The faculty and residents of the Department of Surgery

Message from Dr. Schwaitzberg

To all our prospective applicants and fellow colleagues in the surgical world, we welcome you to the University at Buffalo’s Department of Surgery webpage. Please enjoy your time learning about our ambitious program and residency.

Our department, much like the city of Buffalo, prides itself on hard work and determination to achieve success and we sincerely hope you will be a part of it with us as we look to train tomorrows surgical leaders today.

Dr. Steven Schwaitzberg

‘Nourishing the professional soul’

University at Buffalo surgical resident reinforces the value of her work with community service

While most surgical residents fear work-induced burnout, Kelly Wagner is increasing her workload, and recommends other residents do the same.

Wagner is a surgical resident at the University at Buffalo and the president of the Buffalo chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons. She has been participating in community outreach through AWS since becoming involved with the chapter during her second year of residency. Wagner said her involvement in the community with AWS makes her happier and more invested in her work, despite the additional responsibility.

AWS held its most recent community outreach event at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, where volunteers educated students on the medical field and provided hands-on experience with surgical equipment.

Wagner said these events help increase local representation of women surgeons and provide underserved students with exposure to STEM fields.

“I think sometimes all it takes is just a seven year old, or a seventh grader, or a high school girl to see, ‘Oh, you’re a surgeon, oh my god.’” Wagner said. “Sometimes it’s just seeing that person [who looks like you] and believing it is enough.”

Despite being an organization which highlights women in surgery, Wagner said all AWS’ events are inclusive try to uplift women without separating anyone else. Wagner also hopes to expand AWS’ outreach to include a mentoring program in the future, and is currently working on a Christmas in July event to give back to local organizations.

She said the extra work involved with AWS can be tiring, but the community engagement reminds her of the value of the work she provides.

“By nourishing your professional soul by doing these other things that are still professional, but extracurricular, it makes you a better resident…” Wagner said. “You’re doing all these things and you’re so busy and it can be very easy to forget. But then when you go somewhere like the Ronald McDonald House, or you go to high schools and underserved areas and you see the community, you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is what we’re doing here.’ And it reminds you a little bit more why you’re here in the first place.”

JACKLYN WALTERS – Health Journalist

Bariatric research bridging gaps in cultural health disparities

Multidisciplinary research team to analyze chronic disease in black men

Ekaterina Noyes didn’t expect to form a multidisciplinary team when she began researching bariatric surgery. She didn’t expect to research chronic illness within the black male community, either. But now she is recruiting volunteers for this specific study.

Noyes, professor and director of the Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, is currently conducting a study analyzing health and wellness among black men. She happened upon the topic while researching patients of various weight-loss surgeries and noticed that black men represent only 2% of the patient population. While planning her study, Noyes quickly realized the matter required more than just a surgical perspective. Now, she has a team of professionals investigating the surgical, behavioral, preferential and cultural aspects which affect
the health of black men.

Although still in its early stages, Noyes hopes the research findings will lead to solution implementation in the community as well as further research avenues.

Noyes is working with various local churches as well as patient ambassadors to recruit participants within the study’s target audience.

“Right now we are recruiting more patients… and we want to hear a variety of different opinions because, obviously, people’s opinions vary,” Noyes said. “So we want to do a number of [semi-structured interviews] and once we have a good understanding of the variety of opinions, then we could do a large scale study and start asking people specific questions. Because right now, we don’t even know why this [disparity] is happening.”

Noyes said the study initially included surgeons and researchers, but she expanded her team after finding the topic encompassed more concepts than she originally thought. She said it can be a “humbling experience” to admit there are things outside of one’s expertise, but it leads to stronger research.

“The idea of multidisciplinary, team-based research is critically important,” Noyes said. “Because in reality, the world doesn’t have surgical problems and non-surgical problems, the problems are human problems. And in order to address them appropriately, you need to bring
people with different expertise to the table.”

JACKLYN WALTERS – Health Journalist

Buffalo General surgical resident learns beyond surgery during postdoctoral fellowship

Resident’s DCD kidney research to be published in Clinical Transplantation

Reinier Narvaez will be returning to Buffalo General Medical Center as a third-year surgical resident this July following a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University at Buffalo. But Narvaez’ fellowship taught him more than just top-of-the-line surgical skills. Narvaez will return to Buffalo General with a master’s degree in public health, new
career aspirations and as a published researcher.

During his fellowship, Narvaez researched the effects of premortem heparin on kidney donations after cardiac death. After analyzing discard rates, graft survival and patient survival and delayed graft function, he found that the administration of premortem heparin does not affect
the success of kidney transplants.

Narvaez’ research is among the first of its kind examining heparin’s effects on DCD kidney transplants and will help maximize organ utilization.

His paper, “Outcomes of DCD kidneys recovered for transplantation with versus without premortem heparin administration,” co-written by Katia Noyes, Jing Nie and Liise Kayler, was published in Clinical Transplantation on June 4.

Narvaez said the research took roughly one year and was “pretty tedious.” But his hard work paid off, and his research will remarkably help kidney transplant recipients to come.

Narvaez said his postdoctoral fellowship was “very rewarding” and helped him realize his career goal to become a surgical scientist.

“As a surgical resident, trying to learn how to conduct industry research and write a paper from start to finish is highly valuable,” Narvaez said. “For me, it taught me a skill that I will be using as an academic surgeon in the future.”

Although the fellowship extended Narvaez’ time as a surgical resident, the additional skill set he gained will open new avenues for his career. Getting his master’s in public health has especially given him new perspectives on the effects of his work.

And the research doesn’t stop here for Narvaez, as he is already working on his next project.

“I’m actually writing another paper, but this time, it’s for the liver. So the work that we’re doing [now] also has different implications based on different organ systems,” Narvaez said. “As a transplant surgeon, I’m affecting patients’ lives one patient at a time. [But] with the research, I’m gathering knowledge and gathering information to contribute to the transplant community as a whole.”

JACKLYN WALTERS – Health Journalist