Forum Showcases 57 Medical Student Research Projects

Published February 8, 2022

story by dirk hoffman

Fifty-seven original research projects from aspiring physician-scientists were on display at the 2022 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.

Faculty Panel Selects Most Outstanding Projects

A faculty panel selected nine outstanding projects for special recognition during the event, which took place Jan. 27 in the atrium of the Jacobs School building.

Allison Brashear, MD, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, announced the winners and gave closing remarks.

“This new generation of medical students is undertaking training in an era where we’re shifting our understanding of what it means to conduct research,” she noted. “Worthwhile research isn’t produced only within the lab environment. Whether our students perform research in a lab, at a bedside, or even via Zoom, a world of important findings and outcomes awaits them.” 

Brashear also highlighted the importance of team science. “I encourage students to never underestimate the power of a strong interdisciplinary team. Team science can generate outstanding results,” she said. 

“We’re seeing that close collaboration among disparate specialties is of utmost importance. When clinically minded individuals join forces with engineers and scientists from a range of fields, they can bridge gaps in knowledge and produce remarkable research,” Brashear added.

Top Posters Study Cancer, Skin Disorder

First Place

Gaby Cordero, Class of 2024

“Understanding How to Train Cancer Center Staff to Adequately Address Patients’ Financial Needs: A Qualitative Study”

Treatment-related financial burden affects 30 to 70 percent of cancer patients and can lead to psychological distress, a negative impact on patients’ material conditions, and cost-coping behaviors such as delaying care or non-adherence with medications due to costs. Some health care systems have addressed this problem by establishing interdisciplinary teams consisting of social workers, financial counselors, and patient navigators to provide financial support to patients.

The study’s objective was to conduct interviews with team members who provide financial support to patients to identify common practices across different cancer centers and existing gaps in training to optimize financial assistance services being provided to patients. Participants from seven cancer centers across the United States were recruited.

The study utilized an interview guide to obtain details of their onboarding process, their self-assessed preparedness for the job following the training and their opinions on gaps throughout their training process.

Mentors/collaborators: Margaret I. Liang, MD; Maria Pisu, PhD; Elizabeth C. Ward.

Michelle Galindez, Class of 2024

“Retrospective Analysis Comparing Pre-Autologous Hematopoietic Transplant (AHCT) Therapy With Daratumumab at Various Treatment Lines for Refractory Multiple Myeloma”

Daratumumab (dara) has been shown to be an effective treatment for patients with multiple myeloma who are unresponsive to therapy. Response rates and duration of remission are generally lower and shorter in each subsequent line of therapy. Therefore, the study aimed to retrospectively evaluate the use of dara prior to autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHCT) to determine if the use of dara along different lines of treatment leads to different response rates and whether AHCT abrogates this difference.

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of 42 patients with multiple myeloma who had an AHCT at Memorial Sloan-Kettering between 2017 and 2020 and received daratumumab treatment prior to AHCT.

The study concluded administration of daratumumab in earlier lines of treatment portended better response rates. Transplant deepened responses independent of treatment line or patient age.

Mentor/collaborator: Gunjan L. Shah, MD.

Second Place

Ellen Lutnick, Class of 2022

“Perioperative Outcomes Comparing General and Neuraxial Anesthesia in Orthopedic Surgery”

The relative risks of neuraxial anesthesia (NAX) vs. general anesthesia (GA) have been explored; however, comparisons most frequently relate to mortality, bleeding, or recovery time. There remains a paucity of literature comparing minor complications related to administered anesthesia. This study aimed to assess commonly reported perioperative outcomes of orthopedic surgery after NAX vs GA.

The study revealed a significant decrease in sepsis and reoperation with the use of NAX after pooling outcomes comparing NAX vs GA in orthopedic procedures, and reinforced significantly lower risks of blood transfusion, failure to wean from ventilator, or unplanned intubation with NAX. Sepsis and reoperation/return to the operating room were rare occurrences; however, the significance of these comparisons warrants further exploration.

Mentor/Collaborator: Nickolas Van Roekel, MD.

