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Downstate Awarded $500K Grant to Expand Biotech Research Space at BioBAT

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I’m pleased to report that Downstate has been awarded a generous $500K capital fund grant from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams to expand our existing BioBAT—a joint partnership focused on advancing biotechnology initiatives throughout the City and State. The partnership was created by the Research Foundation for The State University of New York, on behalf of Downstate, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to include a newly developed contemporary and expansive biotech research and manufacturing space. These funds will provide a pathway for BioBAT to develop additional space to house new science and medical research companies within its growing portfolio.

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A 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, BioBAT serves as a scientific research, exploration, and manufacturing hub located in the heart of Brooklyn at the New York Sciences and Technology Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The certified business incubator offers tax-free, cost-effective rental laboratory and office space to biotech firms.

BioBAT is being built in phases—Phase 1 brought in the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), AlgiKnit, Biotia, Calder Biosciences, Chemitope Glycopeptide and Fork & Goode. In Phase 2, Brooklyn ImmunoTherapeutics expanded and built a GMP manufacturing facility for cancer drugs, and most recently, BioBAT completed new lab and office space which is rented by Regenlab USA and Cortecnet. 

When all phases are complete, BioBAT's tenant companies will generate over 500 jobs. To provide the workforce for these new companies and to prepare students for the requirements of the biotechnology industry, Downstate has helped implement STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematic) programs for children and job-training programs for undergraduate and graduate students. One example includes the Next Milestone Program, an entrepreneurship program for BioBAT companies, managed by Mary Howard of designtechnologies, from which Downstate students have formed their own Entrepreneurship Club. 

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Of the 41 companies hosted at the incubator and BioBAT, 24 are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY program—ranking second in the state for the most New York-founded startup companies. Over the last year, BioBAT companies have collectively raised $329M, created and retained 238 jobs, and received or filed 22 patents.

Downstate’s founding and development of the Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT demonstrates a commitment to our mission of growing and transforming our institution into a state-of-the-art research enterprise, and to advancing the progressive development of science and technology that will contribute to the economic engine that drives advancements throughout the Brooklyn Borough.

On behalf of Downstate and University Hospital of Brooklyn, I’d like to extend my deep gratitude to Borough President Adams for his unwavering support and commitment to Downstate, its growth, and its continued success. I’d also like to add a very special thank you to BioBAT President Eva Cramer, Ph.D., for her noteworthy leadership and commitment through several critical growth phases.

For more information about BioBAT, CLICK HERE.

College of Medicine

COM Students Establish Official ACLM Chapter of Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group

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In exciting news, I am proud to share that a group of students in the College of Medicine, led by Lora Stoianova, MS2, established a Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group (LMIG) this past summer, as an official chapter of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM).  

ACLM is an association for medical professionals that provides invaluable education and certification to clinicians who are dedicated to the practice of Lifestyle Medicine and see it as the critical underpinning to a progressive and viable health care system.



Through the development and promotion of educational events, tools, resources, and campaigns designed to further the cause of Lifestyle Medicine, ACLM supports its members in their individual practices and in their collective desire to domestically and globally promote Lifestyle Medicine as the first treatment option instead of pills and procedures. 


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The Downstate LMIG is one of about 30 at U.S. medical schools and the only one in the New York Metropolitan area. The group engages students in lifestyle medicine, which is defined by ACLM as “the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease.” The LMIG functions with support of our SUNY Downstate Committee on Plant-based Health & Nutrition and the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Our new chapter, which has already sponsored several events, just received the Mobilizer Award at the ACLM annual meeting, for making a large impact within an academic establishment and the local community. In addition, Ms. Stoianova was individually recognized with a Donald Anderson Pegg Student Leadership Award, in recognition of her outstanding guidance and stewardship throughout the establishment and operation of Downstate’s LGIM chapter.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ms. Stoianova on this fantastic accomplishment and many thanks to all participating COM students for working to make the LGIM a successful reality on Downstate’s campus. I’d also like to thank Richard M. Rosenfeld, M.D., MPH, MBA, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology, and Chair for the Committee on Plant-based Health & Nutrition, for serving as Faculty Advisor for the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group.

College of Nursing

Dr. Annie Rohan Publishes in JAANP!

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I am thrilled to announce that Annie Rohan, Ph.D., RN, FAANP, FAAN, Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs and Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program for the College of Nursing (CON), was recently published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP)!

The study, "Developing Advanced Practice Nurse Writing Competencies as a Corequisite for Evidence-based Practice," investigates writing competency as a critical skillset. Previously published literature has identified writing competency as an essential facet of APN evidence-based practice skills, such as “formulating evidence-based policies and procedures,” and “communicates best evidence.” 

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Dr. Rohan’s study developed a quality improvement project for APN’s within a post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, with the goal of establishing affordable, yet highly effective strategies that could later be implemented into existing programs of study to improve APN writing competencies. Her study builds on prior literature aimed at developing a measurable assessment for a “peer-supported writing intervention” for APNs. Dr. Rohan’s study concluded that curriculum enhancement for assisting APNs enrolled in a DNP program of study was linked to enhanced proficiency in written communication. 

