Forum Showcases 34 Medical Student Research Projects

Published April 27, 2020

Thirty-four original research projects from aspiring physician-scientists were on display at the 2020 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.

Pandemic Puts Medical Research in Spotlight

The importance of medical research has been spotlighted more than ever this year.

“The Medical Student Research Forum has always been a very important and exciting time, as it provides these future scientists the opportunity to share their research with the medical and scientific community,” says Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, senior associate dean for research and graduate education. “However, this year it is particularly significant given the current worldwide pandemic of COVID-19.”  

“This research forum brings together aspiring physician-scientists and basic researchers, which is exactly what is occurring around the globe in a coordinated effort to identify vaccine antigens and novel treatments to combat the current crisis,” Campagnari adds. “There is a clear need to train more physician-scientists, and exposing medical students to basic research early in their training is a critical step toward reaching that goal.”

Top Posters Study Pemphigus Vulgaris, Trauma

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, announced the winners and also gave an introduction and closing.

A faculty panel selected five outstanding projects for special recognition during the event, which took place Jan. 23 in the atrium of the Jacobs School building.

First Place

Jenna Betz, Class of 2021

“Inhibition of IL13RA1 Signaling to Prevent the Development of the Human Autoimmune Disease Pemphigus Vulgaris in Genetically Susceptible Individuals”

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a rare autoimmune disease that causes painful blistering of mucosa and skin.

Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology, has hypothesized that the downregulation of IL-13Rα1 in peripheral blood monocytes may serve as a protective mechanism against elevated serum IL-13 levels in genetically susceptible individuals.

Working under the direction of Sinha and Kristina Seiffert, MD, research assistant professor of dermatology, Betz showed that IL-13 upregulates the surface expression of HLA proteins while downregulating CD14, suggesting monocyte maturation into dendritic cells is relevant to disease development.

Mentors/collaborators: Seiffert, Sinha.

Second Place (Tie)

Zafardjan Dalimov, Class of 2021

“Trends in Minimally Invasive Surgical Therapies for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Treatment Substitution or Treatment Expansion Effect by Prostatic Urethral Lift?”

Dalimov’s research aimed to evaluate trends in utilization of transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), laser prostate surgeries and minimally invasive surgical therapies (MIST), such as transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT), transurethral needle ablation (TUNA), prostatic stent and prostatic urethral Lift (PUL).

The study demonstrates that the number of MIST procedures are on the rise with the highest growth rate observed in PUL procedures. Similar growth trends of PUL procedures were observed across all AUA regions. The marked rise in PUL is associated with the decline in TUMT and laser prostate surgery utilization nationally.

Mentors: Nicole Alavi-Dunn, MD; K. Kent Chevli, MD; clinical professor and chair of urology; Michael Ernst, MD; Harold Hamann, MD.

Kirsten Schlosser, Class of 2022

“History of Trauma: Characteristics of Detained Asylum Seekers in Buffalo, NY”

Schlosser’s research explores detained asylum seekers’ history of trauma in relation to their current detainment from information gathered by the Human Rights Initiative since its founding in 2014.

The research concluded that asylum seekers have a history of trauma and are suffering from mental health disorders due to their past experiences. Through detainment, they may be at risk of re-exposure to a situation reminiscent of the experiences they fled, causing more distress and traumatization.

Mentors: Maria Coluccio; Kim Strong Griswold, MD, professor of family medicine and research professor of psychiatry; Yasmeen Mohammad.

Third Place (Tie)

William Murk, Class of 2022

“Metabolic Surgery and Cardiovascular Outcomes”

Murk’s research replicated a previous study showing that metabolic surgery is associated with a 39 percent reduction in the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) compared with non-surgery among obese patients with diabetes. He did modify its design so that the comparison groups had similar levels of baseline information.

He hypothesized that the original findings were spurious, due to differential information bias, since non-surgical controls do not undergo the same pre-diagnostic workup as patients undergoing surgery. When the comparison group was changed to patients undergoing hip/knee replacement, there was no protective effect of metabolic surgery.