Teresa Pullano, Class of 2024

“Role of Extracellular ATP/Adenosine in Neutrophil-Mediated T Cell Suppression in Ovarian Cancer Microenvironment”

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) has the highest mortality among gynecological cancers. Despite being an immunogenic tumor, single-agent checkpoint inhibitors have been largely ineffective in recurrent EOC, raising the notion of immunosuppressive factors in the tumor microenvironment (TME) as obstacles to immunotherapy.

The study pointed to eATP as a modulator of PMN suppressor function in the TME and the potential to abrogate suppression by targeting CD39. Future studies will probe eATP-induced signaling in neutrophils in the TME and their role in suppressor function.

Mentors/collaborators: Elsa Bou Ghanem, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology; Tiffany R. Emmons, PhD; Thejaswini Giridharan; Nazmul H. Khan, MBBS; Brahm H. Segal, MD, professor of medicine; Manmeet Pal Singh Bhalla, PhD; postdoctoral associate in microbiolgy and immunology.

Third Place

Olumayowa Adebiyi, Class of 2024

“The Multifactorial Complexities of Autoimmune Development in Pemphigus Vulgaris: A Review of Environmental and Lifestyle Factors”

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a potentially life-threatening blistering disorder characterized by autoantibodies directed against cell-cell adhesion molecules that serves as an excellent model to study human autoimmune development.

The overall goals of the study were to provide greater insights into disease susceptibility and the factors that influence disease course, and to ultimately provide information to better guide patients and clinicians in the management of pemphigus to improve overall quality of life.

Mentors/collaborators: Michael Augustin; Dominique Galloway; Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology.

John Baker, Class of 2023

“How Patient Genetics Shape the Autoimmune Response in the Blistering Skin Disease Pemphigus Vulgaris”

Pemphigus Vulgaris (PV) is a rare autoimmune blistering skin disorder with a multifactorial origin. It is characterized by the development of lesions on skin (cutaneous) surfaces and/or mucous membranes as a consequence of autoantibodies directed against specific epidermal adhesion proteins including desmoglein (Dsg)3 and -1. Key Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) alleles, including DRB1*0402 and DQB1*0503, have been linked to the development of PV.

In the study, the researchers sought to investigate disease relevant correlations between multiple factors including HLA genotype, ethnicity, autoantibody levels, and clinical expression of disease based on lesion distribution in a cohort of 293 patients.

Mentors/Collaborators: Kristina Seiffert, MD, research assistant professor of dermatology; Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology.

Justin Mordechai Isaac Baroukhian, Class of 2024

“Construction of a Detailed Historical Longitudinal Personal Medical Journey Identifies Critical Non-Genetic Determinants of Disease in a Patient With Pemphigus Vulgaris”

While predisposing genetic factors have been implicated across a variety of autoimmune diseases, the inherited risk they carry has failed to completely account for the development of disease in any given individual.

Presented in the study are findings from a complete life course history taken from a 54-year-old white female.

The data highlight the essential role of key environmental factors in the development and course of PV, and the importance of longitudinal history taking and monitoring to uncover relevant determinants of autoimmune activity in individuals.

Mentors/Collaborators: Kristina Seiffert, MD, research assistant professor of dermatology; Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology.

Susan Eichhorn, Class of 2024

“A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Factors Associated With Oral Mucositis Among Cancer Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation”

The goal of the study was to evaluate characteristics of oral mucositis patients who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for cancer treatment to identify potential risk factors, stratify those factors by HSCT modality and cancer diagnosis, and quantify risk of complications associated with oral mucositis (OM).

When stratified to allogeneic and autologous HSCT, methotrexate, younger age, and longer duration of neutropenia were associated with OM risk in allogeneic HSCT recipients, while renal dysfunction, HSV-1 reactivation, and longer neutrophil engraftment were associated with OM risk in autologous HSCT recipients. Longer neutrophil engraftment was a risk factor across different cancer cohorts; however, renal dysfunction was a distinct risk factor for OM in multiple myeloma patients.

