Commencement 2015

136 Medical Students Graduate from University at Buffalo

Published May 6, 2015 This content is archived.

story by alexandra edelblute

The UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences graduated 136 medical students during its 169th commencement on May 1.

“Dr. Ellis helped us overcome many obstacles. He was a humble, affable, hardworking professor who made cardiology interesting for us. ”
2015 Iris yearbook dedication to Avery K. Ellis, MD ’77, PhD ’79, MBA

Commencement Video


Nine students in the Class of 2015 earned dual degrees:

  • four MD/PhD degrees
  • three MD/MBA degree
  • two MD/oral and maxillofacial surgery degrees

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the medical school, presided over the ceremony at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

President-Elect of AMA Addressed Graduates

Steven J. Stack, MD, the president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA), was the honored speaker.

He shared five keys to success during his address: “Be diligent, be confident, be compassionate, be passionate, be tenacious. It won’t be easy, but I guarantee it will be rewarding because this path you have chosen makes a difference,” he said.

“You are the future of health care in this country. You are the ones who will be on the front lines. So think big, take charge and whatever you do — don't give up,” he urged.

Stack has served as medical director of multiple emergency departments, and he is the first emergency medicine board-certified physician to serve on the AMA’s board of trustees.

Stack, who has special expertise in health information technology, was chair of the AMA’s Health Information Technology Advisory Group from 2007 to 2013. He is currently the secretary of eHealth Initiative, a nonprofit association committed to improving health care through the advancement of health IT.

Stack has made notable contributions to the areas of physician licensure, regulation and assessment.

Class Speaker Honored for Academics, Humanism

Michael Wach, a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, was the class speaker.

He discussed his experiences as a bone marrow donor and shared what it felt like to help extend the life of his donee. “Classmates, this is an experience every one of you is going to have in the coming years. You are going to be the ones who save a person's life,” he said.

“During residency, during fellowship and during your career we are trusted with enormous responsibility and we are made to go through hell for it. But the first time someone says ‘This wouldn't have been possible without you,’ you will know it's worth it,” he said.

Wach also expressed his gratitude for his professors at UB. “The time they took out of their own lives to give us so much knowledge is incredible. We stand on the shoulders of giants now with their medical knowledge,” he noted.

Wach has been part of several research projects and has presented his results on a national level. His recent work on artery stenting analysis and outcomes has led to six articles in peer-reviewed neurosurgery journals.  

He is “one of the rare graduates we see,” said Cain, noting that Wach is “committed to academic excellence and humanism in the practice of medicine.”

Wach will undertake his residency in general surgery at UB.

Iris Yearbook Dedicated to "Outstanding Leader"

Matthew Stevens, Aleksandr Kalininskiy.

Yearbook editors Matthew Stevens (center) and Aleksandr Kalininskiy (right) present Nitza Ellis, MD, and Perry Hogan, PhD (left), with the Iris medical school yearbook.

The Class of 2015 dedicated the Iris medical school yearbook to the late Avery K. Ellis, MD ’77, PhD ’79, MBA, former senior associate dean for medical curriculum and associate professor of medicine and physiology.

Ellis was chosen because of his incredible passion for the success of medical students, said yearbook editors Matthew Stevens and Aleksandr Kalininskiy.

“He was an outstanding leader of our curriculum, organizing not only the classes we took for four years, but also providing students with electronic notes,” explains Stevens.

“Dr. Ellis helped us overcome many obstacles. He was a humble, affable, hardworking professor who made cardiology interesting for us,” he notes.