Residency Program

Current Residents

Evan Winograd, MD – Chief PGY-7

Dr. Winograd, born and raised in Wisconsin, graduated in 2008 from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neurobiology. He continued his education at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine in Israel, where he received his Medical Doctorate in 2012. During this time he focused his research on malignant transformation in pediatric neuroepithelial tumors and prognostic markers.

Michael Kogan, MD, PhD PGY-6

Michael was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and immigrated to Philadelphia at the age of five. He completed his undergraduate education at Temple University, having graduated with summa cum laude with a degree in psychology and a minor in molecular biology. During his undergraduate years, he also worked for two years at the Wistar Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Meenhard Herlyn studying the molecular pathogenesis of melanoma transformation. Subsequently, Michael attended Temple University School of Medicine for the combined MD/PhD program. During his PhD years, he investigated the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 interaction with innate immunity via effects on NF-kB signaling in macrophages under the mentorship of Dr. Jay Rappaport. Michael continues to hold a strong enthusiasm in academics and his research interests in neurosurgery are in the fields of deep brain stimulation and computer-brain interface design. Michael is considering future specialization in functional, pediatric, peripheral nerve, endoscopic, spine, or skull base fields.

Kunal Vakharia, MD PGY-6

Kunal was born in Philadelphia, PA and was raised in State College, PA. He completed his undergraduate education at Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Biology. He continued his education at Thomas Jefferson Medical College graduating with his medical doctorate in 2013. His clinical interests include open and endovascular neurosurgery as well as minimally invasive spine. He continues to enjoy playing video games and traveling.

Justice Agyei, MD PGY-5

Justice was born and raised in Ghana. He immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 13. In the United States, his family settled in The Bronx, New York where he completed high school. He completed his undergraduate education at SUNY at Albany with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He remained in Albany and obtained his medical degree at Albany Medical College. His clinical interests include pediatric neurosurgery and spine surgery. During his leisure, he enjoys exercising, movies, music, video games and spending time with friends.

Tim O’Connor, MD PGY-5

Tim O’Connor, MD attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate education, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Neurobiological Sciences. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida in 2014, where he graduated with Honors in Research and Honors in Academic Excellence. During medical school he received the C. Craig Tisher Faculty Award, was invited to join the UF medical school admissions committee, and was elected into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society.

Dr. O’Connor is a graduate of multiple tactical medicine courses, and during his first year of medical school joined the Jacksonville Beach Police SWAT team. After graduating from the Basic SWAT Team Operations Course, he returned to Camp Blanding for several years to help train local and federal officers. He was an instructor for programs in the private sector that provided training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care to law enforcement, military personnel, and the US Department of Homeland Security.

Dr. O’Connor plans on pursuing his interests in complex spine, and is excited to continue his neurosurgical training at the University at Buffalo. He enjoys riding motorcycles, snowboarding, and spending time with his wife and two golden retrievers.

Ashish Sonig, MD PGY-5

Dr. Ashish Sonig came to the United States after completion of Neurosurgical Training from well-known National Institute of mental health and Neurosciences(NIMHANS), Bangalore India.To pursue his interest in skull base and cerebrovascular Neurosurgery, he completed his skull base fellowship with Dr. Anil Nanda, LSU-HSC Shreveport, Louisiana and Endovascular Neurosurgery Fellowship at University at Buffalo. During his fellowship period at Buffalo, Dr. Sonig won the prestigious Galbraith CNS award for best paper and also won the Shirley Dudek Demmer Chair of Research award from “Brain Aneurysm Foundation” for his work on micro RNA in cerebral aneurysms. Dr. Sonig has over 50 publications.

Patrick Jowdy, MD PGY-4

Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Patrick completed his undergraduate education summa cum laude at the State University of New York at Buffalo with a degree in the Biomedical Sciences. He continued on to complete his medical school education at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences graduating with his medical doctorate in 2015. During his medical school years, he was selected for a research internship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where he studied the impact of tumor microenvironment on tumor evolution. He has a wide range of clinical interests including vascular neurosurgery and brain tumors. During his free time, he enjoys biking, volleyball, and snowboarding.

Amade Bregy, MD, PhD PGY-4

Amade was born in Switzerland, where he attended medical school and completed his PhD with summa cum laude at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He focused his research on sutureless tissue fusion for cerebrovascular bypass procedures before moving to the United States. At the University of Miami, Florida, he pursued research in the fields of traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury and epilepsy followed by clinical brain tumor research. His main clinical interest is vascular neurosurgery.

Matthew McPheeters, MD, MBA PGY-3

Dr. Matthew McPheeters grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and completed his undergraduate education at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in health science studies. He received his Medical Doctorate and Master of Business Administration at the University of Minnesota, where he served as the president of the medical student council and worked as a health and medicine content creator at Khan Academy. His clinical interests include open and endovascular neurosurgery as well as minimally invasive spine surgery.