Dr. Rohan is a SUNY alumna. She earned her BS in Nursing from SUNY Binghamton and later earned a certificate in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at Cornell University Medical College Continuing Education Program for Nurses, an MS degree from Columbia University, and a Post-Graduate certificate in Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner from Stony Brook University. Midway through advanced practice, Dr. Rohan returned to Columbia University where she earned the Ph.D. and was selected to become a member of the first national cohort of Jonas Nursing Scholars.

photo of Annie Rohan

Dr. Rohan's more than 25-year clinical career notably supports her academic priorities, which includes work as a national advisor to the American Nurses Association (Nurse Practice Advisory Council) and to the March of Dimes (Nurse Advisory Committee). 

Dr. Rohan has received several awards recognizing her clinical and scientific contributions. Her educational research focuses on developing writing skills in graduate nursing students and using technology to enhance teaching and learning. Her interdisciplinary clinical research focuses on using technology to address persistent issues impacting pediatric health.

CONGRATULATIONS, Dr. Rohan! Many thanks for your significant contributions to nursing literature. Your work continues to advance our progressive research mission at Downstate, while elevating the profile of both Downstate and the College of Nursing.


School of Public Health

SPH’s DrPH and MPH Programs Ranked #11 by MPHonline.org!

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Each year, MPHonline.org releases its annual “25 Best Doctor of Public Health Degrees” and “15 Best MPH Programs in New York” rankings, to identify schools and programs renowned or high-performing across a number of key higher education data points. For the 2020 cycle, MPHonline.org developed its list by zeroing in on accredited, respected institutions with a documented reputation of distinction. 

I'm very pleased to share that Downstate’s School of Public Health (SPH) has been included in this year’s rankings. After data was collected from all regional schools with accreditation in New York, as well as more than 180 institutions nationally, SPH was ranked #11 in both the “25 Best Doctor of Public Health Degrees” and “15 Best MPH Programs in New York” categories. Considering less than 12 percent of the accredited institutions were qualified to be considered in the above rankings—this is quite an impressive honor.


To provide a comprehensive and accurate score and rank, each eligible school and program was assessed on four criteria points:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Rigor of curriculum
  • Salary Potential (using data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche) 

Congratulations and THANK YOU to our tremendous faculty and staff in the School of Public Health for your endless contributions to our institution's excellence. I’d also like to commend our remarkable SPH leadership for their vision, guidance, and commitment. This is an incredible accomplishment, and I have no doubt we will continue to shine!

To View MPHonline.org 2020 Rankings, for "25 Best Doctor of Public Health Programs" CLICK HERE!

To View MPHonline.org 2020 Rankings, for "15 Best MPH Programs in New York" CLICK HERE!

School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy’s COTAD Chapter Hosts “A Taste of COTAD” Event

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October and November are important months in healthcare as they mark Cancer Awareness Month campaigns designed to educate, protect, and help eradicate the impact of cancer in communities everywhere. 

Last week, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month (commemorated in October), as well as Stomach Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness months (both commemorated in November), Downstate’s Coalition for Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) chapter in the School of Health Professions organized “A Taste of COTAD”—a LIVE, virtual cooking class designed to highlight the importance of nutrition for cancer survivors in the Downstate and local East Flatbush communities. During the interactive event, participants viewed the culinary session or joined virtually alongside Stephanie Dobosz, OTS, the event's host, in preparing a traditional Polish side dish that is suitable for the diets of cancer patients in treatment and survivors. 

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A nutrient-dense, whole-food, and well-balanced diet is an essential part of cancer treatment and post-cancer remission care. Proper diet enables patients to quickly recuperate between treatments, as well as continue on the road to long-term health and recovery in the remission phase, thus adding greatly to their quality of life. The right micro and macro nutrients can promote enhanced healing, a strengthened and boosted immune system, and comprehensive wellness in patients. 

Adopting healthy lifestyle and dietary habits serve to mitigate common side effects that are often a part of a cancer survivor’s experiences following radiation and chemotherapy treatments, including reduction of appetite, chronic nausea, irregular bowel movements, loss of taste, and weight loss.  Programs like “A Taste of COTAD” are a fantastic way of educating those on our campus, as well as the communities we serve about the importance of dietary considerations for continued and enhanced healing during and after cancer care.

Many thanks to Ms. Dobosz and the entire COTAD student-chapter here at Downstate, for ensuring the Downstate community remains vigilant in its efforts to raise awareness of this important issue. Special thanks to Vikram Pagpatan, MS, OTR/L, ATP, CAS, Assistant Professor and Admissions Coordinator for the Occupational Therapy Program, and COTAD faculty advisor, for his leadership in guiding students in SOHP to be champions and advocates of these important issues. 

Student Spotlight

COM Student Jadesola Temitope Olayinka Awarded ScrubCaps for a Cause Scholarship!