He demonstrated that information bias is the most likely explanation for the substantial cardiovascular benefit reported in the earlier study.

Mentors/collaborators: Jeremy Rassen, ScD; Sebastian Schneeweiss, MD, ScD.

Nataliia Paone, Class of 2022

“Effects of Oxygen Concentration on Viability of Human Corneal Endothelial Cells”

The purpose of Paone’s study was to investigate the role of O2 concentration in primary human corneal endothelial cell (HCEnC) culture. In the human eye anterior chamber, [O2] is 2 to 3 percent while HCEnC are typically cultured at ambient O2 ([O2]A; O2in air is 21 percent. She tested the hypothesis that HCEnC cultured at physiologic O2 ([O2] (2.5 percent) would have greater cell viability (CV) compared to HCEnC cultured at [O2]A.

The results support her hypothesis that HCEnCs cultured at [O2] 2.5 percent show greater viability compared to those grown at [O2]A and adapt rapidly to changes in [O2]. Further studies of HCEnCs cultured at physiologic [O2] may impact techniques for HCEnC expansion and understanding of oxidative stress in corneal endothelial disease such as Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy.

Mentors/Collaborators: Maria E. Sousa; Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology.

Studying Heart Disease, Kidney Disease, Sepsis

Participants researched many important areas in their projects:

Student(s) Project Mentors/collaborators
Melissa Sloley Socio-Psychological Effects of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers Praveen Chandrasekharan, MD
Guan Yu, PhD
Munmun Rawat, MD
Stephanie M. Newman Impact of a National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Compliant Multidisciplinary Conference on Treatment Decisions in Patients with Localized Prostate Cancer Blake Peterson
Katarina Krajacicl
Umar Iqball
Zhe Jingl
Adenna Samoni
Ahmed Elsayed
Eric Kauffman
Michael Kuettal
James Mohler
Ahmed Hussein
Khurshid Gurul
Nicole Favre Complications in Pediatric Acute Mastoiditis: Hcup Kid Analysis Vijay A. Patel, MD
Michele M .Carr, DDS, MD PhD
Brandon Mariotti Novel Biomechanical Model for Proximal Junctional Kyphosis



Brian Unruh Identification of MTRNR2-LIKE1 as a Novel Therapeutic Target and Biomarker in Early AMD Josh J. Wang
Sarah X. Zhang
Kelcy Mcintyre Translation Initiation as an Antifungal Target John Panepinto, PhD
Alex Fritz Rational for Surgical Intervention From Adolescent to Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis: An International Survey of Experts Jennifer Z. Mao
Jean-Marc Lucas
Tim O’Connor, MD
Asham Khan, MD
Justice Agyei, MD
John Polina, MD
Alexander R.Vaccaro, MD, PhD
Jeffrey P. Mullin, MD
Bai W. Chan

Non-Genetic Risk Factors and Enrollment Methodology of Diabetic Retinopathy Patients in South India


G. Susarla
A. Rizzi
A. Li
S. Han
R. Khan
V.Y. Wang
I. Lains, MD
K. Brustoski
V. Khetan, MD
R. Raman, MD
R.P. Igo Jr., PhD
S.K. Iyengar, PhD
S. Mathavan, PhD
L. Sobrin, MD

Patrick F. Durkin
Beth A.Palka


Impaired Adenosine-Mediated Coronary Vasodilation in Swine With Repetitive Pressure Overload-Induced Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction

John M.Canty Jr., MD
Brian R. Weil, PhD



Katarina Krajacic

Upstaging Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer After Robot-Assisted Radical Cystectomy: Insights From the International Robotic Cystectomy Consortium


