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College of Medicine hosts 26th Annual White Coat Ceremony!


The College of Medicine (COM) held its 26th Annual White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage that emphasizes the importance of honorable, honest, curious, and compassionate care as students begin their academic journeys. Jeffrey Putman, Ed.D., VP for Academic and Student Affairs, provided opening remarks at the live event to welcome more than 200 doctors-in training. Students were reminded that, as they progress through Downstate’s Medical Program, they are to embody the altruism, duty, and responsibility symbolized by the white coat.


I was honored to share my thoughts with students, underscoring the symbolism on the white coat. It is an emblem of the responsibilities that physicians bear, and of the critical role they play in society— and never more so than in challenging times like these. These physicians-to-be, with their medical backgrounds, will protect the health of our patients and ultimately safeguard the future of our nation.

Photo of Dr. Hassan Tetteh

The ceremony continued with F. Charles Brunicardi, M.D., FACS, SVP and Dean of the College of Medicine, who commended scholars for entering the field of medicine during one of the most trying and critical times in history. Dean Brunicardi also welcomed the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Hassan Tetteh, M.D., MBA, FACS, FACHE, U.S. Navy Captain and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and adjunct faculty member at Howard University College of Medicine. 

CONGRATULATIONS to our scholars who are moving into one of the most respected and important professions known to man—and welcome to Downstate! Many thanks to Dean Brunicardi and Dr. Putman for their leadership, as well as to all of our participating COM students, faculty, and staff for pulling together a meaningful and memorable live and virtual program.


CLICK HERE or on the image below to WATCH COM's 2021 WHITE COAT CEREMONY!




College of Nursing | CON Students Awarded 2021 HRSA Grant-funded SDS Scholarships!


In June of 2020, the College of Nursing (CON) was awarded a 5-year, $3.25M Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) scholarship grant, an award designed to support the financial costs associated with the master and doctoral-level training for nursing students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds.

To date, the Scholarships for Disadvantages Students (SDS) grant has enabled leadership in the College of Nursing to provide financial support and relief to dozens of deserving nursing students in need, and will continue providing financial relief to more than 200 students over the life of the award.

The first round of scholarships were announced in the summer of 2020 and provided relief to approximately 60 nursing students, and I am pleased to share that the second round of SDS funds were recently awarded and, as designed, they are already providing much-needed financial relief and simultanieusly transforming the educational journeys of our outstanding College of Nursing scholars.

Here is a message of gratitude from one of our 2021 SDS Scholars—and an example of how meaningful these awards have been in the lives of Downstate students:

I'm honored and incredibly grateful to be a recipient of the SDS scholarship award. This [is] such an emotional and exciting moment for me because I can accomplish my dream without having financial concerns. The generosity of this award will allow me to focus again on being the best future nurse practitioner that I aspire to be. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

-SN, CON student 

photo of escallier and rohan

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our College of Nursing scholars and thank you for your contributions and commitment to one of the most critically essential professions in society, and for choosing to pursue your careers here at Downstate. Many thanks to College of Nursing Dean and Professor, Lori Escallier, Ph.D., RN, CPNP PC, FAAN, for her leadership, as well as Annie Rohan, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, NNP-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Programs, and Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, for her role in securing this grant award on behalf of our students.


School of Public health | SPH Students Establish Downstate’s First-Ever Planetary Health Club



In exciting news, I am proud to share that a group of students in the School of Public Health, established Downstate’s first-ever Planetary Health Club (PHC)!

