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[June 19, 2009]

Two Downstate Faculty Promoted to Highest SUNY Rank:

Dr. Edmund Bourke and Dr. Carl I. Cohen Named SUNY Distinguished Professors for Teaching and Service


Two faculty physicians at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have been named distinguished professor, the highest academic rank within the State University of New York. Edmund Bourke, MD, has been named distinguished teaching professor, and Carl I. Cohen, MD, distinguished service professor.

“The rank of SUNY distinguished professor is reserved for faculty who have made major contributions to the State University and to their professions,” explains Dr. John C. LaRosa, MD, president of SUNY Downstate. “We are extremely proud of Dr. Cohen and Dr. Bourke for their achievements, which bring honor to themselves and to our institution.”

Throughout his 15-year tenure at SUNY Downstate, Dr. Bourke has been a role model to medical students and residents for his breadth of knowledge, clinical experience, and unusual ability to connect with patients and their families. His expertise in nephrology and investigations into the mechanisms of renal tubular phosphate transport and other findings have greatly influenced the direction of work in the field. Voted Teacher of the Year by graduating students, his lectures are often SRO. During his tenure as chairman of medicine, from 2003-2009, he greatly strengthened the department and especially its residency program, which now attracts the majority of its residents from US medical schools and among Downstate’s own graduates.

Dr. Cohen is director of geriatric psychiatry and one of the nation’s leading experts on the needs of older adults with schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness. He was one of the first in his profession to address the needs of mentally ill homeless people. At Downstate, he established one of the first geriatric psychiatry divisions in the country, the first psychiatry fellowship in New York City in treating older adults, and the Geriatric Psychiatry Clinical Center, a principal site for patient care, student education, and clinical research. He also founded the Brooklyn Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center, the first of its kind in the borough.


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 ninth 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.