Additionally, the study’s findings showed that patients with oral mucositis have increased risk of developing infectious complications compared to those without OM.

Mentor/Collaborator: Poolakkad S. Satheeshkumar.

Alexandra Gilligan, Class of 2024

“Manipulation of Left Ventricular Loading Conditions is Necessary to Identify Diastolic Dysfunction in Swine With Repetitive Pressure Overload-Induced HFpEF”

Diagnosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is often complicated by the fact that many patients exhibit normal left ventricular (LV) mechanics at rest with a reduction in diastolic compliance that is only revealed when loading conditions are altered (e.g., exercise).

In an effort to identify parameters of diastolic function that could be utilized to detect alterations in compliance without manipulation of LV loading conditions, the study utilized invasive hemodynamic analysis and speckle-tracking echocardiography (STE) to assess diastolic strain and stiffness in swine with repetitive pressure overload (RPO)-induced HFpEF.

Mentors/Collaborators: John M. Canty, Jr. MD, SUNY Distinguished and Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Professor of Medicine; Dorcas Nsumbu; Arezou Tajlil, MD; Brian R. Weil, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics.

Studying Trauma, COPD, Concussions

Participants researched many important areas in their projects:

Student(s) Project Mentors/collaborators
Dmitriy Belous Surgical Dosing of Partial Sixth Nerve Palsy With Novel Incomitance Protocol for Improvement of Area of Single Binocular Vision Andrew L. Reynolds, MD
Charles F. Zhang, MD
Itai Bezherano Outcomes of Hemorrhagic Intracranial Lesions in Pediatric Patients Secondary to Trauma Olumayowa Adebiyi
Justin J. Assioun, MD
Kathryn D. Bass, MD
Mohammad Nadir Haider, MD, PhD
Renee Reynolds, MD
Anil K. Swayampakula, MD
Carolina Ungs, MD
Ian Bogdanowicz Buffalo Concussion March Test (BCMT) Mohammad Nadir Haider, MD, PhD
John J. Leddy, MD
Barry S. Willer, PhD
Bryan Chatterton Evaluating STING Signaling as an Immune Modulator After Antiangiogenic TKI Resistance Melissa Dolan
Adam Dommer
John Ebos, PhD
James W. Hill
Yuhao Shi
Ricki Chen Investigation of Transcriptionally Regulated Differential Gene Expression as a Potential Protection Signature in the Pemphigus Vulgaris Disease Model Tyler Chinksy
Sarah Holan
Kristina Seiffert, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD
Harshitha Basapura Suresha
Allison Chowdhury In Vitro Analysis of Various Antibiotic and Cement Combinations Against S. Epidermidis and S. Lugdunensis John K. Crane, MD, PhD
Matthew J. DiPaola, MD
Kevin Kohut, MD
Sonja Pavlesen, MD

Emilie Christie

Isabelle Evelyn Kozik

Deep Immunoprofiling in Pemphigus Using Cytometry by Time of Flight (CYTOF), a Novel Technology With Single-Cell Resolution

