Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions: Student Work

Jesse Fodero '13, biochemistry & pre-med major, talks about the opportunities available to students in the Pre-Med program.

Andrew Forrestel '12, a pre-med chemistry major, studied the synthesis of polyamines to be used as drug-agents against trypanosomes (organisms causing African-Sleeping Sickness) in the lab of Mary O'Sullivan, PhD. Andrew attends medical school at the University of Rochester.

Juliann Koleszar ‘13, a pre-med biology major, studied the regulation of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and aVb3 by chemokine and hormone treatments in the lab of Susan Aronica, PhD. Juliann attends medical school at Creighton University.

Nathan Olszewski ‘12, a pre-med biology major, studied conjugated cholesterol and its impact on sterol bulk flow and communication in plants in the lab of Robert Grebenok, PhD. Nate attends medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

James Shea '12, a pre-med biology major with a sociology minor, studied the linkage of the Tonawanda Coke Plant's emissions to the high amount of respiratory problems in the Tonawanda, New York area with Erin Robinson, PhD, Director of Environmental Studies. James attends medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Paul Wirth ‘13, a pre-med biology major, studied long-term vocal changes in the killer whale (Orcinus orca) in the lab of Michael Noonan, PhD. Paul attends medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Vincent Bargnes ‘17, a pre-med biology major, studies the impact of supplemental science education programs in the Buffalo Public Schools with Ann Wright, PhD.

Christopher Petrotto ‘13, a pre-dental biochemistry major, collaborated with a local dentist while he was an undergraduate. They then published this work on mini dental implants for long-term fixed and removable prosthetics. Chris currently attends dental school at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. Mini Dental Implants: A Retrospective Analysis of 5640 Implants Placed Over a 12-year Period. Shatkin TE, Petrotto CA. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2012; 33 Spec 3:2-9.

The PreMedical Center provides travel awards for students to present their research at national conference. The following pre-medical and pre-dental students presented their research at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (Spring 2016) in San Diego.


Notable Alumni:


Jacob Castiglia '12, Joseph Modica '13, Joseph Pittari '14, and Jesse Fodero ’13 - went on to medical school at University of Buffalo where they helped run the Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic in Buffalo.

Kathleen Lillis ’82, MD – Founded and serves as President of Pediatric and Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY

Thomas J. Foels ’77, MD, MMM serves as Chief Medical Officer at Independent Health Association

Michael J Edbauer MBA ’12, DO serves as Chief Medical Officer of Catholic Medical Partners

Jean Wactawski-Wende ’81, PhD, serves as the Dean of the School of Public Health & Health Professions, Professor of Gynecology-Obstetrics at University at Buffalo

Kathryn Grimm '77, MD – Founded and serves as Board Co-Chair of the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo.

Pre-medical students, Sabrina Fitzgerald ’17 and James Rutowski ’17, collaborate with Dr. Jeremy Steinbacher in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Title: A Library of Fluorinated Electrophiles for Chemical Tagging – Toward a 19F MRI Contrast Agent based on Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Abstract: Novel drug-delivery agents are needed to overcome the limitations of systemic toxicity of traditional chemotherapeutics, and an even more powerful paradigm combines delivery and imaging into one agent. One potential platform for such an agent is nano- or microparticles consisting of mesoporous silica, a well-characterized material with minimal toxicity and with great flexibility for chemical functionalization. Much progress has been made using porous silica particles as multifunctional drug-delivery agents, enabling combined delivery and imaging by incorporating contrast agents for optical detection, PET, and proton MRI. One imaging modality not yet combined with porous particles is 19F MRI.
Here, we present efforts to prepare multifunctional silica nanoparticles that incorporate fluorine atoms for detection by 19F MRI. We have synthesized a library of molecules that contain multiple chemically-equivalent fluorine atoms in the form of trifluoromethyl groups. Importantly, the linkers contain a variety of hydrophilic moieties to promote solvation of the fluorine atoms. Also, the fluorinated molecules contain electrophilic groups for facile conjugation to thiol-modified nanoparticles. We have subsequently immobilized these groups to the pores of mesoporous silica nanoparticles that were PEGylated on their exterior surfaces to promote biocompatibility and water-dispersibility. Lastly, we used 19F NMR spectroscopy to detect these immobilized fluorine atoms and measure their magnetic relaxation properties in aqueous systems, demonstrating proof-of-principle that 19F MRI could be used to detect and image these materials.

