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Downstate Residents Score at 90th Percentile for Dermatology Board Exams for the Sixth Consecutive Year

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The results of the 2020 American Board of Dermatology Certifying Examination are in and Downstate has done it again! It is with great pride that I report our graduating Resident Physicians in the Department of Dermatology have again made history, scoring in the 90th percentile for the sixth consecutive year, which is well above the national median.

Derm Logo

Historically, Downstate’s Department of Dermatology remains a most competitive program, with its residents continuing to score at the uppermost levels of the board-certifying exam—a track record that continues driving a culture of distinction and raising our institution’s standard of excellence. Since 2015, our Dermatology residents have exceeded national averages, continuously ranking in the top 5-10%—not just across New York, but nationally.

Collective Resident Scores, American Board of Dermatology
Certifying Exam:

2015— 98th Percentile

2016— 97th Percentile

2017— 93rd Percentile

2018— 97th Percentile

2019— 94th Percentile

2020— 90th Percentile

While these exceptional board exam scores demonstrate the work ethic and passion of our students, it also shines a light on our extraordinary faculty and staff in the Department of Dermatology and around the campus. Our dedicated faculty have developed a robust educational program that prepares residents for success and continues to drive a legacy of merit at Downstate. The performance of our Dermatology residents is a testament of our Dr. Heilman faculty’s deep commitment to their educational growth and advancement.

I’d like to acknowledge the remarkable performance of our Dermatology residents, as well as extend my deepest thanks to Edward Heilman, M.D., FAAD, FCAP, Chair of Dermatology and Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Pathology, and all the dedicated faculty and staff who continue to make the Department of Dermatology a shining example of Downstate’s excellence.


College of Nursing

DNP Students Lisa Ma and Lauren Ellis Published Paper in the Evidence-Based Nursing Journal!

CON Ellis & Ma

I am pleased to report that Lisa Ma, APRN, MSN, FNP-C,  doctoral student in the College of Nursing's Doctor of Nursing Program (DNP), and Lauren Ellis, MS FNP-BC, College of Nursing Lecturer and doctoral student in the DNP Program, have recently been published in the Evidence-Based Nursing Journal!

Their article, Perinatal depressive and anxiety symptoms identifying predictors and psychosocial risks pregnant women, was supported by Myriam Cadet, Ph.D., APRN, MSN, FNP-C, Adjunct Professor in the College of Nursing.

EBN Journal Cover

Beyond the direct threat of COVID infection, safety measures put in place to reduce the spread have had a series of unintended negative effects. While pandemic protocols, city curfews, and social distancing guidelines have helped manage the spread of the virus, they continue to create a climate for increased anxieties and depression, posing a threat on mental health and well-being.

In the students’ article, they investigate the impacts the pandemic has had on pregnant mothers—finding that the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuations during a woman’s pregnancy or post-partum “can cause psychological reactions including, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, or panic disorder.”

Ms. Ellis and Ms. Ma’s study offered the following insights:

  • Future research is needed on health screening measures to assess if patients have experienced prenatal depression and anxiety symptoms;
  • In clinical practice, an appropriate assessment for depression and anxiety by primary care providers becomes crucial during the prenatal stage of pregnancy;
  • Investigating the prevalence and incidence rates of prenatal depression and anxiety can prepare healthcare providers with adequate knowledge to deliver safe and quality care to patients.

CONGRATULATIONS, Ms. Ellis and Ms. Ma, and many thanks for your contributions to nursing literature! Your article will enhance what is understood of prenatal depression and anxiety symptoms and enable healthcare professionals to positively influence healthcare outcomes.



School of Public Health

Dr. Michael Szarek Published as Lead Author in European Heart journal

European Heart Journal

MIchael Szarek

The School of Public Health (SPH)’s Michael Szarek, Ph.D., MS, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Executive Director of the Center for Clinical and Outcomes Research, has been published in the European Heart Journal, as the lead author for the article “Lipoprotein(a) lowering by alirocumab reduces the total burden of cardiovascular events independent of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering: ODYSSEY OUTCOMES trial.”

