The Future of the Future: Roswell Park Recruitments Target Unprecedented Opportunity for Progress


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Driven to move the mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center forward despite the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it, Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD, has marked a year of unprecedented success in faculty recruitment

Candace S. Johnson, PhD

Candace S. Johnson, PhD

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Driven to move the mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center forward despite the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it, Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD, has marked a year of unprecedented success in faculty recruitment. In the past year, Dr. Johnson has recruited 50 physicians, scientists and senior administrators with sought-after training and experience to Roswell Park to serve in key positions.

These signature appointments include the hiring of nationally and internationally known leaders to helm Roswell Park’s work in critical areas:

Renier Brentjens, MD, PhD, as Deputy Director, The Katherine Anne Gioia Endowed Chair in Cancer Medicine, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Oncology in the Departments of Medicine and Immunology. Dr. Brentjens, who helped develop the branch of immunotherapy known as cellular therapy and pave the way to the first FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies, joins Roswell Park in September from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he was Director of Cellular Therapeutics.

  • Jeff Walker, MBA, recruited in early 2021 from City of Hope Cancer Center in Southern California to serve as Executive Vice President of Operations and Transformation. Jeff helps shape strategic goals and objectives, manages operational, financial and some clinical functions, and plays a leadership role in the day-to-day activities of the center.
  • Jamie Smith, EdD, MLS, appointed in May to helm Roswell Park’s broad education program as Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Smith joined Roswell Park from Erie Community College, where she served as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Liberal Arts, Sciences and Initiatives.
  • Lauren Bruckner, MD, PhD, as Chief Medical Information Officer. Dr. Bruckner will join Roswell Park in September following a 14-year tenure at the Golisano Children’s Hospital and University of Rochester Medical Center in roles including Clinical Director of the Pediatric General Inpatient Units, Medical Director of Patient Engagement and Children’s Health Informatics Officer.

"The future of oncology is at Roswell Park,” says Dr. Johnson, who has led the cancer center since 2015. “Cancer treatment is moving very quickly, and we are right there with it, helping to drive those paradigm changes with new therapies, new ideas, new hope — and new opportunities for tomorrow’s cancer innovators. This strategic growth capitalizes on an explosion in our understanding of cancer. We are targeting opportunities to break new ground in the most promising areas of cancer care and research. It’s an incredibly exciting time to work in oncology, and there is nowhere we would rather be doing this work than at Roswell Park.”

Dr. Johnson also promoted four faculty leaders to serve as department Chairs or Chiefs this year:

  • Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD, Chair of Immunology
  • Carl Morrison, MD, DVM, Chair of Pathology
  • Gyorgy Paragh, MD, PhD, Chair of Dermatology
  • Elisa Rodriguez, PhD, MS, Chief Diversity and Equity Officer for Faculty

New team members brought on to work with these senior leaders in key clinical, research and education roles in the past year are:

Ayham Al Afif, MD — Dr. Al Afif joins Roswell Park’s Head & Neck program after completing his fellowship at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He earned his medical degree from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

