UB students making discoveries before graduation

Some of the innovations that can will make us healthier tomorrow will be developed by students in medical school classrooms today.

On Thursday, UB medical students got together to present their research to the faculty and to each other. The projects ranged from discoveries we can use right now to advances that bring us closer to long-time goals.

Obese people are more likely to die in a car accident than thin people. Why? Chirag Doshi discovered it’s because they’re less likely to wear a seat belt.

“By the time you went from normal individuals to morbidly obese, which is BMI greater than 40, your chance of wearing a seat belt decreased by 67 percent,” Doshi said.

Crash test dummies are normal size, but one-third of Americans are very overweight. That has implications for future automobile design.

Madison Galasso studied a bacteria called Moraxella, which causes about one-third of respiratory illness, including ear infections in children and lung infections in people with emphysema. She found a protein on the surface of the bacteria that could lead to a vaccine.

“It was interesting because I actually found something out that no one else knows, which was kind of cool to me. Even though it’s an initial step in vaccine development, it’s still something that can hopefully be built off of in the future,” she said.

Type 2 Diabetes afflicts millions of Americans. They have resistance to insulin. Steven Gangloff found a protein that is involved in that.

He said, “There’s not a lot known about insulin resistance and how it develops, which is really important because that’s also a potential for new drugs. A lot of drugs for diabetes focus on a single pathway, and this is a new pathway to attack and look at.”

Michele Smith studied HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and antibodies that might prevent it from causing infection.

“These antibodies will bind to it and potentially interfere with infection of DC-4 cells, which is the cell in humans that HIV infects,” she said. “It is at the very beginning and it is a long road, but the idea that we can see an endpoint and have an idea how to get that is very exciting to me.”

These students will graduate in 2016. And then they’ll become residents with more years of training. Several said they were looking forward to staying in Buffalo and working at the new downtown medical center, which will be ready for them when they graduate.

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