Archived Events

COVID-19 K-12 Chat Series

GEM created “The COVID-19 Chat Series”, with faculty, students and staff from The University at Buffalo to answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were able to listen to speakers and ask their questions by joining the Zoom or GEM Facebook Live online  presentations. This series was produced for K-12 students, but was also available to anyone wanting to know more about Coronavirus or COVID-19. Recordings of these chats are available on the GEM COVID-19 K-12 Chat Series page.

“Answering all your Coronavirus and COVID-19 questions"
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Tom Russo, MD, Professor and Chief, Infectious Disease; UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

“Understanding the Spread of COVID Infections using Computers and Big Data”
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Jonathan Bard, Senior Bioinformatics Analyst; UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

“Making Sense of Information – Can I Catch COVID From my Pet?”
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Pamela Rose, UB Health Sciences Librarian and Buffalo Zoo Docent, UB Libraries 

“Wondering about Viruses and Microbiology – How do I stay safe from something I can’t see?”
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Terry-Ann Smith, CTRC Research Facilities and Building Manager

“Wondering about Viruses and Microbiology – What is RNA and how does it make me sick?”
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Chris Rupert, PhD Candidate in Biological Sciences

“Health Research and You” 
Monday, May 11, 2020
Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD; Megan Wilson-Crowley, MPA; Danielle Abramo-Balling; UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute

“How Do We Help COVID-19 Patients Breathe?” 
Friday, May 8, 2020
Carla Moscato, DNP, CRNA; Clinical Assistant Professor, UB School of Nursing.

Screening and Panel Discussion: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

April 26, 2018 at the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: This free screening shared the history of arguably the most important woman in biomedical research, Henrietta Lacks, whose immortal cancer cells were used in research that led to hundreds of medical discoveries, including the development of the polio vaccine, with the public. Following a screening of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a panel of experts discussed ethical concerns in research, along with the state of genetic research, including studies being conducted in Buffalo.

Conferences and Workshops

Buffalo Glycoscience Symposium

January 23, 2020, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The Buffalo Glycoscience Symposium took place on January 23, 2020 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The goal of this symposium was to stimulate discussions on how glycans may play a role in various biological contexts, help initiate collaborations that push the field, and also highlight local resources that are available to the community of scientists.

Cancer Genetics Management in Primary Care Continuing Medical Education

November 16, 2019, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences 

This Continuing Medical Education workshop helps attendees to use family history information to identify patients who might benefit from increased cancer screenin, genetic testing, and/or referral to a genetics specialist.

The Program featured interactive cases with real-time patient interaction and small group discussion; monthly online educational opportunities to reinforce and build on skill, and access to mobile resources to help participants implement these new skills into practice.

At the 2019 CME Workshop, attendees learned how to identify patients with high hereditary cancer risk; communicate benefits and limitations of genetic testing to patients; provide guidance to patients about risk-reducing options; and apply evidence-based guidelines for clinical management decision-making

23rd Annual DNA Replication and Repair Symposium

May 16-17, 2019, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

  • Keynote Speaker, Wei Yang, PhD, National Institutes of Health (NIDDK) "Structure, assembly and reaction chemistry of the DNA replisome"

Application of Genetics to Anthropological Research Workshop (AGAR - 2018)

This 2018 workshop provided students and scholars with experience in analyzing genomic data from installing and combining software to running variant call analyses, visualizing data, and testing for functional enrichment of significant regions. AGAR 2018 is partially funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 1714867) and being organized by the American Association of Anthropological Genetics (AAAG) Education Committee. 

22nd Annual DNA Replication and Repair Symposium

June 7-8, 2018, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

  • Keynote Speaker: Bob Lahue, PhD "Mismatch Repair, Triplet Repeat Expansions and Neurological Disease:  Linking Mechanism with Potential Therapy”

Microbial Aesthetics: Science, Philosophy, Ethics and Art Meet the Microbes. November 16-17, 2018, Coalesce Center for Biological Art, University at Buffalo, North Campus.

  • Practitioners from across the arts, humanities and sciences came together for this two-day symposium to propose and discuss methods and aesthetics of engagement with microbial life from multidisciplinary perspectives to afford new vantages for inquiry.

