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25th Annual Sportsball

Sportsball Collage

This past Wednesday marked the 25th Anniversary of SportsBall, the Annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala benefiting the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health — and WOW, was it an event to remember.

Held at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown, Manhattan, this year’s festivities brought out some of the city’s most notable leaders in business, public office, entertainment, professional sports, philanthropy, and medicine—joining forces to commemorate the life and legacy of the late, famed tennis champion and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe, while pledging their commitment to alleviate health disparities in urban communities across the country.

Co-hosted by Ruschell Boone, Spectrum NY1, and Les Trent, Inside Edition, the evening was nothing short of an elegant affair, filled with merriment and jam-packed with fun activities for all in attendance.

Sportsball Collage

Following dinner, SportsBall 2019 honored Stan Smith, tennis legend and President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; Cheryl Wills, Spectrum NY1 and host of In Focus with Cheryl Wills; Guy Vickers, President of the PVH Foundation; and Downstate’s own, Sydney C. Butts, M.D., Vice Chair, Department of Otolaryngology.

The celebration continued with festive activities from games, to raffles, and finally a DJ who kept everyone in the room out of their seats and on the dance floor. 

See Fox 5’s coverage of the 2019 Sportsball for inside look!

But the evening wasn’t just about a good time—this was a milestone in a movement much bigger than one night. The Institute was founded by Arthur Ashe just months before he lost his battle to AIDS. It was his response to the disproportionate amount of illness and death in urban communities from preventable diseases.

Sportsball Collage 2

Arthur Ashe understood poor health education and insufficient health care delivery systems to be at the center of the epidemic and developed the organization and an approach that directly addresses these issues in urban communities. More than 26 years later, the Institute has reached 75,000 people through its programs and has raised over $3 million in support of improving urban health outcomes.

Bravo to the incredible team at the Arthur Ashe Institute, and a very special thanks to Marilyn Fraser, M.D., CEO of the Arthur Ashe Institute, and LeeAnn Hicks for pulling off another successful gala.

Sportsball Sydney Butts

College of Medicine


According to the US Census Bureau, by the year 2050, minorities will make up about 53% of the population. However, while the underrepresented ethnic groups of today will soon become tomorrow’s majority, they will remain underrepresented within the physician workforce unless strategic efforts towards diversity are made to keep pace with that of the population.

Bridge Collage 1

From left to right, BRIDGES students - College of Medicine class of 2022:
Jose Sinon, David Mandil, Takisha Morancy, Marioghae Otuada, Chinelo DeBrady, Michael Huaman

As a direct response to this impending reality, I developed the BRIDGES to Medicine Program (BRIDGES)—designed to provide a new access point into medicine for students from minority groups and low socioeconomic backgrounds seeking admission into our College of Medicine.  

The program is structured to allow participating BRIDGES students opportunities to take some of the same courses, in a co-mingled setting, as first-year College of Medicine students. Students are also provided a monthly stipend and housing to offset any hardships that may impede their achievement in the program. Upon successful completion, students are granted admission into Downstate’s College of Medicine as first-year students. 

To date, the BRIDGES Program has exceeded expectations and the performance of participating students has proven that this pilot is highly effective. Of the 16 students from the inaugural BRIDGES cohort, 14 successfully matriculated into the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate. An astounding 88% success rate with the first gifted group of students.


When speaking to a few BRIDGES Alumni who moved on to become students in the College of Medicine about why they chose to be in the program, here’s what was shared:

“While I am on this planet, I want to make my contribution, so for me, being a physician was the ultimate way of being of service to others. BRIDGES was an invaluable experience that gave me the confidence necessary to approach medical school. The time management and studying skills provided were priceless. I also wouldn’t trade the connections that I built with my BRIDGES family that year for anything. We look out for each other and check up on each other. Our bond is cemented, we are a family.”  
Chinelo DeBrady, second-year medical student


“I was starting to feel like maybe I didn’t belong in the Medical field. If all these admission boards are telling me I don’t belong, maybe they’re right—so, I decided to get a job helping people get on Medicaid. Then I received a call from the Associate Dean of the Office of Diversity Education and Research who told me about BRIDGES and asked if I was interested. I cried tears of joy knowing that there was someone out there who looked at my application and thought that I belonged. This was everything I prayed for – a chance. Someone to tell me that all those other people were wrong! That I did belong!” 
David Mandil, second-year medical student


