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[April 25, 2008]

The Best and the Brightest:

Two Downstate Students Earn SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

Two students from Downstate Medical Center, one from the College of Medicine and the other from the College of Health Related Professions, were among the select group chosen to receive this year’s SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. The highest student honor bestowed by the State University of New York, the award is a hallmark of academic excellence, combined with leadership, community service, or other achievements.

Paul Rava, who will graduate in May with an MD/PhD degree, and Maria Freytsis, CNM, MPH, who graduated in August 2007, were among those honored by interim SUNY Chancellor John B. Clark at a celebration in Albany earlier this month.

Paul Rava was recognized for outstanding research and scholarly achievements. His thesis research—published in four peer-reviewed, first-authored original papers, two co-authored papers, and three invited review articles—examines the evolution of different lipid transfer activities of MTP (microsomal triglyceride transfer protein) and their role in apoB-lipoprotein and CD1d biosynthesis. Considered the outstanding thesis of the year, it earned him the 2007 Robert F. Furchgott Award for Research Excellence, named after the professor emeritus at Downstate who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1998.

Maria Freytsis already had an impressive resume before entering the Midwifery Program. In addition to providing training and health services to women in China, Antigua, Guatemala, and Kosovo, she is co-founder and board president of Friends of the Birth Center, a grassroots organization formed after the only birthing center in Manhattan closed in 2003. While enrolled at Downstate, she continued to volunteer as a public health worker, helping villagers in Indonesia affected by the tsunami. An excellent student, she pioneered a new clinical site for the Midwifery Program at the Developing Families Birth Center in Washington, DC, to provide quality care for underserved patients.

Each year, schools within the State University system are encouraged to submit nominations for the Chancellor’s Award. SUNY Downstate was permitted two, based on its student enrollment. Students graduating between June 2007 and May 2008 were considered for the award.