Downstate’s PHC is an official member of the Planetary Health Alliance—co-housed by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—and as a part of the alliance, Downstate’s PHC will aim to “integrate environmental knowledge, determinants of health, research, and policy solutions” in order to equip PHC members with the skills and tools to fight the negative effects on global health connected to “environmental degradation and climate instability.”sph_harvard

Our new PHC has already begun sponsoring several events, and is currently focusing its efforts on promoting Campus Sustainability Month from October 1st th2021. Be sure to check below for PHC’s October announcement, as well as information on how you can be involved:


Help us celebrate Campus Sustainability Month with Project Green Challenge

    • From October 1 – October 30, Project Green Challenge will inform, inspire and mobilize high school, college, and grad students worldwide around climate action, public health, sustainability, social justice and advocacy.
    • Each day during the month of October, a uniquely themed challenge will be delivered to registered participants by email at 6 am Pacific Time. Each challenge will be live for 24 hours, inviting students to watch videos, complete actions, upload deliverables, acquire points, learn about sustainability, and heal the planet. Deliverables include photos, videos, creative artwork and written content uploaded to the PGC site and across Turning Green social platforms. Thoughtfully curated, theme-related prize packages will be awarded daily for outstanding submissions.
    • You can sign up by yourself as an Individual, or as a Team of up to 4 people!
    • Sign up HERE and be sure to list SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University as your school!
    • FILL OUT THIS FORM if you want to meet new people and be placed on a team members from Downstate’s PHC!
    • Project Greene Challenge Rules
    • Review last year’s challenges HERE

I would like to send a big THANK YOU to our dedicated SPH scholars Vivian Nguyen, Club President; Simran Patel, Vice President; Luke Morales, Secretary; and Zachary Chung, Treasurer— for driving the development of this critical and meaningful initiative on behalf of the Downstate Community, as well as Laura GeerPh.D., MHS, Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, for serving as the faculty advisor, and supporting, guiding their efforts to promote the importance of planetary health!

For anyone interested in becoming a PHC Member, CLICK HERE!

Downstate's Pediatrics Department and the School of Health Professions Awarded $2.2M HRSA Grant to Establish Brooklyn LEND Program!


I am pleased to share that an interdisciplinary team from Downstate was awarded a $2.2M, 5-year HRSA grant to establish a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and other Disabilities (LEND) program here in Brooklyn!

Designed to address marked disparities in the identification and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as other neurodisabilities—this award is a collaboration between the College of Medicine’s (COM) Department of Pediatrics, and the School of Health Professions (SOHP). Led by Principal Investigator Harris Huberman, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, co-Principal Investigator Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC, SOHP Dean and Professor,, the award will create a Brooklyn LEND Autism Center of Excellence Training and Education Program, with the goals of enhancing ASD services across the lifespan by expanding capacity for early ASD diagnosis and evidence-based treatments, building a cadre of culturally-responsive providers, promoting leadership, and strengthening connections between providers, families, and community organizations.

The LEND program will be inter-professional, and will draw on both teachers and trainees from Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology, Social Work, and Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapy (as well as family members along with self-advocates), and providing both a core didactic program and a range of practicum experiences in Downstate clinics and in the community. This initiative builds on Downstate’s Early Child Development Autism Center of Excellence (ECDACE) program, and will complement current plans to establish a Behavioral Training program within the School of Health Professions (i.e., Applied Behavior Analysis MS degree program). 

dr_allen_lewisMany thanks to Dr. Huberman Dean Lewis,  and others within all participating departments for advancing the education of our Downstate scholars, and working to enhance the level of care we provide to the communities we serve.


Downstate Welcomes Dennis Sutterfield As New Chief Information Officer


A special welcome to Dennis Sutterfield who I recently appointed to the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO), effective September 20, 2021.

Mr. Sutterfield will serve as the key strategist and overall Information Technology (IT) administrative and operations leader for Downstate. He is responsible for building and leading stable, secure, and high-performing Information Technology and Telecommunications functions for the organization. In addition, he will develop and establish an information technology vision, structure, and strategy across the enterprise that supports and enables Downstate's endeavors to achieve its performance goals. 

Mr. Sutterfield joins SUNY Downstate with extensive experience in leading IT teams through complex strategic systems, and turning around difficult, often off-track projects/organizations using industry knowledge, assessment, and teaming abilities to clearly define problems and design a new, clear path to completion.

Having begun his career as an MRI technologist in both clinical and research settings, Mr. Sutterfield moved into medical informatics, and then worked for some time implementing and supporting Epic EMR systems. Most recently, he was an Associate Vice President in IT Applications at Temple University Health Systems in Philadelphia, PA, where he developed and implemented a strategic roadmap to improve the synergy for all their sites.

