Published June 16, 2023
By Dirk Hoffman
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences celebrated scientific achievements and outstanding service and teaching contributions during its 2023 Faculty and Staff Recognition Awards event.
This year’s event took place June 14 at the M&T Auditorium in the Jacobs School building.
Zhen Yan, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of physiology and biophysics, and an acclaimed neuroscientist, is this year’s winner of the Stockton Kimball Award for outstanding scientific achievement and service.
In presenting the award, Suzanne G, Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean of faculty affairs, noted Yan’s “work is not only of the highest scientific caliber, it is also of great significance from the dual standpoints of biology and medicine.”
Yan’s research is aimed at discovering the pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment strategies for brain disorders, particularly the role of synaptic and epigenetic aberrations in autism, stress-linked neuropsychiatric disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is tempting to rely upon quantitative measures to in part characterize the achievements of Dr. Yan that places her in the top 3 percent among molecular and cellular neurobiologists of her generation,” Laychock said.
“Her ongoing pursuit of excellence in teaching, scientific research and service have enriched the intellectual environment and technological expertise here at the Jacobs School and UB,” Laychock added.
Yan will deliver the Stockton Kimball Lecture in 2024.
The award recognizes individuals who have provided extraordinary service to the school and who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference.
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, noted that she personally chooses the recipients.
“As senior associate dean for graduate medical education (GME) and the school’s GME Designated Institutional Official, Dr. Cherr oversees residency training in more than 70 programs sponsored by the Jacobs School in affiliated hospitals throughout Western New York,” Brashear said.
Cherr received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his general surgery and vascular surgery training at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is a graduate of leadership and development fellowships sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and workshops hosted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Cherr is a core faculty member of the Jacobs Educator Excellence Program and a facilitator with the Harvard-Macy Health Educators program.
Prior to this role, he served as the general surgery student clerkship director and the residency program director.
He also chairs the Advisory Council of the national Gold Humanism Honor Society and is a member of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Board.
Kamina has been with the Jacobs School since 2011 when she joined the school as a research assistant. Today, she is assistant dean for student development and academic enhancement and interim unit diversity officer. She is also director of the Natural Sciences Interdisciplinary Master’s Program.
Kamina is an alumna of the PhD programs in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) at the Jacobs School, where she received her doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology.
She served as the Jacobs School’s program coordinator for the Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity (iSEED), and was the program coordinator for the Early Opportunity Program in Medicine (EOPIM).
“Dr. Kamina is an active participant in several committees focused on improving the learning environment such as the Diversity Inclusion and Learning Environment (DIALE) committee and ones that are focused on increasing the school’s engagement with its neighboring communities,” Brashear said.
“Congratulations Dr. Cherr and Dr. Kamina! You are an inspiration to all of us!” she added.
The John P. Naughton, MD, Award was established in 1999 by Naughton, who served as dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for 23 years.
This award recognizes outstanding staff members. They are often among the “unsung heroes” of the school’s evolution and forward movement, individuals who contribute significantly to the advancement of the school and to the fulfillment of its mission.
“This year I am pleased to recognize Glenn Laderer as our 2023 Naughton awardee. Glenn is a programmer and data analyst in the Office of Medical Computing and has served the OMC since May 2001,” Brashear said.
“He has had a significant impact on the school through ensuring the successful operation of critical school programs and support of individual faculty.”
Brashear noted among Laderer’s critical responsibilities are the successful completion of the Medical Student Residency Match process, retrieval and delivery of Shelf exam results, backup registrar for the Office of Medical Education, and he created a system that has been in use for over 17 years that tracks medical students’ performance throughout their pre-clinical course work and generates reports of student performance.
Laderer is currently developing a new Anatomical Gift Program inventory tracking system. His extra service has included assistance with the launch of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) faculty satisfaction assessment survey and analysis of COACHE results for the Jacobs School.
“Glenn is always willing to take on new challenges, is dependable, and will put in the extra effort to finish projects in a timely manner and support the school in any way he can,” Brashear said. “The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has, and continues to, greatly benefit from his crucial ‘behind the scenes’ contributions.”
The Robert S. Berkson, MD, Memorial Award in the Art of Medicine is presented annually in memory of Robert S. Berkson.
“Dr. Berkson was loved by his patients, respected by colleagues and students, and his special expertise in the ‘Art of Medicine’ is meant to be perpetuated in this award,” said Alan J. Lesse, MD, associate dean for medical curriculum.
“This year’s Berkson Awardee is an internist and endocrinologist who is admired by patients, staff, and colleagues.”
“In addition to his skills as a clinician, this physician has volunteered his time to be an active member of the Curriculum Committee, the body which oversees the education of medical students at the Jacobs School,” Lesse said. “As part of his Curriculum Committee work, he has been involved with efforts to recognize the crucial role that volunteer physicians play in educating our medical students.”
“The committee has therefore selected Howard Lippes, MD, of R&B Medical Group as the recipient of the 2022 Berkson Award,” Lesse said.
A pair of medical students were awarded the third annual Joseph Robert Love Scholastic Leadership Award, which recognizes inspirational leadership for groundbreaking service and dedication to advancing the Jacobs School’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and social justice.
Joseph Robert Love, MD, was the first African-American graduate with a medical degree from the University at Buffalo, and was a teacher, a physician, a clergyman, a politician and an activist.
The students are:
During his time as a medical student, Bonsu has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities. He is a co-founder of the Jonathan Daniels Chapter of Black Men in White Coats, and the Jonathan Daniels Chapter of White Coats for Black Lives — two chapters that are focused on mentorship, community service and social justice.
He is dedicated to the service of mentoring youth and has served as the MAPs liaison for the Student National Medical Association and as a math instructor for high school students from Black and brown communities in Buffalo who are interested in medicine in in the biomedical Science and Technology Entry Program.
Since starting medical school, Foote has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and dedication to creating an inclusive environment. She has worked as a co-forensic coordinator for the Human Rights Initiative, a student-run clinic that supports asylum seekers by providing medical and psychological forensic evaluations.
She has collaborated in the development of medical curriculum focused on understanding cultural, legal and political issues affecting the health of DACA recipients and children who are undocumented.
Foote also volunteers with the seventh generation operation, an organization focused on introducing high school students who identify as Native American to health care careers. She has made a positive impact by fostering an inclusive learning environment and by her service to community groups that are underserved in medicine.
Awards of Excellence for Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity recognize individuals who work to create a welcoming climate of respect and inclusiveness for all at the medical school, at UB and in the Western New York communities.
They were presented by Anyango Kamina, PhD.
“Dr. K (as her nominators call her) is described as a physician who approaches each patient with kindness, compassion, respect and goes the extra mile to make sure each patient receives the proper care they deserve,” Kamina said.
“She has championed the use of holistic review of all applicants applying to their residency program. She has done so by limiting potential unconscious biases with the exclusion of pictures and test scores while focusing on the individuals’ achievements and personal experiences, to highlight what they could bring to the residency program.”
“The culture in the internal medicine program has changed drastically since her inauguration as program director. She offers lectures on implicit bias training, has created a Women in Medicine mentorship program and is dedicated to advocacy. She often leads discussions on race, and difficult conversations to help promote a better understanding of these topics.”
Lerner has been a key driver of community engagement initiatives and promoting discussions on diversity within the Department of Emergency Medicine, Kamina said.
She has participated in initiatives like the “Diaper and Baby Needs Drive” and the “Niagara Pride Annual Sock Drive.” Additionally, she has created “diversity minutes” where at the beginning of each team meeting, they host a brief discussion on a recent topic related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“This has created a space for her team to learn and engage in important conversations about issues that affect our community,” Kamina said. “With her guidance, the Department of Emergency Medicine set up a DEI resources page within the department SharePoint for faculty and residents to explore and educate themselves on topics relating to diversity.”
“Dr. Lerner’s efforts have not only had a positive impact on the communities that we serve but have also strengthened her team's commitment to diversity and inclusivity and helped develop a greater appreciation for the importance of creating a supportive environment for all individuals.”
Sengupta has created structural competency curriculum designed to foster a deeper understanding of the ways in which the structural elements of society (poverty, racism, community development, access to institutions and services) impact the development and overall wellness of individuals and communities.
She collaborates with other UB departments on structural competency curricula and initiatives within their training programs.
Additionally, she has led the child psychiatry fellows in a quality improvement project within the Children’s Psychiatry Clinic to screen for impact of social determinants of health and barriers to care.
Elizabeth is an amazing advocate and exceptional educator working hard to improve medical training to reduce inequalities in care,” Kamina said.
“Valeria is a passionate and intelligent medical student who truly embodies someone who understands the meaning of diversity and inclusion,” Kamina said.
She is actively engaged as the past president of the Latino Medical Student Association chapter. She is a co-founder and the social media chair for the newly formed Jonathan Daniels Chapter of White Coats for Black Lives.
Additionally, she has worked collaboratively with faculty and her peers as an anti-racism instructional resource reviewer. In this role she helped identify, review and critically appraise resources and materials that may be used in the new curriculum.
“Through her mentorship, initiatives and community service, Valeria has proven her commitment of care for those around her,” Kamina said.
“Danika is known to be a passionate practitioner and advocate,” Kamina said.
She has been using her free time between her clinical shifts and studying to plan and implement her resident advocacy project, which is titled “Medicine of Tomorrow: Inspiring Children of Diverse Backgrounds to Pursue Careers in Medicine.”
Cziranka-Crooks has developed interactive, educational workshops for students to engage with groups of children ages 5-18 years old. The workshops are designed to expose children from disadvantaged backgrounds to the field of medicine. To date she has already trained 13 medicals student to conduct these workshops with children and has applied for multiple grants for funding.
“She is very dedicated to helping to diversify the medical workforce,” Kamina said.
“Sri has participated and made significant contributions in various programs at UB to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” Kamina said.
“For example, as a member of DEI committee at the Institute for Myelin and Glia Exploration, she recently brought up an issue about the lack of and need for sanitary products throughout the campuses,” she said. “As a result of her proposal, they now have those products available in women’s restrooms at the Institute. She made the same proposal for entire UB campuses through her involvement in another DEI committee, and her proposal has been approved.”
“We all appreciate Sri’s spirit and leadership in helping UB become a better place to study and work.”
Ferrante has been described as a team member who “creates a welcoming climate of respect and inclusiveness.” She has served on the leadership team of the Child Health and Behavior Lab for three years as a mentor to trainees and staff.
She has partnered with the Independent Health Foundation to evaluate their Healthy Options at Home program, which aims to promote cooking skills and facilitate preparation and consumption of healthy foods among Buffalo area families living with low incomes.
Ferrante is also an Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice’s program facilitator, preparing all health professions students to deliberatively work together to cultivate a safer and more effective patient and community and population-centric U.S. health care system.
“Her commitment to mentorship and community service are examples of excellence in promoting inclusion and cultural diversity,” Kamina said.