"We know what it was like going through the program and we wanted to be a resource to new students coming into BRIDGES.  It was really important for us as alum of the program to develop a mentorship opportunity for the new class as a way to expand our relationships beyond our BRIDGES cohort-- and to let them know, we've been there, we did it... and you can, too."
Marioghae Otuadasecond-year medical student

Across the board, students in the program have been a tremendous asset to the Downstate community. Some have been recipients of prestigious awards and accolades, like Jose Sinon, a second-year student who was recently chosen as one of the recipients of the National Medical Fellowships’ 2019 Dr. David Kearney McDonough Scholarship. While others have gone on to be stewards in the community, like Takisha Morancy, a current second-year student who developed a medical school shadowing program for local high school students called “A Day in the Life,” and Michael Huaman, who is the co-President of the Latino Medical Student Association and working to raise awareness about health disparities that impact Latino communities. 

I’d like to extend my gratitude to all the faculty and staff who have contributed to the success of BRIDGES, including Jeffrey Putman, Ed.D. in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs; Jeanne Macrae, M.D., Schnell Lafortune in the College of Medicine’s Office of Academic Affairs; Shemeika Bowman, Anika Daniels-Osaze, Ed.D., Carla Boutin-Foster, M.D., MS, Tina Adjei-Bosompem, and Runako Gulstone in the Office of Diversity Education and Research; Dr. Shushawna DeOliveira, Ph.D., Anthony Joseph, M.D., Lorraine Terracina, P.hD., and Dr. Marcia Gerber, M.D., in the Office of Admissions; and Seth Langley,Ph.D., Cheryl Corn, Gerard Robertson, and Susan Kane in the Office of Academic Support Services and Advisement.

College of Nursing

Narcan Training

Opioid overdose and deaths are one of the most urgent public health threats facing cities and communities throughout the country. Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in the US and overdose rates are climbing among men and women of all ages and races. The opioid epidemic is a cross-cutting national problem—on average, 130 Americans suffer a fatal opioid overdose everyday with more than 72,000 annual deaths in 2018.


With the opioid crisis showing little indication of waning progression, experts are pointing to Narcan as a method to immediately manage the crisis and ultimately combat the epidemic long-term—prompting Downstate’s College of Nursing to step into instant action. 

Last week, 45 Accelerated B.S. nursing students gathered together as Downstate’s College of Nursing hosted a training to understand more about Narcan, its ability to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and how to administer the drug. The training was designed in direct response to the growing need for education and awareness around opioid safety and concluded with all 45 nursing students earning their certification.


I’d like to extend my gratitude to the participating students, faculty, and staff in the College of Nursing for continuing to equip themselves with the tools and expertise necessary to heal the communities we serve, and send a special thank you to Downstate’s Student Nurse Association (DSNA), Professor Lauren Ellis, College of Nursing, and the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene for their timely coordination of the training.

School of Public Health

Advancing Maternal Health in Brooklyn

As many of you are aware, Black women in the United States experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth. Both societal and health system factors contribute to poor health outcomes and maternal mortality for Black women, who are more likely to experience barriers to obtaining quality care and often face discrimination while seeking treatment.

Aimee Afable

Over the past year, Aimee Afable, Ph.D., MPH, Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, partnered with the Brooklyn Perinatal Network (BPN) on several advocacy and fundraising efforts that directly address the growing disparity between Black and White maternal health outcomes.

Earlier this summer, Dr. Afable collaborated with BPN through an invited proposal submission to Mother Cabrini Foundation. The proposal presented the creation and implementation of an evidence-based “community healthcare delivery system” as the solution to the historic racial disparity in maternal health in Central Brooklyn. The project expands the healthcare model beyond the biomedical model to include socioeconomic contributing factors and informs the creation of a delivery system that leverages community assets by enhancing both health care and social services —a shift that will allow healthcare providers to address the needs of the most vulnerable, hard to reach populations who face significant barriers to reproductive healthcare. 