Thomas Listopadzki In Vitro Effect of Antimicrobial Photodynamtic Therapy on Staphylococcal and C. Acnes Isolates Scott R. Nodzo, MD
John K. Crane, MD, PhD
Thomas R. Duquin, MD
K. Keely Boyle, MD
Christopher M. Sullivan Increased Biofilm Biomass With Cocolonization of Enterococcus faecalis and Morganella morganii Kirsten L. Bair
Aimee L. Brauer
Ashley N. White
Chelsie E. Arnbruster, PhD

Blake Peterson





Comparison of Changes in eGFR in Ileal Conduitvs.Neobladder Recipients Post Robot Assisted Radical Cystectomy Umar Iqbal
Khurshid Guru, MD
Lauren Harte Sensory Innervation of the Long Head of the Biceps Tendon Stuart D. Inglis, PhD
John M. Marzo, MD
Taylor Rick
Cody Kelso Development of Epileptiform Discharges Within One Month Following Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Induced by Lateral Fluid Percussion Injury in Rats

Nicole Curtis
Robert Finley
Steven M. Gertz
Matthew J. McGuire
David Poulsen, PhD


Austin Kloc Comparison of PS785, a Photodynamic Therapy Photosensitizer to Porfirmer Sodium (Photofrin®) for the Treatment of Human Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Xenografts Kris Attwood, PhD
Wiam Bshara, MD
Farukh A. Durrani, PhD
Chukwumere E. Nwogu, MD, PhD
Ravindra K. Pandey, PhD
Joseph McGann Score at the Door: Catching Sepsis Before it Catches You Emilie Melvin
Kristen Miller
Laura Schubel
Brooks Melnyk

Metal Ion Toxicity in Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Robert H. Ablove, MD
Ross Cole, MD
Thomas R. Duquin, MD
Michael Edgerton, MD
Christina Moore Oxygen Stress and Estrogen Receptor Expression in Corneal Endothelial Cells

Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD


Mary O’Hehir Novel Biomedical Model for Proximal Junctional Kyphosis Sigurd Berven, MD
Munish Gupta, MD
Jennifer Mao
Jeffrey P. Mullin, MD
Tim O’Connor, MD
John Pollina, MD
David Polly Jr., MD
Dan Rathbone
Kaley Reardon


Examining Associations Between Parent Feeding Styles and Young Children’s Delay of Gratification Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD
Anita Singh
Sara Tauriello
JoAnna Shaw The Buffalo Research Registry Participant Satisfaction Survey Danielle Abramo-Balling
Laurene M. Tumiel Berhalter, PhD
Megan Wilson
Lauren Sielski Is There a Need to Change Textbook Knowledge? Assessment of the Fidelity of a Pathognomonic Theory in Autoimmune Blistering Disease John David Baker
Michael Depasquale
Kristina Seiffert, MD 
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD
Jessica L. Silvestri Monitoring the Effect of Transcranial Electric Current Stimulation (TES) During a Bimanual Motor Task Via Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Lora Cavuoto, PhD
Yuanyuan Gao
Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD
Sonya Singh The Effects of Insecure Attachment on Childhood Asthma: Depression and Autonomic Dysregulation as Possible Mechanisms

Quratulain Humayun, MBBS
Bruce D. Miller, MD
Beatrice L. Wood, PhD


Sarah Soniwala Quality of Life Measures for Childhood Asthma: How Do Parent and Child Assessments Compare? Lucy C. Holmes, MD
Stacie Lampkin, PharmD
Katherine Lee
Anne Stoklosa

A Cross-Sectional Survey From One U.S. Medical School Identifying Vaping Knowledge Gap in Medical Education

Deepali Handa, MD
Maritza N. Taylor Comparing Pull Out Force of Cervical Pedicle Screws and Lateral Mass Screws Jennifer Mao
Jeffrey P. Mullin, MD
Timothy O’Connor, MD
Mary O’Hehir
John Pollina, MD
Dan Rathbone
Kevin Zablonski The Association of Caregiver Depression With Child Asthma Quratulain Humayun, MBBS
Heather K. Lehman, MD
Bruce D. Miller, MD
Beatrice L. Wood, PhD