  • Sylvia Alarcon, MD — One of the newest members of Roswell Park’s gastrointestinal medicine team, Dr. Alarcon comes to Roswell Park after completing her hematology-oncology fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.
  • Saba Ali, MD — Board-certified in hematopathology as well as anatomic and clinical pathology, Dr. Ali joins us from the El Camino Pathology Group in California. She will be a member of our Pathology and Laboratory Medicine team.
  • John Bonnewell, MD, MSc — Following a fellowship at Duke University, Dr. Bonnewell joins Roswell Park as an Infectious Disease physician. His interests include molecular diagnostics for acute bacterial infection as well as advancing early sepsis diagnosis and care.
  • Natalya Buxbaum, MD — Dr. Buxbaum is a physician-scientist who is part of our pediatric hematology/oncology team. Her research specialties include stem cell transplantation as well as cellular therapy.
  • Joseph Caveney, MD — Dr. Caveney, the newest member of our Transplant and Cellular Therapy team, recently completed a fellowship in blood and marrow transplantation at Stanford University.
  • Elizabeth Conroy, MD, FAAD — Dr. Conroy leads the team at Roswell Park Dermatology, the newest Roswell Park Care Network site, in Depew. Having practiced as a dermatologist across the region for over two decades, Dr. Conroy provides specialized cancer and general dermatology services all under one roof.
  • Chia-Hsin “Lori” Chan, PhD — A cancer biologist, Dr. Chan his leading a lab team within the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology that is examining how a linkage of small protein known as ubiquitin can contribute to processes underlying cancer development.
  • Mary Frances Croake, DO — Dr. Croake joins Roswell Park’s Diagnostic Radiology team after completing residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is a graduate of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Alexander Croake, MD — Earning his medical degree from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Dr. Croake will work as a physician in Diagnostic Radiology.
  • Anthony Dakwar, MD — Dr. Dakwar is a surgical oncologist specializing in colorectal surgery. He earned his medical degree from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel.
  • Fadi Darwiche, MD — A general urologist and urologic oncologist, Dr. Darwiche is part of the Roswell Park Care Network, caring for patients at our Niagara Falls and Southtowns locations.
  • Ravi Doobay, MD, FRCPC — Dr. Doobay, who completed a residency in internal medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where he, and has joined our Critical Care Medicine program as Assistant Professor . He was previously on staff with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
  • Gregory Freund, MD — Joining the Pathology Department as Co-Chief and Director of Cytopathology, Dr. Freund came to Roswell Park from the Illinois College of Medicine-Urbana. He is a nationally renowned cytopathologist with over 25 years of experience.
  • Kai Fu, MD, PhD — Dr. Fu was appointed earlier this year as Co-Chief of Pathology and Director of Hematopathology. He came to us from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he served as an attending hematopathologist for the last 16 years. 
  • Dharmesh Gopalakrishnan, MD — Dr. Gopalakrishnan joins the genitourinary team after completing a hematology-oncology fellowship at Roswell Park this year. He recently earned a 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Award for kidney cancer research he worked on in collaboration with Dr. Saby George.
  • Niels Gothgen, MD — A board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Gothgen will join the Roswell Park staff in October as part of the Critical Care team.
  • Steven Green, MD — Dr. Green is a medical oncologist with the Leukemia Service. He recently completed a hematology/oncology fellowship at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Zong Sheng Guo, PhD — Dr. Guo is Co-Director of Vector Development and Production as well as the Translational Immuno-Oncology Shared Resource.
  • Kaitlyn Hartman, MD — Dr. Hartman has joined Roswell Park’s Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine as a physician faculty member. A graduate of St. John Fisher College and the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, she did her internship, anesthesiology residency and a fellowship in cardiothoracic anesthesiology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
  • Prantesh Jain, MD, FACP — New to Roswell Park this August, Dr. Jain is a part of our Thoracic department. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and attended Kasturba Medical College in India.
  • Sehrish Jamot, MD — Dr. Jamot will join the Roswell Park team in September as an advanced endoscopist. She is a graduate of Rutgers University-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed fellowships with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University as well as Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
  • Norman Karin, PhD — A longtime member of our Education office, Dr. Karin rejoined our team last year as Associate Dean for Education.
  • Karin Kasza, PhD — A longtime researcher with Roswell Park, Dr. Kasza was appointed to a faculty position as Assistant Member of the Department of Health Behavior
  • Dae-Kyum Kim, PhD — Dr. Kim will join Roswell Park this fall following a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Toronto, and will establish the Kim Lab within Cancer Genomics and Genetics.
  • Drew Kuraitis, MD — Dr. Kuraitis, a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine, joins Roswell Park’s Dermatology program from a residency at Tulane.
  • Safet Lekperic, MD, RPVI — Dr. Lekperic joins the interventional radiology team from a fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He and the IR team continue to offer the ability to treat and medically manage numerous diseases across organ systems.
  • Alicia Lieberman, MD — Board-certified in rheumatology, internal medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Lieberman has provided rheumatologic care for children and adults in Western New York for several years.
  • Tallat Mahmood, MD — Dr. Mahmood will serve as Medical Director of a soon-to-open medical oncology and chemotherapy/infusion center in Schenectady, N.Y., to be operated through a collaboration between Ellis Medicine and the Roswell Park Care Network.
  • Robert McGray, PhD — A longtime researcher with Roswell Park, Dr. McGray has been appointed to a faculty position as Assistant Member of the Department of Immunology.
  • Justin McMaster, MD — Dr. McMaster joins Roswell Park’s anesthesiology program from a fellowship with the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. A graduate of Queens University and Saba Medical School, he will be providing care for our pediatric patients throughout our center.
  • Sadat Ozair, MD — Dr. Ozair is a medical oncologist and hematologist with the Roswell Park Care Network, and splits his time between our Park Club Lane and Roswell Park Hematology Oncology Southtowns sites. A graduate of Dow University of Health Sciences, he completed a hematology-oncology fellowship at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Susan Pei, MD — A dermatologist and dermatopathologist, Dr. Pei joined Roswell Park late last year as both a staff physician from our Dermatology team and also applies her subspecialty training as Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
  • Anoop Prabhu, MD — Most recently on staff with the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center in Michigan, Dr. Prabhu will join the Roswell Park team as an advanced endoscopist in October.
  • You-Wen Qian, MD, PhD — Dr. Qian joins Roswell Park’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He comes to Buffalo from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
  • Spencer Rosario, PhD — Dr. Rosario, who recently completed postdoctoral work at Roswell Park, joined the faculty of the Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Department as Assistant Professor of Oncology in March.
  • Ioannis Sanidas, PhD — Dr. Sandias comes to Roswell Park Cellular Biology after spending several years as an instructor with Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
  • Joanna Stanson, MS — Joanna joins our Immuno-Oncology program as Director of the Cell Processing Facility.
  • Andrew Storer, PhD, DNP, FNP-C, ACNP-BC, ENP-C, FAANP, Executive Director of Nursing Education. Dr. Storer joined us last fall from Massachusetts, where he served as Assistant Dean for Graduate and Post-Licensure Programs at Elms College School of Nursing.
  • Pamela Sung, MD, PhD — Dr. Sung is a physician with Roswell Park’s Leukemia Service. She comes to Buffalo via Philadelphia, having spent several years as a researcher and fellow with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
  • Mercy Tomy, MD — Dr. Tomy joins the Supportive and Palliative Care team in September following residency at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The department focuses on quality—of—life issues facing cancer patients throughout their cancer journey.
  • Deepak Vadehra, DO — Dr. Vadehra is a medical oncologist with Roswell Park’s GI department. He completed a fellowship with Carolinas Medical Center as well as residency with the University of Connecticut.
  • Hai Wang, PhD — Dr. Wang has joined Roswell Park from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. He is an Assistant Member/Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology.
  • Chi Mei "Cindy" Wong, MD — Dr. Wong joins a robust group of imaging experts in Roswell Park’s Breast Imaging Clinic. She most recently completed her fellowship with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
  • Brian Rundall, DO — Dr. Rundall joined Roswell Park this year as an Academic Clinical Associate in Thoracic Surgery.
  • Karolina Wrzeszcz-Onyenma, MD — Dr. Wrzeszcz-Onyenma has joined the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine. Board-certified in both anesthesiology and pediatric anesthesiology, she has previously worked at Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center in Paintsville, Kentucky; SUNY Upstate Medical University; and, most recently, at Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or

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