To further advance maternal health outcomes here in Brooklyn, Dr. Afable is also collaborating with BPN on the evaluation of the Healthy Women, Healthy Futures (HWHF) project, which is a partnership with University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB). HWHF will work with UHB clinical leadership to rollout a doula program that targets socially and medically high-risk pregnant women to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. And finally, Dr. Afable is currently working with BPN on the design and conceptualization of the Brooklyn Immigrant Health Study—a pilot study that will inform the first analysis that examines the influence of US assimilation on perinatal outcomes in a foreign-born black maternal population. An exceptional opportunity to address the controversy over the relative contributions of biology versus social context to ethnic disparities in maternal health!

Many thanks to Dr. Afable, for working so diligently to uphold and incorporate Downstate’s mission into her daily work—bringing us one step closer to equitable healthcare for all.


Center for Healthcare Simulation

Healthcare Simulation Week


Healthcare Simulation Week celebrates the global practice of using simulation to improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of healthcare delivery—leading providers to safer, more knowledgeable patient care. 

In late September, students from across all five schools along with the Center for Healthcare Simulation (CHS) joined the global simulation community to improve the safety, effectiveness, and quality of healthcare services at the University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) by sponsoring a SIMathon. Following the SIMathon, Andrew White, a student in the College of Medicine, was honored for his ongoing efforts to raise the bar on Downstate’s simulation efforts.

After developing a passion for healthcare simulation while working at the New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences, Andrew joined Downstate’s CHS Steering Committee, and later went on to become the founder and former president of the Student Simulation Committee (SSC)—an interprofessional group of students who host simulation events and act as the liaison between the CHS leadership team and the student body. 

Healthsim Collage

Under Andrew’s leadership, the SSC has hosted two SIMathons attended by more than 40 students from the School of Health Professions, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and School of Public Health. The SSC is now running these events biannually and plans to partner with student clubs to co-host future simulation events. Additionally, the SSC conducted a student survey regarding their simulation needs. The data has helped to inform the future direction of simulation at Downstate. 

Many thanks to the founding SSC leadership team—Andrew White, President, Eugenie Lehembre-Shiah, Vice-president, and Nick Harris, Treasurer—for their vision and for taking the initiative to enhance Downstate’s Simulation efforts. I’d also like to congratulate the new SSC leadership team—Bethel Ozed-Williams, President, Alice Herchek, Vice-President, and Angeleque Hartt, Treasurer.

University Hospital of Brooklyn

Brooklyn Diabetes Club

Brooklyn Diabetes Club

Adult or Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing chronic diseases internationally, as well as here in our local Brooklyn community. The number of people with Type 2 diabetes has risen so much, the issue has grown into an epidemic.

While the disease is serious and chronic, the health complications associated with Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, delayed, or improved via early diagnosis and effective management. Knowing how important the role played by primary care physicians (PCP) can be in the successful management of diabetes, Linda Cohen RN, MSN, MPH, BC-ADM, CDE and Betty Jung, RN kicked off the fall season by coordinating the Brooklyn Diabetes Club meeting—aiming to improve diabetes management around the local Downstate community.

Claire Dufour, BS, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, Department of Pharmacy, presented on “Diabetes Medication Management” and engaged club members with an interactive discussion about the various types of diabetes medications—oral and injectable—prescribed by their PCP according to the type of diabetes the patient has; determining which medications they should be taking; and helping them understand how their medications work.

Ms. Dufour later went on to discuss medication side effects, as well as when and how the medication can be administered effectively and safely.  And finally, she discussed the proper disposal of unused medications, proper storage to maintain peak effectiveness, and medication safety.

Brooklyn Diabetes Club

These are the types of seminars and workshops the communities we serve need most—engaging patients to reinforce proper diabetes management skills—reducing the risk of added complications from the disease. Many thanks to Betty Jung, Linda Cohen and Claire Dufour for leading the charge and a special acknowledgment to Daniel Sershen (College of Nursing) for his assistance setting-up the space and helping with registration. 



New Faculty

Linda Cimino, College of Nursing

Linda Cimino

It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Linda Cimino, NP, EDD who joins Downstate as the new Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Nursing

Dr. Cimino is a certified Nurse Practitioner in Child and Adult Health, Kirkpatrick Certified Professional-Bronze Level, and Certified Simulation Educator— specializing in education leadership, administration and technology.

