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Mark your calendars, the bulletin is now coming to you twice a month on Mondays... Don't miss out!

UN Visits for Downstate Leadership

Kitaw Demisse

Since 1945, dignitaries from 193 Member States around the world have convened together for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting to discuss and make recommendations on the political, economic, humanitarian, social, and legal world-issues of our time for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

This past week, at the invitation of her excellency (H.E.) Penelope Beckles, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), I was privileged and honored to get a diplomat’s eye-view of the annual UNGA gathering following my meeting with her excellency at the T&T Permanent Mission to the UN in Manhattan.

Riley on The Road

Accompanied by Kitaw Demissie, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of the School of Public Health, we discussed the importance of the T&T diaspora (both broadly and to Downstate specifically), the current state of public health in T&T, the UN’s Sustainability Goals as it relates to health, and a number of potential clinical and academic partnerships that can be formed between the T&T government and our institution.

These discussions were follow-up from her tour at Downstate where our conversation initially began—and where we both agreed it would not end. Ambassador Beckles and I spoke at length about the unique relationship Downstate has with T&T, as well as the broader Caribbean community. Not only are many of our students, faculty, physicians, residents, researchers, and staff from T&T, but the immediate community we serve here in Brooklyn is home to one of the largest T&T communities outside the island. With that understanding, our recent meeting marked the first of many to come.

UN Kitaw Demisse

Following our official meeting, Ambassador Beckles, accompanied by her Liaison Officer, Lenox Jones, was kind enough to give us a tour of the UNGA. As part of the tour, we were also shown the Trusteeship Council Chamber and the Economic and Social Council Chamber where I was even given special access to sit in the Security Council Chamber during a live session!

One pretty cool fact to note—although it’s located right here in the heart of NYC, the land occupied by UN Headquarters is, in fact, under the sole administration of the United Nations and not the U.S. government. Technically speaking, Dr. Demissie and I crossed international borders for a meeting and returned stateside in a few hours’ time!

Many thanks to H.E. Penelope Beckles for making time ahead of the busy activities of UNGA and to Lenox Jones for coordinating the visit and tour. I look forward to future collaborations and the opportunity to improve the health of this community, domestically and abroad.

52nd Annual West Indian American Carnival Parade

Carnival 2019

Brooklyn’s biggest street-party came and went earlier this month—and while the 52nd Annual West Indian American Carnival Parade was initially met with inclement weather, the event turned out to be a splash with Downstate on hand to ensure that!
As many of you are aware, Downstate has a very special relationship with the Caribbean-American community. Not only does Downstate employ a large number of students, faculty, and staff of Caribbean decent, they are also fully integrated into the local community—making our institutional rapport with them critical to our competency as health care clinicians, and public health professionals.
To that end, it is important for patients we serve to connect with us in the community. As healthcare providers, our accessibility and relatability all translate into deep, entrusted-bonds with the patients we treat, and ultimately, enhanced care with improved health outcomes. That’s why every year, Downstate partners with WIADCA for New York City's annual Carnival festivities in celebration of Caribbean history, culture, music, food, and the people we are so fortunate to serve right here in Brooklyn.

Carnival 2019 Group photos

Eastern Parkway was filled with feathered outfits, calypso beats, and the scent of Caribbean Cuisine on Labor Day, while a team of more than 50 from Downstate gathered (on our very own Downstate float) to march down the miles-long procession, reminding every New York City resident, “We CARE, so you can Carnival.” 
I’d like to extend my gratitude to all the students, faculty, and staff who participated with special thanks to Michael Harrell, Jelanie DeShong, and Althea Dinham in the Office of Government and Constituent Relations for their seamless coordination of this event. Thanks also to Robert Cadet in Audio Visual, Officers Andre Sterling, Aleksandr Dekhtyar, and Solomon Appiah from University Police for their support.

Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health

Sportsball 2019

For the past quarter century, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (the Institute) has hosted its annual marquis event, SportsBall—a celebration with the specific purpose of advancing the health outcomes of urban communities, similar to Downstate’s, around the country.

