Student Spotlight: Daniel Bujnowski

M2 wins Carolyn Kuckein Research Fellowship

By Sam Uhlarik

Medicine isn’t just a profession for Daniel Bujnowski, it’s personal. Over the years, the second-year medical student has watched his brother battle cerebral palsy, undergoing countless orthopedic surgeries and blood transfusions. It’s those experiences that motivate Bujnowski to seek new ways to improve care for people with chronic conditions. With the support of the 2021 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, he will be able to do just that. The fellowship provides $5,000 to a medical student in the Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA) Honor Medical Society. Learn more about Bujnowski’s research and how Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine supports his dream:

What is the focus of your research?

My project examines the outcomes of total knee and hip replacements in patients who have thrombocytopenia–deficiency of platelets in the blood–and whether transfusions affect these outcomes. I am particularly excited about the potential outcome of this study, which may provide evidence to help clarify current discrepancies in literature regarding the need for preoperative platelet count testing and optimal platelet levels to reduce adverse events after surgery. I chose this project because of its potential to change current, national pre-operative testing and transfusion guidelines.

What is your favorite part about your research and why?

I feel a strong connection to orthopedic surgery research because my brother has cerebral palsy and watching the countless orthopedic surgeries, he went through inspires me to care for individuals with disabilities. This research allows me to focus on individuals with chronic, life-impacting conditions and explore the potential to improve the national platelet transfusion guidelines. This project is a method through which I can pursue my passion of improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, in addition to preventing avoidable complications of surgery.

What does it mean to receive the Kuckein Student Research Fellowship?

This grant validates my work and underscores the importance of my research. Additionally, it is extremely encouraging and motivating to be recognized for my research. This grant will help me pursue a field I am passionate in and hopefully make a real impact as a student.

Coming from a first-generation and low-income background, this grant provides me with the means to focus on my research instead of a part-time job. It also gives me funds to attend national meetings and connect with leaders in orthopedics. Getting the opportunity to network and expand my knowledge of research and academic medicine will help me tremendously in my career.

How has the Loyola culture impacted your research?

My project would not be possible without Dr. Nicholas Brown, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Michael Scheidt, an incoming first-year orthopedic surgery resident at Loyola Medicine. Dr. Brown embodies Loyola’s culture of altruism and selflessness by spending countless hours teaching me about medicine, surgery, and research. He is absolutely one of the best mentors I have ever had; he always finds time and tries to actively engage students while shadowing or doing research. I can only hope to one day cultivate the same type of passion that he has for his work and for teaching others.

My time at Loyola has allowed me to meet several extremely supportive mentors like Dr. Brown, even while being primarily online. It’s also allowed me to stay close to my brother who lives in Chicago; the time spent with him this past year has been invaluable.

Why did you choose Stritch?

I chose Stritch because of its amazing faculty and close-knit student body I met during my interview. The Loyola community is truly the most collaborative and supportive place I have had the privilege of being a part of. Stritch professors truly care about our learning experience and well-being and share all the values I would want from a mentor-physician.