In addition to her recent faculty appointment in Downstate’s College of Nursing, she holds joint appointments in SUNY Stony Brook University’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Technology and Management, and Pharmacological Sciences.

Dr. Cimino has also authored numerous manuscripts and abstracts, has served as principal investigator on several academic studies and pharmaceutical grants, and was a member the inaugural editorial board for the Journal of Simulation in Healthcare.

A founding member of the interprofessional education team that conceptualized, developed, and deployed SUNY Stony Brook’s In-situ Mock Code Blue Model as a hospital-wide CQI initiative—Dr. Cimino currently serves as the co-developer of the Asthma Trigger House and Asthma Education Module in conjunction with the Asthma Coalition of Long Island.

As a patient safety advocate, Dr. Cimino has proven ability to uncover and provide solutions for latent patient safety threats that stem from systems issues and human factors. Her areas of expertise include: assessment of learning styles and instructional design to accommodate a wide variety of learners in a wide variety of learning forums, simulation scenario design, evaluation and validation, learner and program assessment, and evaluation and patient safety through education.

Please join me in sending a very warm, Downstate Welcome to Dr. Cimino!


Research Roundup

Sam Marquez, PhD— Neanderthal Study

Neanderthal StudyIn breaking research news, Downstate Associate Professor Samuel Márquez, Ph.D., colleagues from the Hackensack Meridian, and the Ichan School of Medicine may have answered the age-old riddle of what led to the demise of the Neanderthals. Rather than some sort of cataclysmic event, but rather the most common and innocuous of childhood illnesses—and the bane of every parent of young children – chronic ear infections.

Published in The Anatomical Record, the study revealed that eustachian tubes of Neanderthals are nearly identical to those of a human infant, which are susceptible to infections because the flat angle retains otitis media. In human babies, this angle changes around age 5, but not in the Neanderthals. With no antibiotics, Dr. Marquez and his fellow researchers postulate that chronic infections would lead to respiratory infections, hearing loss, pneumonia, perhaps even death, and certainly would have made Neanderthals less competitive with Homo sapiens.

MSN Amaze Lab: Did ear infections wipe out the Neanderthals?

Many thanks to Dr. Márquez and the incredible team of researches for their great contributions to science and unearthing new perspectives about our origins, and a very special thank you to Leah Samouha, a student in the Physician’s Assistant program in the School of Health Professions, for bringing this research to life with her published, and now famous, illustration.

Great work!

In the Community

Bahama Hurricane Relief Efforts

Dorian Relief

In early September, Hurricane Dorian decimated the Bahamas with destructive winds, hammering rain, and persistent flooding. When it was all over, more than 10,000 homes were wiped out.

To say that the island and its people need our help, would be a gross understatement.

In support of ongoing Bahamian relief efforts, Michael Harrel in the Office of Government & Constituent Relations (GCR), in partnership with the Daniel Hale Williams Society and the College of Medicine have organized a two-month long “Downstate Health Sciences University Hurricane Relief Drive.

The drive was kicked-off on October 1st and will remain in operation through Friday, November 29th— I’d like to encourage every member of the Downstate community to donate what you can, when you can, and as much as you can from the list below.

Downstate is collecting the following items:

  • First Aid Kits
  • Mosquito Repellent (bands, soaps and cremes)
  • Flashlights
  • Diapers (assorted sizes)
  • Baby wipes
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Tissue Paper (sealed in plastic)
  • Paper towel (sealed in plastic)
  • Vaseline
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Wet Wipes and Towelettes
  • Large Plastic bags (boxed)
  • Sheet sets
  • Non-Electronic Can openers

(We are unable to accept canned goods, food, clothing, or aerosol products) 

Collection containers will be located at 395 Lenox Rd. (Lobby), 450 Clarkson Avenue (Lobby), 445 Lenox Rd. (Hospital Lobby), Downstate Student Center (near Security Desk), and the Downstate Cafeteria (near cashiers).

Monetary donations can be made to organizations recognized by the Bahamian Consulate.

Thank you all in advance for your humanity and generosity.




President's Bulletin
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
450 Clarkson Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11203