Dr. Szarek’s study was conducted to determine whether “baseline levels and alirocumab-induced changes in lipoprotein(a) and LDL-C [corrected for lipoprotein(a) cholesterol] independently predicted total cardiovascular events.” His findings show that baseline lipoprotein(a) predicted the risk of total cardiovascular events and risk reduction by alirocumab. He also found that Lipoprotein(a) lowering "contributed independently to cardiovascular event reduction, supporting the concept of lipoprotein(a) as a treatment target after ACS."


Dr. Szarek has served as a member of Executive Steering Committees and Data Safety Monitoring Committees for clinical trials of treatments for cardiovascular disease (atorvastatin, torcetrapib, lomitapide, alirocumab, apabetalone, sotagliflozin), complications of COVID-19 infection (colchicine, rivaroxaban, rNAPc2), and cancer (anastrozole, naratuximab emtansine), and as the statistical editor for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) and JACC – Cardiovascular Interventions. 

He has been a co-author on several publications in leading scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Cell, and on late-breaking presentations at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions and the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. 

CONGRATULATIONS, Dr. Szarek, and thank you for consistently contributing great value to public health literature.


School of Health Professions

Dr. David Kaufman Awarded $900k Grant for COVID Info Technology Research

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SOHP Kaufman

In exciting news, I am pleased to share that David Kaufman, Ph.D., FACMI, Clinical Associate Professor for the Medical Informatics Program in the School of Health Professions, was awarded a $895,000 grant for his proposal, “Evaluating and Enhancing Health Information Technology for COVID-19 Response Workflow in a Specialized COVID-19 Hospital in a Medically Underserved Community” that will be funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)!

Dr. Kaufman’s research will focus on the vulnerabilities exposed within our public health and healthcare delivery systems during the outbreak of COVID-19 and managing the unprecedented volume of new patients, while trying to contain the spread.

Currently, the surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations have stressed health care systems to and sometimes beyond their capacity. To understand the way Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) supports the hospital’s response, Dr. Kaufman will elucidate the workflow, usability, and interoperability barriers. This will inform the development of essential HIT tools to enable a more robust hospital pandemic response and cognitive support for the decision-making processes.

The proposed project will examine the emergency management response and resilience to the novel COVID-19 virus for an academic medical center (Downstate Health Sciences University) as our community experienced a severe outbreak during the first phase of this pandemic. Dr. Kaufman’s proposal offers much-needed insights into a previously opaque but mission-critical emergency responsive workflow. The research could yield innovative solutions for improving emergency preparedness response for the local community and beyond.

A respected researcher, Dr. Kaufman’s work has appeared in more than 150 publications and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct research pertaining to health literacy and eHealth literacy. Since 1994, he has been involved in several human-computer interaction projects pertaining to the evaluation of electronic health records, computer-provider order entry systems, language-learning systems for medical professionals, and a large-scale telemedicine system for patients with diabetes. He has extensive experience conducting cognitive research in relation to informatics initiatives and evaluating a wide range of health information technologies developed for clinicians, patients, and health consumers. 

Awards like Dr. Kaufman's recent awards and the grant awarded to the Diagnostic Medical Imaging Program back in September of 2020 to study the effect of placenta location on fetal and maternal outcomes from the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) Foundation Research Grant Program, are the result of an intentional and systematic school-wide research capacity building effort led by Dean Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC.

CONGRATULATIONS, Dr. Kaufman! Thank you for your contributions to scientific research, and for continuing to drive the success and mission of SOHP. 


Medical Informatics Program Earns Top National Rankings!

infomatics awards

I'm proud to announce that the Medical Informatics (MI) Program in the School of Health Professions (SOHP) has earned competitive regional and national, "Top Program" rankings from three different leading sources—the Health Informatics Degree Center, Universities.com, and Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration. Affordable tuition, dedicated faculty, a hands-on academic environment, flexible program offerings, and convenient location were cited amongst the reasons Downstate SOHP was a top choice for our students.

The Health Informatics Degree Center ranked Downstate's Medical Informatics program #1 amongst the top 20 most affordable master's degree programs in health informatics in the US. The ranking was based on education data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Universities.Com ranked Downstate's Medical Informatics program 5th amongst the best medical informatics colleges in New York in 2021. As their site notes, "Each school's ranking is based on the compilation of our data from reliable government sources, student surveys, college graduate interviews, and editorial review". Topping off their series of honors, Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration ranked our Medical Informatics program 14th on their 2021 list for the 20 Best Health Informatics Master’s Degree Programs based on an emphasis in healthcare, comprehensive curriculum, contemporary focus, and accreditation.