Kristina Seiffert, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD


John Ciarletta Safe Ground Ambulance Transport of Pediatric Patients Kathryn D. Bass, MD
Benjamin Kasper, MD
Denise Lillvis, PhD
Anne Stoklosa
Elizabeth Crinzi Analysis of Chromatin Data Supports a Role for Monocytes in Mediating Genetic Risk for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Emma Haley
James N. Jarvis, MD
Kerry Elissa Poppenberg, MD
Vincent M. Tutino, PhD
Lauren DiNardo Breastfeeding Policies of Otolaryngology Residency Programs Michelle M. Carr, MD, PhD
Nicole Favre
Kristina Powers
Alyssa Reese
Meagan Sullivan
Jelyn Cruz Eustaquio Using NCCN Recommended Tool to Screen for Opioid Misuse in Cancer Patients: Are We Overdiagnosing Addiction? Charles S. Cleeland, PhD
Yvonna Griffo, MD
Susan D. Horn, PhD
Charles Inturrisi, PhD
Vivek T. Malhotra, MD
Samuel McCash, MD
Tito R. Mendoza, PhD
Natalie Moryl, MD
Nicole Favre Decisional Conflict and Family Support in Parents of Otolaryngology Patients Philomena M. Behar, MD
Michelle M. Carr, MD, PhD
Sara Feinland Depression and Associated Risk Factors in Rural Haiti Joseph Hennig, MD
David M. Holmes, MD
Vincent Polsinelli, MD
Nikhil Satchidanand, PhD
Brendan Fitzpatrick Presentation, Treatment, and Outcomes of Chondrosarcoma in Patients Less Than Age 50 Justin M. Miller, DO
James C. Witting, MD
Kirsten Frauens Circulating tRNA Halfs as Preclinical Biomarkers in Traumatic Brain Injury Jonathan E. Bard
Rudiyanto Gunawan, PhD
Madison Hunter
William Kelly, MD
David Poulsen, PhD
Kathryn Toffolo
Nicole Gorski Optimizing the ELISpot Assay for Detection of Tumor-Specific Effector Memory T Cells Per Basse, MD, PhD
Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD
Kathleen Kokolus, PhD
Ashley Gutierrez Tbet+ Tregs Role in Control of Immunopathology in T. gondii Infection Monica S. Humby
Richard Jin
Jordan Warunek
Elizabeth A. Wohlfert, PhD
Emma Haley A Functional Genomics Approach to Identifying Candidate Target Genes on JIA Risk Haplotypes James N. Jarvis, MD
Kaiyu Jiang
Mariana Hand Associations Between Maternal Cigarette and Electronic Cigarette Use Around the Time of Pregnancy and the Risk Of Diabetes Brooke Elizabeth Pearce
Alexia Pezzino
Meghana Sana
Xiaozhong din hoxWen, PhD
Din Hoxha Characterization of Human Colonic Smooth Muscle Cells  
Isabella Julian Diverse miRNA Cargo is Essential for the Cardioprotective Effects of Therapeutic Extracellular Vesicles Lisa A. Eagler
Lindsey Euscher
Jennifer K. Lang, MD
Kyle Indiana Mentkowski
Dhara Kadakia The Impact of Intuitive Surgical® Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System Platform Analytics on Efficiency, Training, and Costs in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Sarah E. Andres, DO
Elliana Gianacopoulos
Daniel T. Nassar, DO
Patryk M. Piekos, MD
Julia Silver
Michael K. Shu, MD
Michael Khan HNSCC Patients on Statins Have Improved Response to Definitive Chemoradiation But Little Survival Benefit Austin J. Iovoli, MD
Sung Jun Ma, MD
Anurag K. Singh, MD
Sean Kilcullen ATP Levels in Human Corneal Endothelial Cells Under Ambient and Physiologic Oxygen Conditions and Effect of Estradiol Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD
Timothy-Paul Kung Diagnostic Accuracy of Emergency Department Consultations Among Ophthalmology Residents Jamie Floss
Andrew L. Reynolds, MD
Charles F. Zhang, MD
Ryan Lane Donor-Derived Cell-Free DNA as a Graft Injury Marker Following Kidney Transplantation Liise K. Kayler, MD
Jing Nie, PhD
Kelsey LaPiano The Role of Obesity in the Response of Gastrointestinal Malignancies to Immunotherapy Kristopher M. Attwood, PhD
Adrienne Groman
Kelly Jans
Renuka Iyer, MD