In exciting news, I am pleased to share that College of Medicine student Jadesola Temitope Olayinka, MS4, has been awarded the 2020 Scrubcaps for a Cause Scholarship—a distinguished accolade imparted to a select group of exemplary women in pursuit of their medical doctorates who have exhibited excellence in their academic journeys!

photo of Jadesola Temitope Olayinka

With sexism and gender-discrimination still playing a role in the disproportionately low female-male physician ratio, ScrubCaps for a Cause—a new 501(c)3 non-profit organization—was established last year to enhance the presence of women in medicine and to drive enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion of female students in medical school by funding their education with gender-exclusive scholarship awards. Although hundreds of applicants were considered, the program selected an elite group of 30 recipients as a part of their inaugural cohort, including one Downstate superstar, Ms. Olayinka.

This was the inaugural year of the Scrubcaps for a Cause scholarship, and Ms. Olaynka was one of 120 students nationally selected to be awarded these merit-based funds.

In addition, funds were raised specifically for three students who attend medical school in the New York Metropolitain Area and continued their education and service in the hardest-hit areas of the city throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As though being awarded the scholarship wasn't exceptional enough, as a special honor, Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the National Institutes of Health, sent a letter directly to Ms. Olayinka to thank her and encourage her on her journey to becoming a physician during these trying times.  

photo of Jadesola Temitope Olayinka with letter

Dr. Fauci has become the nation's most formidable and trusted public health official that communities across this country have turned to for critical and accurate information throughout the coronavirus pandemic—as a student, to be honored by someone of his caliber is an accomplishment that is nothing short of remarkable.

Ms. Olayinka is a fourth-year medical student originally from Calgary, Canada. She earned her BS in natural sciences at the University of Calgary and joined Downstate in 2017 to pursue her medical doctorate. She is committed to the improvement of health disparities in marginalized communities, with a particular focus on advocacy for skin care in patients of color. She works to address the skin cancer prognosis disparity and improve physician awareness and recognition of dermatologic conditions in skin of color. 

Ms. Olayinka began community outreach as an undergraduate. She founded Adopt a Block YYC, an organization that conducted community outreach initiatives back in Calgary, Canada. Partnering with Social Workers, Calgary Immigration Services, and Boys and Girls Club, she has conducted job fairs for refugees, as well as clothing and school supply drives. She was the recipient of the Immigrants of Distinction Award in 2019 in recognition of her efforts. She was additionally honored with the National Medical Fellowships United Health Foundation and New York Community Trust Awards, through which she organizes free skin screenings and conducts skin of color research.

Passionate about cultural competency and health disparity education for her fellow students, Ms. Olayinka served as the Power & Privilege Workshop Coordinator, and on the Health Equity Advocacy Leadership Pathway steering committee. She has extensive involvement with the Student National Medical Association, serving as former co-President, and holds regional leadership as the Region IX Secretary. Ms Olayinka will receive her medical degree from Downstate's College of Medicine in 2022 following a research year and will be applying to dermatology residency programs. 

CONGRATULATIONS on this incredible achievement, Ms. Olayinka! Thank you for your commitment to scholarship and excellence and for being an inspiration to others.

Downstate Shout Outs!

Shout out to…

The College of Medicine Dean F. Charles Brunicardi, M.D., FACS, for delivering the Samuel L. Kountz Lecture at Surgical Grand Rounds on November 19, speaking on the “The Leadership Principles of Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr.“ Dr. Kountz was the nation’s first African American transplant surgeon. In 1972, as Chair of Surgery, he founded our Transplant Center, which from its start has been dedicated to ensuring that minority and underserved populations have access to renal replacement therapy and transplantation. 

Salvador Dura-Bernal, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, for being part of a panel organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Google Cloud on the benefits of using CloudBank, an NSF-funded cloud access bank launched to help accelerate research in the computer science community. Several current NSF funding opportunities are CloudBank enabled. Dr. Dura-Bernal’s research focuses on simulating brain circuits on supercomputers. 

Margaret R. Hammerschlag, M.D., Professor and Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Stephan A. Kohlhoff, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseasesand Stephan Wadowski, M.D., Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, for being among the many co-authors of “SARS-COV-2 Clinical Syndromes and Predictors of Disease Severity in Hospitalized Children and Youth,“ an eight site, multicenter study featured in the November 14 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics. The study identified multiple admission variables that might help predict the severity of COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory disease in acutely ill children. 

IAVI, the anchor tenant at Downstate’s BioBAT facility in Sunset Park, for its collaboration with Merck on creating a coronavirus vaccine. While Merck isn’t considered a leader in the rush to deliver a vaccine to market, its project with IAVI could make Merck the biggest winner in the long run, according to Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines must be stored at below-freezing temperatures and will require two doses. In contrast, the Merck-IAVI vaccine, when available, won’t require freezing and will be administered with one dose. And while not currently in trials, a “swish and swallow” delivery protocol is being looked at. The Merck-IAVI vaccine uses the same technology that is the basis for Merck’s Ebola Zaire vaccine. 

For more information on BioBAT, CLICK HERE.


Have a Shout Out to recommend?

Send to Ellen.watson@downstate.edu


MSF - Doctors Without Borders: SUNY Downstate Recruitment Info Session

MSF Info Session - Doctor's Without Borders



President's Bulletin
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
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