Founded just two months before AIDS claimed his life in 1992, Arthur Ashe founded the Institute as a direct response to the disproportionate amount of illness and death in urban communities from preventable diseases—diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, that Ashe knew were the result of inadequate health care delivery systems, late detection, and insufficient health education.

To further drive the Institute’s mission, the annual event, Sportsball, was born— designed to raise funds in support the Institute’s innovative community health education programs and research initiatives, while honoring the legacy of Arthur Ashe and the individuals and organizations that continue to make significant contributions to urban communities in the areas of health, education, medical research, community service, and philanthropy. 

This Wednesday, October 2nd, marks Sportsball’s 25th Anniversary, a milestone event honoring some of the city’s most prominent leaders from the world of sports, philanthropy, business, entertainment, and medicine including Downstate’s own Sydney C. Butts, MD FACS, chief of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at University Hospital of Brooklyn/SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital Center; Stan Smith, tennis legend, winner of the U.S. Open in 1971 and Wimbledon in 1972, and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; Guy Vickers, President of the PVH Foundation; and Cheryl Wills, Emmy-winning anchor for Spectrum NY1 Live at Ten, and host of In Focus with Cheryl Wills.

The Sportsball brings together these honorees and other prominent leaders in the name of urban health equity—and I am hopeful the Downstate community will join me in showing that same unified support.

As many of you know, it is my belief that our responsibilities as health and healthcare professionals should not end in the classroom, in a lab, or in the operating room. It’s important each of us understand while we cannot treat every patient in office—our wisdom, beliefs and philanthropy still have the power reach and heal the masses.  Every healthcare professional, especially those within the Downstate community, should feel a sense of responsibility to stretch their virtues, expert knowledge, and service beyond their practice to improve health outcomes locally and globally; ultimately fulfilling their Hippocratic oath while actively supporting Downstate’s mission.

And so, I invite each of you to join me in supporting and attending the 2019 Sportsball—helping to build a bridge to equitable healthcare for all.

To find out how you can attend, please click here.

Faculty Book Release

Nocturia by Jeffrey P. Weiss M.D., FACS

Jeffrey WeissJoin me in congratulating Jeffrey Weiss, M.D., FACS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology in the College of Medicine, on the release of his latest book, Nocturia: Etiology, Pathology, Risk Factors, Treatment and Emerging Therapies.
Nocturia, or nocturnal polyuria, is the medical term for the condition of excessive nightly urination—which, for those affected, creates sleep disturbances that have been shown to impair functioning, quality of life, overall health, and productivity. Although the condition has been associated with aging populations (it becomes more common as people get older), Nocturia affects some 50 million Americans—approximately 20% of which are between the ages of 20-29.


In his book, Dr. Weiss and his co-author, King Lee, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor at Quinnipiac University, explore the high prevalence of nocturia as a “normal part of aging,” articulate the science behind the disease to better understand and isolate the life-threatening effects resulting from the condition, and finally illustrates the triggers of nocturia to better understand how to effectively address them.

In addition to his most recent release, Dr. Weiss is the primary author of more than 300 peer reviewed scientific articles, abstracts, book chapters, and co-author of four urological textbooks. Beyond his role at Downstate, Dr. Weiss serves as Chief of Urology at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System. He is a member of the International Continence Society, the Society for Urodynamics and Female Urology, and the Society of University Urologists. Dr. Weiss has been Governor for the American College of Surgeons for the NYC area and District II representative board member to the NY Section of the American Urological Association. He is currently engaged in research regarding the cause and treatment of nocturia, overactive bladder, and prostate cancer.
Congratulations again, Dr. Weiss. Thank you for your continued contributions to academia, science, and to Downstate. 