21st Annual Buffalo DNA Replication and Repair Symposium, June 15-16, 2017, Four Points Sheridan at Niagara Falls

Gene Editing: Life and Law Beyond the Human - Workshop on Emerging Issues in Genetics and the Law, Presented by GEM and UB School of Law as part of the Mitchell Lecture Talks, October 20-21, 2016

  • A two-day groudbreaking workshop bringing together scholars from a diverse range of disciplines to contemplate the complex cultural, scientific, regulatory, and normative implications of gene editing technologies for the future of life.

National DNA Day: Cocktails with Coalesce

The Coalesce Center for Biological Art hosted a public outreach event as part of National DNA Day in April 2017. About 40 adults attended the event, where they learned about DNA and then got to extract DNA from strawberries using pineapple juice and rum. After the experiments concluded, the group enjoyed a selection of fermented foods, which also included Bootleg Bucha samples.

Attendees also were treated to tours of the Coalesce Center for Biological Art, including learning about Coalesce Director Paul Vanouse’s America project, which involves a spittoon, DNA extraction, and the creation of artwork from that endeavor.  For more information about Cocktails with Coalesce, DNA extraction activities and other GEM Outreach Activites, click here.

GEM at UB Mini Med School

Tuesday, April 1, UB South Campus: UB Mini Medical School is presented by the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. For more information about the series and sponsors, please visit the Mini Medical School website.

Session 1 - Genomics Panel Discussion

  • Laurene M. Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD
  • Heather M. Ochs-Balcom, PhD
  • Carolyn Farrell, PhD

Session 2 - Telehealth and Electronic Medical Records

  • David G. Ellis, MD
  • Peter L. Elkin, MD

GEM Science Work-In-Progress Series

These are informal discussions and are held at 4 pm on the last Monday of each month.  The location rotates between the Downtown Medical, North and South campuses.  Click here for more information.

"Targeting the extracellular adenosine pathway to control Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in aged hosts", Monday, November 25, 2019.

Elsa Bou Ghanem, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

"Gaming-based introduction to genetics using dragon breeding in the high-school classroom", Monday, October 28, 2019

Rachael Hageman Blair, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics

"Straight from the Mouth: Glycan Recognition at the Host-Microbiome Interface", Monday April 29, 2019

Stephan Ruhl, DDS, PhD, Professor, Department of Oral Biology

“Identification of genetic and epigenetic determinants in cardio-oncology”, Monday, March 25, 2019

Javier G. Blanco, Clin. Biochem., PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

"Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae, an evolving public health threat”, Monday, February 25, 2019

Thomas A. Russo, MD, Professor and Chief, Infectious Disease; Vice Chair for Finance, Department of Medicine

“Genes for Buffalo - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, November 26, 2018

Peaker: Richard Gronostajski, PhD, Professor, Department of Biochemistry; Director, Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Graduate Program

"Breast cancer genetic testing in African Americans: opportunities to improve knowledge and patient-provider communication", October 29, 2018 


Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, Associate Progessor & Director of Community Translational Research, Department of Family Medicine

Heather Ochs-Balcom, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health 

"‘Omics’ approaches to the study of carbohydrates", August 27, 2018

Speaker: Virginia del Solar Fernandez, PhD, Glycoscience Postdoctoral Associate, Genome, Environment & Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence

“Regulating the Regulator:  Arginine methylation and life cycle stage modulate the function of a master RNA binding protein in trypanosomes”, May 21, 2018

Speaker: Laurie K. Read, PhD, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Biochemistry

"Identifying Keystone Bacteria in Microbiome-Associated Diseases", April 30, 2018

Speaker: Daniel I. McSkimming, PhD, Bioinformatics Research Scientist, Genome, Environment & Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence

"How pathogenic fungi monitor NAD+ levels to sense nutrient availability and modulate genome architecture accordingly", March 26, 2018

Speaker: Laura Rusche, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

“Evolutionary Interplay Between Human Genetic Variation, the Skin Microbiome, and Psoriasis”, February 26, 2018

Speaker: Omer Gokcumen, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

 "Posttranscriptional Regulation of Oral Immunity and the Microbiome", October 30, 2017

Speaker: Keith L. Kirkwood, DDS, PhD, Professor, Clinical Instructor, Department of Oral Biology

"The Airway Microbiome and Lung Cancer in a COPD Cohort", September 25, 2017

Speaker: Manoj J. Mammen, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

“Protists and Fungi in the Oral Microbiome” - August 28, 2017


Gerald Koudelka, PhD, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Mira Edgerton, DDS, PhD, Research Professor, Department of Oral Biology

“Pilot Study of Placental, Oral, and Gut Microbiome Related to Pregnancy” - August 28, 2017


Vanessa Barnabei, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Robert Genco, DDS, PhD, Director, UB Microbiome Center; Distinguished Professor of Oral Biology, Periodontics, Microbiology

“Bile acid metabolizing microbiome in the gut and the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” , June 26, 2017

Speaker: Lixin Zhu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics 

“PPI effects on gut microbiota in diabetic kidney disease patients”, June 26, 2017


Lee Chaves, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Rabi Yacoub, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

"Tracking Sources of Microbial Pollution in Lake Erie Using Culture-Based Methods and Next Generation Sequencing," April 24, 2017

Speaker: Lauren Sassoubre, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

"Dancing with the Human Microbiome: Embodying the Research, Researching the Body," May 27, 2017 

Speaker: Anne Burnidge, MFA, Associate Professor & Associate Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance

"Deriving Genetic Variations from Functional Genomic Assays,"  August 29, 2016

Speaker: Tao Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry

"Glycoscience: The Art of Making Sugars of Different Kinds," May 23, 2016

Speaker: Sriram Neelamegham, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

"An Evolutionary Perspective on the Gut Microbiome--Lessons from Whales," April 25, 2016

Speaker: Charlotte Lindqvist, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

"An Introduction to GENI-ACT: A Novel System to Introduce Students to Microbial Genome Analysis," March 28, 2016

Speaker: Stephen T. Koury, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences

"So You Want to do Microbiome Research,"  February 22, 2016

Speaker: Michael Buck, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry


GEM Distinguished Speakers & Special Seminars

GEM Special Seminar: "Clinical and multi-omics characterization of oral complications of cancer chemotherapy", Monday, November 18, 2019

Speaker: Patricia Diaz, DDS, MS, PhD, Associate Professor Division of Periodontology, Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences

UCONN School of Dental Medicine UCONN Health


Addressing questions of specificity in the TTP family of RNA binding and destabilizing proteins", Thursday, April 4, 2019

Distinguished Speaker: Perry Blackshear, MD, DPhil, Deputy Chief and Senior Investigator, Signal Transduction Laboratory, Post-Transcriptional Gene Expression Group

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institute of Health (NIH)

GEM Performances

Balancing Act performance .

Balancing Act, June 1 - 10 at the Buffalo Museum of Science. 

  • 'Balancing Act' features a series of choreographed vignettes created by Associate Professor Anne Burnidge. The performance navigates the intricacies of the human microbiome and its effects on our mood, relationships, and overall well-being. Through dance sequences, folk-songs, video montage and spoken text, Burnidge and dancers explore issues that affect the homeostasis of the microbial-human ecosystem.
Dance in Process-Process in Dance.

Photo by Laura Nasca

Dance In Process - Process in Dance, December 17 & 18, 2016, Katherine Cornell Theatre, UB North Campus

  • Premiering new work-in-progress by Anne Burnidge: "What We Leave Behind: Exploring the Human Ecosystem and its Microbial Friends."   Featuring choreography and performance by Anne Burnidge, Layra Nasca, Elyssa Bourke, Nancy Hughes and members of the UB Zodiaque Dance Company.

As a hybrid studio laboratory dedicated to enabling hands-on creative engagement with the tools and technologies of the life sciences, Coalesce sponsors several Biological Art residencies per academic year.  More information about Coalesce and the Artists in Residence can be found here.

