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SUNY Downstate Medical Center


Public Health for a Global Community


Meet Our Students

SUNY Downstate SPH Student Spotlight


MD / MPH Program

Robin Brehm

Concentration in Epidemiology

What brought you to the field of public health?

I got bitten by the science bug early. (Ask my mother about how I insisted I couldn't get out of the bathtub as a little kid because "I'm not done evolving.") I did research in high school and as an undergraduate at Bard College – mostly on the NMDA receptor in zebrafish. I took two years off after graduating and worked at the Brooklyn VA, doing clinical and epidemiological research on lung disease.

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Doctor of Public Health candidate

Obinna Akano, MPH

Concentration in Epidemiology

  Doctoral student implements a vision-screening program in Nigeria.

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Natalie Octave, MPH

Concentration in Community HealthSciences

  Learn how the School of Public Health gave one student the skills and the confidence to advance from being a patient recruiter for clinical trials to an active researcher. 

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JoAnn DiLernia

Concentration in Community Health Science

What brought you to the field of Public Health and prompted you to pursue a Doctor of Public Health degree?

I became passionate about improving the health of women, which lead me to a BS in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health/Community Health Education and a second major in Women’s Studies with a focus on Gender, Sexuality, and Public Health. That’s when I fell in love with Public Health.

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Donell Harvin

Concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health Science

What brought you to the field of Public Health and prompted you to pursue a Doctor of Public Health degree?

I have worked in the health field for 20 years, starting out as a paramedic working in underserved communities, specifically Brooklyn and the immediate area around SUNY Downstate. I saw public health as a higher calling and a way to affect more lives and serve a greater population than just one patient at a time.

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Master of Public Health Program

Susan Law, MD, MPH

Concentration in Epidemiology

The rigor and quality of teaching in the MPH program at SUNY Downstate has helped me approach questions related to quality improvement, optimizing workflow and applying the findings of clinical trials with much more confidence and ease. My training prepared me to design and implement research to optimize our clinical approaches.

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Kimberly Huggins

Concentration in CommunityHealth Sciences

  HIV research with the School of Public Health and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

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Lisel Hope, MD

Concentration in Health Policy and Management

  Field experience at the School of Public Health leads one student to develop a non-profit to improve diabetes awareness in the Caribbean.

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George Koutsouras

Concentration in Epidemiology

What was your educational and work experience prior to enrolling in the MPH program at SUNY Downstate?

After high school in Queens, NY, I attended the New York Institute of Technology where I studied Biology. Following that, I received a Certificate in Global Health from NYIT's Center for Global Health. As part of the certificate program, I traveled to the country of Ghana, where I participated in qualitative research and received basic clinical training in a rural medical clinic.

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Here is what our students say
about the MD / MPH Program


Francesca Decker: "I'm doing the 4 year concurrent degree which is very challenging, but I'm also very excited about having it all done in four years. I think it's going to be a real benefit for residency."

Simon Fitzgerald: "I think that the MPH gives me the tools in which to be able to understand how to organize medical resources on a community level, especially for underserved communities."

Elisabeth Lessenich: "It's truly very easy to combine these two degrees at Downstate. The MPH advisors help you tailor the program and help you so you can combine classes and field work to get exactly what you want out of this."

Malini Persad: "I considered the combined MD/MPH Program as one of the most positive academic experiences I have had."

For more about the MD / MPH Program,
watch these video testimonials: