who hopes to make the talent show an annual event.

Jacquelyn Jordan, MD, internal medicine resident, coordinated the treasure hunt. Humorist Jane Fischer was game master for the trivia contest, which was won by fourth-year graduating medical student Adam Siedlecki.