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[July 15, 2010]

Two Downstate Faculty Attain Highest Academic Rank:
Dr. Antonio Alfonso and Dr. Suzanne Mirra Named SUNY Distinguished Professors

Two faculty physicians at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have been named distinguished professor, the highest academic title within the State University of New York. Antonio E. Alfonso, MD, has been named distinguished teaching professor and Suzanne S. Mirra, MD, has been named distinguished service professor.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Alfonso and Dr. Mirra for bringing honor to themselves and to our institution,” said John C. LaRosa, MD, president of SUNY Downstate. “They are wonderful role models for our students, residents, and junior faculty and an inspiration to us all.”

Dr. Alfonso is professor and chair of surgery at SUNY Downstate and chair of surgery at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), where many of Downstate’s surgical residents train. During a career spanning more than 35 years, Dr. Alfonso has greatly strengthened the surgery departments at both venues. He has served as surgical residency program site director at LICH; as site coordinator for Downstate’s third-year student clerkship rotations at LICH; and as preceptor for the summer mentoring program, the elective fourth-year clerkship, and first-year elective introductory rotations for Downstate. In appreciation of his guidance, residents and fellows have presented him the Faculty Honoree Award in Surgery and the Golden Apple Faculty Award for Best Teacher. A clinician of national prominence, he has been listed in numerous "Best Doctor" publications. Among many leadership roles, he served as governor-at-large of the American College of Surgeons for more than a decade, and as president of the New York Surgical Society, the New York Cancer Society, and the New York Head and Neck Society. Dr. Alfonso continues to supervise independent research and to contribute scholarship that addresses major clinical issues in surgery.

Dr. Mirra, professor and chair of pathology at Downstate, has made major contributions to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder affecting millions in the U.S. and worldwide.  She helped characterize tau as the major constituent of neurofibrillary tangles, a microscopic hallmark of the disease, emphasized the overlap of Alzheimer’s with Parkinson’s disease, and helped standardize its neuropathological diagnosis.  The American Association of Neuropathologists honored her in 2005 with its Award for Meritorious Contributions to Neuropathology.  She served on the national board of the Alzheimer’s Association as well as on NIH study sections.  A graduate of SUNY Downstate, Dr. Mirra returned to campus in 1997 as chair of the Department of Pathology, the first woman in Downstate's 150-year history to be named a permanent department chair in the College of Medicine. At Downstate, Dr. Mirra expanded the medical center's research enterprise by securing NIH funding for Alzheimer's research, recruited young neuroscientists working on basic mechanisms of memory; chaired numerous campus committees; and headed a successful accreditation study for the College of Medicine.

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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 School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks eighth 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.

 

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