I’d like to thank Dean Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC and all of our dedicated and passionate faculty and staff in Medical Informatics Program for your tireless contributions that have added to the success of the MI Program, as well as the distinction of SOHP and our institution. I’d also like to extend a special thank you to Mohammad Faysel, PhD, FAMIA, Chair and Associate Professor of the Medical Informatics Program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, for his leadership in driving the program’s success.

dr faysel

Dr. Faysel received his bachelor and master’s degrees in computer science and his PhD in biomedical informatics. He has completed several NIH funded research training institutes in mobile health, global mobile health, and “Big Data” for computational medicine. Dr. Faysel’s research interests include mobile health, using informatics tools to reduce healthcare disparities and large-scale clinical data analytics. He brings more than 15 years of experience in the academia in teaching graduate level informatics courses, informatics curriculum development and conducting research. As a recognition of his teaching, Dr. Faysel was awarded the 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Faysel was recently awarded the designation of Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association (FAMIA, Class of 2021) as a recognition of his contribution to the field. He has also served as a reviewer of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Annual Symposium, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference, and International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) World Congress, and several journals. Dr. Faysel is an active member of AMIA and HIMSS.


University Hospital of Brooklyn

Family and Community Medicine Celebrate Re-Launch of Maternity Care Services!

uhb lead

I’m pleased to share that the Department of Family and Community Medicine celebrated the relaunch of its Maternity Care services at both clinical sites—Family Practice Suite B at the University Hospital of Brooklyn and Family Health Services at 840 Lefferts Avenue.

Black women in the U.S. disproportionately experience poor maternal health outcomes and higher maternal mortality rates than their White and Hispanic counterparts. In an effort to provide appropriate care at every step and bridge the gaps that exist, the Department of Family and Community Medicine, in collaboration with OBGYN has relaunched maternity care services for the women of Central Brooklyn. The hope is that multiple levels of collaboration develops between the Family and Community Medicine and OBGYN Departments to offer innovative and high-quality care that is responsive to the needs of surrounding communities.

Having a family doctor for obstetric care helps to provide a smoother transition into prenatal care. Maternity care is also an important and rewarding experience, as it provides us with a unique opportunity to understand, build, and connect with our patients, as well as their families. From well women exams to STD screening and counseling; prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care to fertility counseling and pregnancy options counseling. I am proud of the work our Department of Family and Community Medicine does every day to better serve the women of Brooklyn at every stage of life.

UHB Collage

I would like to extend a special thank you to Montgomery Douglas, M.D., Chairperson of the Family and Community Medicine Department; Marcia Edmond-Bucknor, M.D., Medical Director at Family Health Services Center and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; Anita Beecham, M.D., Medical Director at Suite B, Clinical Assistant Professor, and Clinical Assistant Dean in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; Faith Cornwall, CNM, Midwife; and the clinical teams at both sites, for making this relaunch a success.


Research Roundup

Downstate Collaborates on Immunoinformatic COVID-19 Research

Research Infection Genetics Evolution Journal

Even as we have worked with the NYS Department of Health and SUNY on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, our scientists continue to contribute to the scientific understanding of the virus’s molecular underpinnings.

T cells are a critical part of the body’s immune system. These cells play a fundamental role in the immunologic processes that target and kill viral pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now, using multilayered immunoinformatics—an emerging field of experimental immunology that combines advanced supercomputing and modeling software with huge repositories of clinical, genetic, and epidemiologic data—scientists have begun to build a comprehensive picture of the pathogen-expressed peptides that might best be exploited for COVID vaccine strategies.

Richard Coico

A recent paper by Richard Coico, Ph.D., Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Center and Professor of Cell Biology and Medicine, published in Infection, Genetics, and Evolution, looks at viral epitopes—potential peptide targets for T cells—to determine which may trigger SARS-CoV-2-specific protective T cell immunity. The research was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the University of Georgia and the Kalasalingam Academy of Research and Education in India.

Initial investigation identified 2,604 epitopes from 826 possible peptides. These were then narrowed to 45 peptide candidates present in all strains of SARS-CoV-2, and then further refined to eliminate those that could cause potentially deadly inflammatory responses. In the end, 18 epitopes were identified as likely to enhance future vaccine formulations. This is believed to be the first comprehensive genomic analysis focused on targeting these highly specific epitopes.