Mr. Sutterfield will collaborate with leaders at Downstate to ensure that IT is prepared to meet the current and future needs of Downstate. He will report to the Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Heidi Aronin, MPA.

Mr. Sutterfield received his MS in Organizational Leadership from Wilmington University in New Castle, DE, and his BA in Psychology at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA. He is currently pursuing CHCIO Certification, the first certification program exclusively for CIOs and IT executives in the healthcare industry.

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Sutterfield to Downstate. A special thank you and thanking Ms. Michelle Daniels-Devore for her tremendous and dedicated leadership as Interim Chief Information Officer. We also look forward to her continued contributions to the department.

Must See Downstate TV

Downstate videos from the New Media Division of Communications and Marketing, featuring faculty, students, and staff. Want to see more? Check out Downstate TV on YouTube at:



What is Digital Health (Lecture by Stan Kachnowski, PhD, MPA) | Digital Health 101 - YouTube


Digital Health 101 – A New Interdisciplinary Lecture Series Launched by UHB CEO Dr. David Berger

Inaugural Lecture: What is Digital Health, featuring Stan Kachnowski, Ph.D., MPA, Director of the Digital Health Program at Columbia Business School


Healthcare Delivery Transformation in Action: Meet Downstate Med Student Lori Zomback


Healthcare Delivery Transformation in Action:  Meet Downstate Med Student Lori Zomback

Featuring COM student Lori Zomback, who was named a 2021 Margaret E. Mahoney Fellow in Health Policy by the New York Academy of Medicine.

Shout Outs!

Shout Out goes to...

Michael Augenbraun, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases, for joining the “Ongoing Impact of COVID-19” panel at the 4th Annual Advocacy in Medicine Conference sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine on October 3rd.

COM Student Elaine Fletcher, for participating in a panel on “Activism in Medicine at All Levels of Training,” hosted by the N.Y. Doctors Coalition on September 19, 2021.

Brian T. McNeil, M.D., UHB Chief of Urology and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, for working with the American Urological Association (AUA) to raise awareness of health disparities in prostate cancer.  Dr. McNeil moderated a press briefing at the AUA’s annual meeting focusing on racial disparities in treatment and access to care, kicking off a national tour to bring attention to this issue. Check out his informational video HERE!

The Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group (LMIG), for its new veg garden – “because food=medicine.”  (You can see their project through the fencing, just off the corner of Clarkson and New York Avenues.)

Everyone from Downstate who participated in or contributed to the Brooklyn “Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” held this year on September 19. The “SUNY Downstate UHB SLT” team was the top fundraiser in Brooklyn this year, bringing in more than $20,000 to support the Alzheimer’s Association. Also walking from Downstate were teams SIGN, CEAD, and UHB Nursing Strong.  Go Team Downstate!

President Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MPH, MBA, MACP, had the honor of delivering the Annual Sullivan Lecture of the Association of Academic Health Centers, on September 28th.  The lecture is named for Louis W. Sullivan, M.D, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Service (1989-1993) and President Emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine. And, on September 29th, President Riley was a featured panelist at the virtual Symposium on Race and Medicine and inaugural Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., Professorship Installation at Boston University School of Medicine.

Media Moments

In case you missed it – here are a few Editor’s Picks from recent news articles featuring either Downstate or quoting Downstate faculty, staff, or students:


Drug Discovery & Development

Featuring Professor of Medicine Michael A. Weber, M.D

A Closer Look at Urovant’s Vibegron Blood Pressure Study—September 15, 2021



New York Post

September 18, 2021

Featuring School of Public Health Dean Kitaw Demissie, M.D., Ph.D. 

Students Crown NYC High Schools Amid Pandemic—September 18, 2021




SOHP Dean's Lecture Series

CLICK HERE to REGISTER for Lecture 2 (October 27, 2021): Building Key Processes for Continuous Quality Improvement