Patricia Gil, M.D., FACOG, FPMRS

Dr. Patricia GilI am delighted to welcome Patricia Gil, M.D., to SUNY Downstate’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
A New York City native hailing from Astoria, Queens, Dr. Gil is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and fellowship-trained urogynecologist specializing in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
After earning her Medical Doctorate from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, she completed a four-year residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Stony Brook University Hospital. Following her time at Stony Brook, she then finished a three-year fellowship in Urogynecology & Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery through Mount Auburn Hospital/Boston Urogynecology Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she was on staff at Harvard Medical School.
Following her studies, Dr. Gil joined Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center as Assistant Professor and Site Director of Urogynecology. She later went on to become Division Director of Urogynecology at New York Presbyterian in Flushing, Queens. Finally, in November of 2018, following a brief stint in private practice, she joined the Downstate community as Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine.
Having practiced medicine for more than a decade at a number of prestigious healthcare systems and institutions, Dr. Gil now officially joins the Obstetrics & Gynecology Practice at Downstate’s University Hospital where she specializes in advanced laparoscopic surgeries that treat pelvic floor conditions, in addition to minimally-invasive therapeutic options. 
Dr. Gil’s clinical interests include a variety of pelvic floor disorders, including: pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, urinary tract and rectal fistulas, fecal incontinence, urethral diverticula, problems related to prior mesh procedures, and Urinary retention.
Please join me in sending a warm Downstate welcome to Dr. Gil!


Ms. Ericka Boucard

Ericka BoucardIn this week’s Bulletin, I’d like to applaud one of our star students on campus— Ericka Boucard in the newly renamed, School of Health Professions (SOHP). Upon her arrival on campus, Ms. Boucard wasted no time getting down to business—taking advantage of every opportunity for advancement offered at Downstate. Already an SOHP alumna from the Diagnostic Medical Imaging (DMI) program, she is now pursuing her second advanced degree at Downstate—a Master of Science in Medical Informatics and is considering the doctorate in Public Health as her next Downstate degree.

If her work inside the classroom doesn’t move you, her equally impressive contributions to SOHP and the community beyond the lecture halls, will. Born to lead, Ms. Boucard has held and currently holds several important positions within the SOHP, all while maintaining a full course load! In years past, she served as Student Assembly Representative and former class Vice-President for the DMI program. Ms. Boucard also holds four leadership roles that include: President of her class in the Medical Informatics program, Coordinator of the America Reads program at Kings County Hospital, Student Manager at the Downstate Student Center, and is a member of the Downstate Christian Fellowship.

Beyond her work on campus, Ms. Boucard has selflessly devoted the little spare she has to volunteerism at the Brooklyn Free Clinic, Kings County, Woodhull Hospitals, and at the local homeless shelters.

It is evident from her record, from the high praise of Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC, Dean and Professor in the School of Health Professions, and the comments her peers and professors have shared, that Ms. Boucard is passionate, driven, generous, intelligent, and can execute projects brilliantly. She is not only lauded as one of SOHP’s top students, she is a star!  Thank you for your dedication and unflagging commitment to your educational pursuits, to your professional dreams, and to Downstate.



Rosh Hashanah 

Sundown on Sunday, September 29th, marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana—the two-day holiday celebrating the Jewish new year and the start of the 10 High Holy Days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

During the two days of Rosh Hashana, observers commemorate God’s creation of humanity. It is a time for introspection and prayer and to spend time with friends and family. Among the traditional food items served at this time is apple with honey — symbolizing a wish for a sweet new year.

As celebrations across New York City usher in the year 5780 on the Hebrew calendar— we here at Downstate would like to wish everyone celebrating the Holiday a very blessed and prosperous New year!



Schedule Change Announcement

ATTENTION: effective Monday, October 7th, the President’s Bulletin goes from weekly to bi-weekly publication!

To bring all of you the consistently relevant, quality Downstate News you deserve—and so that we don’t miss an opportunity to communicate critical information to our key audiences—we’re reorganizing our Bulletin process so that we can share the institutional news you’ll value most!




President's Bulletin
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
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