GEM Coalesce Artist in Residence Talks

Josh Archer, Chris Copeland, Iman Person & Virocode (Peter D'Auria and Andrea Mancuso) "BioArt in the Public Sphere @ Coalesce: Report from the Artist-Researchers in Residence V3" - May 1, 2019 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

Rian Hammond, Gunes-Helene Isitan and Moira Williams "BioArt in the Public Sphere @Coalesce: Report from the Artist-Researchers in Residence" - May 9, 2018 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

Klauss Spiess and Lucie Strecker with Ann Liv Young, "Metabolic Currencies" - April 17, 2017 on UB North Campus

Byron Rich and Mary Tsang, "Open Source Estrogen"

Timo Menke, Plasma Series - February 20, 2017 with UB Media Studies Dept, North Campus

Nicole Clouston, "Soil" - November 18, 2016 on UB North Campus

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, "SELL/BIO" -  October 28, 2016 on UB Medical Campus

Kathy High, "Gut Love" - September 30, 2016 on UB North Campus

Zbigniew Oksiuta, "New Soil - New Building Material" - Bio Art Workshop - Coalesce Biological Art Lab Grand Opening , March 23, 2016

GEM Mind Your Microbiome & Get Smart About Antibiotics Week


GEM Mind Your Microbiome & Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, November 14th - 18th, 2016 & November 13th - 17th, 2017 

In November of 2016, GEM held a weeklong series of innovative activities on the UB campus and in the WNY community to engage everyone--from children, to the general public to research scientists--in learning more about the microbiome and the impact of antibiotics. For more information about Mind Your Microbiome and Get Smart About Antibiotics week, click here

Breakfast with a Scientist with Dr. Julie Segre, November 18, 2016, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

  • Dr. Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), gave a formal presentation on the genetic diversity of the skin microbiome and infectious disease tracking in hospitals. 

All About Good Bacteria Yogurt Giveaway, November 17, 2016, UB Student Union, North Campus

  • An informal, conversational presentation by GEM and UB Pharmacy students.  Pharmacy students created a research poster on the microbiome and offered yogurt samples while educating recipients about "good bacteria."

Fermentation Fair with The Academies, November 15, 2016, UB North Campus

  • An interactive educational demonstration about antibiotic resistance fostered appreciation for beneficial microbes.  A wide variety of fermented foods was also offered to visitors.

Antimicrobial Resistance: Pharmacy & Public Heath Perspectives panel discussion, November 14, 2016, UB South Campus

  • An informative panel discussion featuring community & hospital pharmacists, as well as the commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health

GEM Community Meetings

GEM Research Day and Annual Community Meeting, June 14, 2018 - Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

  • Keynote Speaker: Steven Gill, PhD, Director, Genomics Research Center, Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, Univeristy of Rochester Medical Center
  • The day featured poster presentations and talks from affiliates of the GEM Community of Excellence. 

GEM Community Meeting, May 19, 2017 - CBLS, UB Medical Campus

  • The GEM Community discussed GEM Research, Education and Outreach Activities and other GEM topics.  GEM recognized outstanding member so fhte GEM Community.

GEM Community Meeting - SPIN Workshop and Resource Guidance - Presented by GEM and the UB Office of Research Advancement, October 24, 2016

  • SPIN Workshop, Outreach and Education Updates and Resources Available presented to the GEM Community

GEM Community Meeting, May 20, 2016 - UB Medical Campus

  • Updates on GEM Research, Outreach and Education presented to the GEM Community

GEM Microbiome Workshop, Jenuary 6, 2016 - UB North Campus

  • An introduction to GEM and the GEM Community.  Those in attendance discussed research goals and heard proposals from potential GEM researchers


GEM Education Events

Research Laboratory Program in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (Ongoing): GEM is a proud supporter of this new high school in the Buffalo Public School District.  The school is for students with a passion for inquiry and STEM and uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare students for the growing life sciences economy in Western New York.  GEM and UB CBLS are contracted by the school district to provide an afterschool program.  This is a diverse program with lessons on social and emotional development, healthy cooking and wellness, informal STEM lessons, field trips, and homework assistance.

SEPA (Ongoing): UB Faculty and GEM member, Dr. Steve Koury has been awarded the Science Education Partnership Award to support professional development for teachers and more experiential learning for students in bioinformatics.  Dr. Nowak, GEM Co-Director, is Co-Investigator on the award.  Drs. Nowak and Small annually present to participating teachers and students about the importance of genomics and related careers.