Alison Ma The Effect of Low Dose Radiation on Tumor Tissue Hypoxia for Enhancing Interstitial Photodynamic Therapy David A. Bellnier, PhD
Sarah Chamberlain
Gal Shafirstein, DSc
Cody Manzanero Myeloid Cell-Specific Arginase-1 is Essential for Cardiosphere-Derived Cell Extracellular Vesicle Mediated Angiogenesis Following Acute MI Lisa A. Eagler
Jennifer K. Lang, MD
Kyle Indiana Mentkowski
Brandon Mariotti Mycophenolic Acid Levels in Myasthenia Gravis Michael K. Hehir, MD
Nicholas J. Silvestri, MD
Caila Vaughn, PhD 
Andy Medina Characterization of Retinal Photoreceptor Synapse in Diabetic Retinopathy Todd Robert McLaughlin, PhD
Sarah X. Zhang, MD
Lindsay Nitsche Feasibility of Intracorporal Dissolution of Lung Specimens Michael T. Demmy, MD
Todd L. Demmy, MD
Saraswati Pokharel, MD, PhD
Saikrishna Yendamuri, MD
Lovely Pierre Smoking Cessation is Notably Correlated with Disease Expression in Pemphigus Vulgaris Vitus Leander Brix
Heena Kausar Shaik, MD
Kristina Seiffert, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD
Kristina Powers Pediatric Bronchoscopy for Airway Foreign Bodies: Morbidity and Mortality Michelle M. Carr, MD, PhD
Mohamed A. Elrakhawy, MD
Kelcy McIntyre
Peter Principe Was There a Drop in the Incidence of Osteomyelitis and Septic Arthritis During the COVID-19 Pandemic? Cordelia W. Carter, MD
Karim Masrouha, MD
Elizabeth Quaye Characterization of T Cell and B Cell Receptor Repertories in Pemphigus Vulgaris by Next Generation Bulk and Single Cell RNAseq Analysis Sarah Holan
Kristina Seiffert, MD
Animesh A. Sinha, MD, PhD
Maya Raghavan Who are “Top Doctors”?: An Analysis of Gender in Otolaryngology Michelle M. Carr, MD, PhD
Lauren DiNardo
Alyssa Reese
Meagan Sullivan
Alyssa Reese Characterization of Litigation After Tonsillectomy in the United States Michelle M. Carr, MD, PhD
Mattie Rosi-Schumacher, MD
Meghana Sana Maternal Cigarette and Electronic Cigarette Use Around the Time of Pregnancy and the Risk of Maternal Hypertension Mariana Hand
Brooke Elizabeth Pearce
Alexia Pezzino
Xiaozhong Wen, PhD
Nicholas Sass Neutrophil Elastase as a Biomarker for Frequent Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Sanjay Sethi, MD
Paul J. Schiffmacher Extracellular Vesicles Released by Cardiosphere-Derived Cells Dampen the Pro-Inflammatory Monocyte Response Through Repression of C-C Chemokine Receptor Type 2 (CCR2) Lisa A. Eagler
Jennifer K. Lang, MD
Kyle Indiana Mentkowski
Rohan R. Pandey, MD
Jessica L. Reynolds, PhD
Andrew Schwartz Outcomes of Micropulse Transscleral Therapy With the Revised P3 Probe and Its Comparison to the Original MP3 Probe Dmitriy Belous
Parth Shah, DO
Sandra F. Sieminski, MD
Charles F. Zhang, MD
Afreen Siddiqui A Gendered Perspective on Coping Mechanisms Experienced by Asylum Seekers Kim Strong Griswold, MD
Victoria Lazaroz
Alyssa Reese
Kirsten Schlosser
Emily Smith Activation of MAPK ERK1/2 Pathway in Neutrophils From Young Versus Aged Hosts Following S. Pneumoniae Infection Manmeet Pal Singh Bhalla, PhD
Elsa Bou Ghanem, PhD
Shaunna Richelle Simmons
Claire Sucharski How to Provide Patient-Centered, Whole-Person Health Care Using the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Model David M. Holmes, MD
Lauren Turecki LT-IIC, a Bacterial Toxin, is Cytotoxic to Stem Cell-Like Mesenchymal Transition State of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells Terry D. Connell, PhD
Natalie D. Lyons, PhD
Lorrie M. Mandell
Patricia A. Masso-Welch, PhD
Caitlin Wuebbolt Reactive Oxygen Species in Human Corneal Endothelial Cells Under Ambient and Physiologic Oxygen Conditions Sangita P. Patel, MD, PhD
Jeff Zhang Pan-Cancer Characterization of Intratumoral Autonomic Innervation in 32 Cancer Types in The Cancer Genome Atlas Haiyang Sheng
Song Yao, PhD