David Smolar, MD PGY-3

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Dr. David Smolar attended Emory University for his undergraduate studies. He returned to Emory to earn his Master of Science in chemistry, researching therapeutics that modulate post-stroke inflammatory damage. David also worked as a chemist for an Atlanta biotech company producing biologically friendly methods to recycle paper. David earned his doctorate of medicine from the Medical College of Georgia. His clinical interests in neurosurgery are broad, but he is considering specializing in spine surgery. His research interests lie in improving care for patients with neurotrauma and closed head injuries.

Justin Cappuzzo, MD PGY-3

Dr. Justin M. Cappuzzo was born and raised in Northern New Jersey. He attended Ramapo College of New Jersey for his undergraduate studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry (ACS Certified) in 2011. Dr. Cappuzzo spent the following year working as a chemistry teacher at Roxbury High School, where he attended high school just a few years earlier. Afterwards, Dr. Cappuzzo attended medical school at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC, and graduated in 2016 with a Research Track specialization for which he earned the Health Services Scholarship for his research on the role of FoxD4 on neuronal differentiation. He was also elected by his peers as the Commencement Speaker for the graduation ceremony. Dr. Cappuzzo subsequently completed his internship in General Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, in 2017 before joining the UB Neurosurgery Department the following academic year. Dr. Cappuzzo’s clinical interests include cerebrovascular/endovascular neurosurgery, as well as surgical education. He has a diverse research background including organic chemistry, physics, and neuroscience. He is also interested in using technology to improve patient care in healthcare. In his spare time, Dr. Cappuzzo enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with his family and friends.

Steven (Blake) Housley, MD PGY-2

From humble beginnings in rural eastern Tennessee, Dr. Steven B. Housley completed his undergraduate studies in Anthropology at The University of Tennessee. Prior to attending medical school, he completed a Master of Science and spent two years in Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease research at the University of South Florida. His specific research foci were frontotemporal dementia and similar tauopathies. During medical school at the University of South Florida, Dr. Housley completed a scholarly concentration in Law & Medicine, where he focused on analysis of the intricate medico-legal environment of today’s healthcare system. His specific interests on this front relate to healthcare management, cost-effectiveness, and the ever-increasing integration of healthcare law into medical practice. This has translated into several research projects involving the feasibility of Medicaid expansion and cost-effectiveness of Vagus nerve stimulation in the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy. Dr. Housley has diverse interests in the field of neurosurgery, and looks forward to a long and fruitful career. Outside of clinical practice, he enjoys time with family and being outdoors.

Matthew Recker, MD PGY-2

Dr. Matthew Recker grew up in Central Pennsylvania and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pittsburgh, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience. He earned his Medical Doctorate from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society for his academic achievements. He also received the Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship for his work investigating the mTOR signaling pathway and its link to axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury.  Dr. Recker has a particular interest in providing surgical care to the developing world and is considering specialized training in pediatric neurosurgery, skull base neurosurgery, and neurosurgical oncology.

Alexander Becker, MD PGY-1

Dr. Alexander Becker is a native of Buffalo and attended high school in Williamsville, NY. He went on to Ithaca College where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Exercise Science with a Medical Emphasis and Chemistry minor. He returned home to Buffalo to attend medical school at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.   In medical school, he served as president of the Neurosurgery Interest Group, a group that aims to enhance medical students’ exposure to the field of neurosurgery.

Dr. Becker is excited to continue his training with University at Buffalo Neurosurgery and be able to further treat patients from Western New York. His interests in neurosurgery are vast and include pediatric and skull base surgery, as well as research in quality improvement. In his free time Dr. Becker enjoys cycling, sailing and spending time with friends and family.

Jaims Lim, MD PGY-1

Dr. Jaims Lim was born and raised in Queens, New York, and he completed his undergraduate education at Emory University, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then went on to complete his medical education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine earning his Medical Doctorate in 2018. In medical school, Dr. Lim actively pursued research on hydrocephalus, traumatic spinal injuries, and stroke as a research fellow of the Surgical Outcomes Center for Kids at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Lim has particular clinical research interests in pediatric, vascular, and oncological neurosurgery. He enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and family.

Hussain Shallwani, MD PGY-1

Dr. Hussain Shallwani received his medical education from the Aga Khan University – Medical College in Pakistan. Along with a passion for Neurosurgery, Dr. Shallwani developed an interest in academia during his early years in medical school. He was actively involved in a number of research projects and published a number of articles focused on outcomes and prognosis after surgery. He continued his academic endeavors as a research fellow at the Department of Neurosurgery at State University of New York at Buffalo, where he published extensively on the topic of endovascular treatment and its outcomes for stroke and aneurysms.

Dr. Shallwani is enthusiastic about his clinical training in Neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is motivated to continue his research, with emphasis on outcome-based studies. His interests include skull-base and cerebrovascular surgery, and neurosurgical oncology.