Summer Camp (August 7-18, 2017): Dr. Sandra Small, GEM Science Education Director, led partners on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) in creating a summer camp for students entering 9th grade.  The camp was in collaboration with The Research Laboratory Program.  Students spent time learning about the many careers on the BNMC, and were able to participate in many hands-on activities.  They had the chance to be a biomedical engineer at the Jacob’s Institute, be a genetic counselor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, build a soda bottle launcher at UB CBLS (, and assemble 3D printed hands to be used by children without hands.  

School of Public Health and Health Professions (August 14-18, 2017):  The School of Public Health and Health Professions, in partnership with the Erie-Niagara Area Health Education Center (AHEC), annually offers a summer camp to high school students entering 10th-12 grade.  The camp introduces them to careers in health and medicine.  Dr. Small presents to the students a lesson on the microbiome, proper handwashing, and the existence of both good microbes and germs.

BNMC Open House (Annually in Spring.  May 6, 2017):  The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) annually hosts an open house for area middle and high school students and parents.  Participants are able to visit various buildings on the campus and participate in hands-on learning activities.  Visitors to UB’s CBLS were able to make their own bio-art drawings, using two strains of yeast and petri dishes.  The plates were incubated and then posted on Facebook (Can we link to this specific post on our FB page here?)for participants to view their masterpieces.

Amherst High School STEM Career Fair (April 7, 2017): Dr. Small participated in this fair for Amherst High School students.  Students had the opportunity to extract their own DNA (Link to Lesson Plans Page) and learn about the morality and ethics of new DNA technologies.  Over 100 students participated!

Science Exploration Day (March 22, 2017):  GEM and Coalesce participated in this annual event for high school students.  Over 1,000 high students visit UB’s North Campus for a day of hands-on STEM activities.  Students who visited Coalesce learned about gel electrophoresis and pipetting.  They were able to use their new-found skills to load their own bio-art gel.

Sweet Home Central Schools Family Health Fair (March 11, 2017):  This was the first annual Family Health Fair, held at Glendale Elementary.  Dr. Small used Alex’s Antibiotics (Link to Alex’s Antibiotics on the lesson apge) to education families about the importance of proper antibiotic use.

Annual Genome Day:  This is a partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools.  Four hundred eighth grade students, from around the district, are able to visit UB CBLS and Roswell Park for a half day event.  The students work in small groups with a student, staff, or faculty volunteer to learn about genetics and working in science.  They participate in various activities, including extracting their own DNA and taking it home in a necklace. Over 50 volunteers make this day possible. The 5th annual Genome Day took place on March 26, 2019.  Please contact Dr. Small if you are interested in volunteering at the next Genome Day.

Sweet Home 5th Grade Science Congress (January 13, 2017):  Fifth Grade students from the entire Sweet Home District gather once a year for this event. Students hear from a keynote speaker and spend the morning rotating through concurrent STEM sessions.  Drs. Surtees and Small hosted a session with “Alex’s Antibiotics.” (Link to Alex’s Lesson). Students simulated how antibiotics work and why it is important to our health to use them responsibly.

Second Grade Microbiome Workshops (November 2016):  In an effort to encourage life sciences education at an early age, Dr. Small has trained UB faculty, staff and students to lead second grade students through a microbiome workshop, developed by Dr. Surtees.  The workshops are conducted during multiple classroom visits and allow the second grade students to be scientists and investigate the microbes found on themselves and around the classroom and concludes with an art project.  In November 2016, as part of the 1st annual “Mind Your Microbiome” week, UB students, faculty and staff volunteers delivered this lesson to students in BPS schools #89 and 67 and Sweet Home School District’s Glendale Elementary.

Community Information Tables

The GEM Outreach Team was created in Summer 2017 to conduct a variety of engaging science outreach activities with the general adult public, with a particular focus on community health fairs in the City of Buffalo.

2018/2019 events included: Hopewell Baptist Church Health Fair, UB on the Green, Friendship Baptist Church Health Fair, BNMC Block Party, Erie County Fair, Elmwood Arts Festival, UB Health Fair, SciNight: Dive into your DNA, Science after hours: Frankenscience, Enterprise Charter School Family Night

2017/2018 events included: Juneteenth, Friendship Baptist Church Health Fair, UB On the Green (twice), Miracle  Missions Gospel Church Health Fair, National Night Out at Lincoln Memorial Church, Feds Get Fit Health Fair, BNMC Block Party, and the Elmwood Arts Festival.