Talent show performers.

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

Faculty, Students, Residents Share Artistry at Talent Show

Published May 24, 2022

story by bill bruton

The reviews are in. The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ virtual talent show continues to be an unqualified success.

“We all need a break from our hectic lives, where we spend all of our energy on our professional and personal commitments, and don’t really make time for fun — just pure fun.”
Clinical associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

Idea Came During Pandemic

More than two dozen talented people performed in the second annual event, which took place April 22 via videoconference. Responses in the chat feature raved about the acts.

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 Western New York Healthcare System and Erie County Medical Center.

“Last year, I had this crazy idea to bring our UB family together in a talent show,” said Archana Mishra, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. “We all need a break from our hectic lives, where we spend all of our energy on our professional and personal commitments, and don’t really make time for fun — just pure fun.”

Mishra came up with the idea for the talent show when her niece was getting married in India early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Realizing that an entirely in-person wedding would be impossible, her family decided to do a virtual performance for the couple. Mishra then decided to do the same for her other family — UB.

“We all know that practicing medicine has its own challenges, even without that pesky virus that refuses to go away. We all need to recharge, reconnect and recover, and creative expression has tremendous power to heal,” Mishra said. “Poetry, art, music and dance can truly connect and heal us. And a common thread between medicine and art is that they both have the power to truly uplift us as a society.”

Deputy Mayor Offers Praise

Among those who watched the event was Ellen E. Grant, deputy mayor of Buffalo.

“Dr. Mishra, what you are doing is really groundbreaking, and I wish you would share this with other medical schools around the country, because all caretakers need a little bit more fun in their lives with your stressful schedules,” said Grant, who read an inspiring poem for all those watching titled “Life Is,” by Mother Teresa.

“I want to thank you caretakers. I’m all about lifting up anyone that’s in a helping profession,” added Grant, who previously worked in nursing. “Thank you all for all of the hard work you’re doing every day.”

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

The talent show was divided into four separate sessions, with four to six 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 Efforts Include Songs, Art, Poetry

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

Act 1

Kelsey LaPiano, fourth-year medical student
A tour of home recording studio and footage/explanation of the creative process.
“I started the process of learning how to record music during medical school mainly by watching tutorials online and trial and error,” LaPiano said.

Act 2

Brian Niedzwecki, DO, internal medicine resident
Five pieces of original artwork with a video showing a timelapse.
“I paint as a hobby and am very thankful that some people appreciate my art,” Niedzwecki said.

Act 3

Alyssa Reese, second-year medical student
“I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”
Reese was a member, choreographer and music director of UB’s all-female a cappella group, The Royal Pitches, from 2019 through 2021.

Act 4

Yotam Weiner, MD, pulmonary disease and critical care fellow
Slam poetry reading about hardships in his life.
While a student at the University of Michigan, Weiner joined the school’s slam poetry team and traveled to competitions around the U.S.

Singing, Dancing, Artwork Abound

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

  • Madeleine Margaret Champagne-Shafer, second-year medical student
    Three original pieces of art
  • Michael Shi, fourth-year medical student
    Showcasing the process of creating a wallet from leather, including design selection and video footage of the wallet being made from start to finish
  • Shalok Munjal, DO, psychiatry resident
    Bollywood dance and hip-hop dance
  • Lisa Jane Jacobsen, MD, associate dean of medical curriculum and clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology
    Vocal performance of “A Million Dreams” from the film musical “The Greatest Showman”
  • Madison Carlson, fourth-year medical student
    Reading of three original poems
  • Neha Jassal, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics
    Folk dance from North India in Hindi in which a girl is expressing her happiness over the homecoming of her lover
  • Aya A. Ouf, MD, adult neurology resident
    Original artwork
  • Tom Avraham Fuchs, fourth-year medical student
    Vocals and acoustic guitar performance of original song “Ann Waits”
  • Anjuli Shah, fourth-year medical student
    One step back, two steps forward on piano
  • Kristie Nasr, MD, and Erin G. Gould, MD, internal medicine residents, with Niko and Stewie
    Every talent show needs a novelty animal act!
  • Matthew Kaye, MD, internal medicine resident
    Vocal and electric guitar performance of “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls
  • Jinx Lioi, fourth-year medical student
    Unique circus act
  • Elie R. Chemaly, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology
    Performance from Mozart Piano Sonata No. 16 C major K 545_andante
  • Brian M. Quigley, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Behavioral Medicine
    Vocal and acoustic guitar performance of original song “Lilacs in Springtime”
  • Angela Khidhir, MD, internal medicine resident
    Leg pressing a staggering 650 pounds for 10 repetitions

“Congratulations to Dr. Mishra and everyone associated with this uplifting event,” said Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “This has become a welcome addition to the Jacobs School’s calendar.”

“Talent that we’re going to show could be lost to the world if our amazing performers didn’t have the courage — or generosity — to share it with us,” said Mishra, who had everyone who was watching unmute themselves to show their appreciation to those who submitted works. “Please give a round of applause to our fearless performers.”

Shah and second-year medical student Bradley Terence Jensen oversaw the treasure hunt and trivia contest, while humorist Jane Fischer entertained the audience. Raj Thapar, MD, an internal medicine resident who has been an integral part of the talent show since its inception, provided technical assistance, while LaPiano served as the motion graphic artist.