40 Physicians, Trainees Feted by Gold Humanism Society

Published June 15, 2020

story by alexandra edelblute

UB’s Richard Sarkin Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) has inducted 40 exemplary medical students, residents, fellows and faculty members for 2020.



Gregory S. Cherr, MD, professor of surgery and associate dean for graduate medical education, welcomed the inductees and their families to the virtual event.

Cain Addresses Inductees

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, gave opening remarks. 

Discussing the meaning of humanism and how it fits into the context of our current world, Cain talked about the university’s Clinical and Translational Science Award. “When the grant was written, one of the thrusts of the grant was that we focused on health care disparities in Western New York, particularly in the Buffalo community,” Cain noted.

“When we wrote this grant, examples of health care disparities that we focused on were ones that normally come to mind: Are treatments similar across age and gender and race? Are the outcomes the same if you are Caucasian or Black? Is the access to health care delivery equal and easy for everybody?” Cain noted that recent events fueled by systemic racism — occurring in Minnesota, Georgia, Buffalo and around the country — have made it clear that traditional health care disparities are only part of racial injustice and racial bias.

“We each need to recognize the value and goodness of human beings. We need to each be aware of human needs. And we need to be able to use rational ways to solve human problems,” Cain said. “We each carry out our work with the ultimate professionalism and humanism, and we want others to emulate us because of our high quality of work, our professionalism, and our humanism.”

Following Cain’s address, Cherr called for a moment of silence. “Like Dr. Cain, I think we’ve all been thinking about the particularly devastating effect of COVID-19 on our communities of color and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others. I want us to have a moment of silence to reflect on what we can do to address the systemic racism and health inequities that affect every part of our communities, including our hospitals and clinics,” said Cherr.

13 Residents and Fellows Inducted

Peter S. Martin, MD ’07, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, GHHS member and resident chapter liaison, led the induction of the following residents and fellows:

23 Medical Students Are Honored

David A. Milling, MD ’93, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, led the induction of the following medical students:

  • Claudia Aghaie
  • Natalia Alexandridi
  • Isabel Armendi
  • Jesse Cole
  • Victoria Cranwell
  • Timothy Felong
  • Thomas Fiorica
  • Jennifer George
  • Victoria Gosy
  • Angela Grassi
  • Jenna Herskind
  • Mark Lawler
  • Jordan Levine
  • Samantha Loria
  • Jenna Lynch
  • Alexandra Marrone
  • Mark Pryshlak
  • Marc Ruszaj
  • Ryan Salemme
  • Matthew Simson
  • Natasha Singh
  • Christine Toufexis
  • Robert Welliver

8 Faculty Members Inducted Into Honor Society

Cherr led the induction of the following faculty members:

Bola Receives Goldstein Scholarship

The 2020 recipient of the Dr. Howard R. Goldstein ’74 Memorial Humanitarian Scholarship is Aaron Bola, MD ’20. 

This scholarship honors a fourth-year medical student who demonstrates a humanitarian spirit and dedication to the welfare of others. The annual award commemorates Goldstein’s contributions to medicine and his humanitarian spirit.

Katz Commends Honorees

Leonard A. Katz, MD, professor emeritus of medicine — who founded the UB chapter of the GHHS in 2005 — addressed the inductees.

“It’s very clear that we are living in a very strange and difficult time where humanism, compassion and recognizing differences among people should be what we in the medical community incorporate into our understanding,” said Katz.

“I welcome you heartily to the Gold Humanism honor society. And we know you will make difference with your lives as you carry the inspiration of humanism, compassion and complete recognition of people of all different backgrounds into your practices and into your communities,” said Katz.

Mishra: Human Connection Sustains Us

Mishra spoke on behalf of all the inductees.

“On behalf of my fellow inductees, I want to thank the chapter for the privilege and the unique opportunity to come together and create a more humanistic world, a world where we can provide compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent care for everyone irrespective of their skin color, race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Where we can truly honor the dignity of an individual,” said Mishra, adding: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing we’ve learned is that the life-sustaining force in medicine is human connection.”

Mishra shared a story about the first COVID-19 patient she treated. “As I walked into his room donned with a cap, a mask, a face shield, I could barely recognize myself. But to my surprise, as soon as I walked in, the patient said: ‘Hey, it’s you, Dr. Mishra. You can’t fool me with that disguise. I could recognize the kindness in your eyes.’ That statement gave me the courage to carry on. All my fears melted,” she said.

“It’s that human connection that truly sustains us. Mahatma Gandhi once said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. So let’s all get together and embark on this journey to find ourselves and give our lives meaning. Congratulations to all,” she said.

Chapter Honors Former Associate Professor

The society is a program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that strives to elevate the values of humanism and professionalism in medicine worldwide.

Marcia Sarkin, GHHS member, was master of ceremonies for the event, which is named in memory of her late husband, Richard T. Sarkin, MD, EdM ’98, who was an associate professor of clinical pediatrics known for his teaching expertise and passion.

“Richard and Marcia Sarkin had a vision long before the rest of us that humanism and patient-centeredness were underappreciated but essential components of excellent patient outcomes and provider wellness. In the ensuing years, Marcia has worked tirelessly to promote humanism in Western New York,” noted Cherr.

The 2020 induction ceremony took place online on June 11, 2020.