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[April 18, 2008]

Performing Artists Join in Celebrating Downstate:

June 14 Gala to Benefit Medical Research

Hip-hop giant LL Cool J and actor Steven R. Schirripa, best known for his role on the “Sopranos,” have joined the growing list of celebrities attending the Celebrate Downstate Gala on June 14. Some of the biggest names in journalism, medicine, and the creative arts will be on hand to celebrate SUNY Downstate’s proud history of achievement. 

Hosted by WNBC news anchor Lynda Baquero, the gala will honor television personality Larry King,” Ray Suarez, writer and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” and legendary journalists/TV producers Joseph and Shirley Wershba.

Downstate College of medicine alumnus Dr. Max Harry Weil, co-founder of the Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine, and acclaimed historian Robert C. Dallek also will be among the honorees. New York State Senator Martin J. Golden is a special guest. All proceeds from the gala, which will take place at the elegant Vanderbilt at South Beach, Staten Island, will benefit medical research initiatives.

Celebrate Downstate is bringing together top medical authorities and researchers in their fields, along with distinguished business and community leaders, for an elegant evening of recognition and celebration. It is the first in a series of annual events to highlight the medical center’s leading role in education, science, and patient care.

Proceeds from the gala fundraiser will help advance basic and clinical research at Downstate, birthplace of some of the major breakthroughs in modern medicine. The first full-body human images using MRI were made at Downstate, and nitric oxide’s role as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system was discovered in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Furchgott, winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine. Dr. Furchgott’s work has paved the way for new treatments to improve cardiovascular and reproductive health. 

Douglas Lazzaro, MD, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and event chairman for Celebrate Downstate, is confident that this level of success can be sustained and even exceeded. “Recognized for its contributions to medical science in the last century, Downstate is one of today’s leaders in neuroscience and biotechnology,” he says. “Additional funding will advance all of our outstanding ongoing research, help us unravel the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, and find new treatments for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, macular degeneration and other serious illnesses.”