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[June 23, 2008]

The Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence to Award College Scholarships to Graduating High School Asthma Patients

Stanley Fisher, MD, professor and chair of pediatrics, The Children’s Hospital at Downstate, announced today that the Department of Pediatrics Asthma Center of Excellence will award college scholarships to Jurrell Rodgers and Kyron Galvez, graduating Brooklyn high school students who will be attending college in the fall. Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Galvez have been patients of the Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence for more than a decade.

The scholarship award presentation will take place on Friday, June 27, 2008, at 5:00 pm in the Morris Steiner Library, Pediatrics Department, SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The two scholarship recipients have demonstrated that young people with chronic diseases can still achieve academic excellence.

The Madu Rao Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence Scholarship Program was launched to help graduating high school students succeed in school and life, in spite of the chronic burden of asthma. The scholarship program is reserved for patients in the Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence.

In 1996, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics Madu Rao, MD, created a comprehensive pediatric asthma clinic where patients and their families could be evaluated, instructed in taking their medication and become better informed about what can trigger an asthma reaction. Dr. Haesoon Lee, director of the Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence, said, “We want to ensure that children with asthma receive excellent and consistent care. Our goal is to assist families with asthma to improve their quality of life through state-of-the art medical care.”

The college scholarship program is the brainchild of Dr. Rao, who said, “Asthma is one of the most prevalent childhood chronic illnesses in the United States and is overrepresented in children from urban areas. Children with asthma experience more absenteeism and grade failure than children without asthma. We realize the challenge that our asthmatic patients face as they control their asthma and complete their schoolwork. The scholarship program was developed to encourage our pediatric asthma patients to strive for academic excellence. We are extremely proud of Jurrell Rodgers and Kyron Galvez.”

"We feel that it is important to reward academic excellence,” says Dr. Fisher. Because skyrocketing academic costs are often a barrier for many students to pursue higher education, we are happy to make this scholarship program possible. We are proud of Jurell and Kyron’s academic success despite school absences, activity restriction and missed sleep.  Studies have shown significant associations between asthma and children’s school functioning. Jurrell and Kalvin are excellent examples of asthma patients who manage their asthma by being compliant, keeping their medical appointments, and taking their medications.”

The scholarship money was raised through bake sales organized by the staff of the Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence and the generous donation of Madu Rao, MD. Members of the scholarship committee include Gail Solomon, PA, Orintha Johsnon, RN, Deborah Pointer, MEd and Haesoon Lee, MD. For more information about the Asthma Center of Excellence, contact Haesoon Lee, MD, Director, Pediatric Asthma Center of Excellence, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, at 718-270-4247.

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The mission of the Children’s Hospital at Downstate and the Department of Pediatrics is to provide the highest quality compassionate healthcare to the community, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Each year over 1400 pediatric inpatients, 25,000 pediatric out patients and 15,000 pediatric emergency patients and 2500 asthma patients are seen by faculty pediatricians at SUNY Downstate.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a Graduate Public Health Program, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks seventh nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.