Pre-medical students, Joe Lesh ‘17, Timothy Utz ‘18, and Jesse Fodero ’13, conduct research with Professor Mary O'Sullivan in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Title: Synthesis of aryl-guanidino spermidine conjugates as potential trypanothione reductase inhibitors


Abstract: Serious diseases are caused by protozoan parasites from the Trypanosomatidae family, including: leishmaniasis (Leishmania major, L. donovani, etc.), African trypanosomiasis (Trypanosoma brucei subspecies) and Chagas disease (T. cruzi). The enzyme trypanothione reductase (TR) is pivotal to the unique antioxidant metabolism of these parasites. This enzyme catalyzes the NADPH reduction of the disulfide of trypanothione. Trypanothione is an unusual glutathione-spermidine conjugate (N1,N8-bis(glutathionyl)spermidine) and the reduced (dithiol) form of trypanothione acts as a reducing agent in several vital processes and is also responsible for maintaining the parasites’ cellular thiol redox balance. Thus inhibitors of TR have potential as novel anti-trypanosomal chemotherapeutics. Here we report the syntheses of several novel aryl-guanidino polyamine derivatives and initial studies of the inhibiting effects of these compounds on recombinant T. cruzi TR. The polyamines investigated were N4-alkyl-aryl substituted spermidines with mono or bis N1,N8-substituted carboxamidino groups and also certain spermine derivatives with Ncarboxamidine and aromatic substituents.

Pre-dental student, William ‘Ben’ Swanson ‘17, conducts research with Professor Mariusz Kozik in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Title: Direct 2D DOSY NMR evidence for oligomer formation by transition-metal substituted polyoxotungstates in nonpolar solvents.

Abstract: Transition-metal substituted polyoxotungstates (TMSPOTs), when transferred into nonpolar solvents, have been reported by several groups as potential catalysts for carbon dioxide reduction. Therefore, their structures in nonpolar solvents are of great interest. Based on 31P NMR, UV/VIS, and DFT computations we suggested recently that cobalt-substituted phosphotungstate with Keggin structure (PW11CoO39) forms dimers in a dry toluene. This poster reports 31P 2D DOSY NMR measurements which demonstrate the existence of species with diffusion coefficient ratio approximately equal to the ratio of radii for dimers and monomers of tetraheptylammonium salts of PW11Co. This constitutes a direct evidence for dimer formation by TMSPOTs in toluene. After coordinated water leaves cobalt in dry toluene, an oxide ion from a second PW11Co coordinates to that cobalt, leading to dimer formation. 
On the other hand, we suspected that TMSPOT with two water molecules coordinated to two cobalt atoms [P2W18Co4O68(H2O)2] forms trimers in dry toluene. 31P 2D DOSY NMR indeed demonstrate the existence of species in dry toluene with diffusion coefficient ratio predicted for trimers and monomers of  that compound.

Pre-medical student Gurkaran (Gary) Johal ‘18 collaborates with Professor Peter Schaber in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to conduct chemical education research.

Title: Adulterated orange juice: An introduction to analytical chemistry through use of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the case study approach

Abstract: As a part of the junior/senior level analytical instrumentation course at Canisius College, modern, real-life situations and Case Study experiments are included to increase student’s exposure to situations that may occur in their real and professional lives. This study utilizes HPLC to determine the concentrations of two compounds, naringin and neohesperidin, in solutions comprising different ratios of grapefruit to orange juice. The Case Study centers on determining if an orange juice supplier has exceeded the legal limit for the addition of grapefruit juice to orange juice.