What is the practical application of this research? It is believed that knowing which T-cell responses target the SARS-CoV-2 virus without undesirable hypoinflammatory consequences could guide researchers in selecting appropriate immunological endpoints for vaccine clinical trials. The algorithms could also be used to develop targeted treatments that will inhibit or neutralize COVID infection based on genetic profiles and the length, course, severity, and type of symptoms. Additionally, as new mutant strains emerge, this type of profiling could help virologists keep vaccine formulations effective.

Future in vitro and in vivo studies will need to be undertaken to evaluate potential efficacy of the full array of epitopes with potential use against SARS-CoV-2. 

Thank you, Dr. Coico, for your contributions and this most interesting work that helps to unravel the mechanisms of COVID-19 infection!




Dawn Walker Honored by City and State Magazine

Dawn Skeete Walker

Congratulations are in order to Dawn Walker, MPA, Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing, on being named to City and State magazine’s list of “Top 50 Over Fifty: The Age Disruptors,” which honors public servants in New York who have committed decades of their lives to making New York a better place. Ms. Walker joined a distinguished list of some of New York’s most prominent leaders in government, business, media, and community engagement.  

At Downstate, Ms. Walker is responsible for managing the communications/public relations and marketing efforts for both the academic and hospital sides of our institution, and has expanded the department to include the New Media division (formerly, Biomedical Communications). Under Ms. Walker’s leadership, the communications team has undertaken marketing campaigns for the hospital, strengthened press efforts, and enhanced our engagement on social platforms. The department is currently launching an overhaul of Downstate’s website and branding campaign that will help us better tell our story. 

Immediately prior to joining Downstate in 2018, Ms. Walker served as Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing at The City University of New York's (CUNY) Kingsborough Community College. She has also held senior communications positions at CUNY’s Office of University Relations where she worked with its 24 campuses; and at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College, where she concurrently served as Executive Director of the Medgar Evers Educational Foundation. Ms. Walker also served as a deputy press secretary to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, where she managed portfolios for two deputy mayors focused on K-12 and higher education, youth and community development, public housing, and health and human services. 

A SUNY graduate of Old Westbury and CUNY’s Baruch School of Public Affairs, Ms. Walker served as a mayoral appointee to the NYC Department of Education Panel for Education Policy and as the ex-officio member of the board at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. She is a founding member of Women’s City Network, an organization focused on mentoring and engaging more women to enter careers in public service. She is a former Trustee of the New York Foundation and is currently on the board of College & Community Fellowship, an organization working with women returning from incarceration to enroll them in college. Ms. Walker also serves as Secretary of the board of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute that works to preserve the legacy of the slain civil rights leader and his widow. 

Please join me in congratulating Dawn Walker on this great honor! 


Downstate Shout Outs!

Shout out to…

The Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic, which received a grant of $20,000 from the Brooklyn Communities Collaborative as part of a campaign to help Brooklyn recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will provide funding for personnel and operating costs, and help keep BFC’s services free. 

Cut Red Tape 4 Heroes, whose members distributed free PPE to some 3,000 Downstate and Kings County employees on January 29, with the assistance of firefighters, chaplains, and volunteers from Housing Works. 

Samy L. McFarlane, M.D., MPH, MBA, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Medicine/Endocrinology and Associate Dean for Student Research in the College of Medicine, for his recent release of Diabetes and the Eye: Latest Concepts and Practices – Volume 2, published by Bentham Books. The book provides info on the latest and future developments in care for diabetic patients with ophthalmologic complications. Former Downstate Ophthalmology Chair Dr. Douglas R. Lazzaro is co-editor.  

Daniel Siegel, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology, discussed the importance and challenges of early detection for melanoma on the Melanoma Research Foundation’s Facebook page as part of its “Ask the Expert” series. 

Teguru Tembo, College of Medicine student, for being awarded the Buckfire & Buckfire 2020 Medical School Diversity Scholarship, which the law firm has given annually since 2014 as a way of helping medical students pursue their career goals. Mr. Tembo was selected for his advocacy on behalf of patients who speak languages other than English, with his specific focus on Medical Spanish and Medical Chinese. 


Have a Shout Out to recommend?

Send to Ellen.watson@downstate.edu




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