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University Hospital at Downstate Welcomes its First Baby of 2022

First Baby

Congratulations to proud new parents Danielle Walker and Gareth Thomas on the birth of their son, Daylin, who made his arrival at 6:57 AM on January 1. Daylin was the first baby born at our newly-renamed University Hospital at Downstate!

Baby Daylin, delivered by Ishola Adeyemo, M.D., FACOG, weighed in at 6 lbs. 1 oz., and 19 inches long.

The family received a gift bag of Downstate-branded goodies, and a special breakfast delivered bedside, courtesy of Operations Manager Holly Rossi and the entire Sodexo team.

New York Academy of Medicine Inducts 28 New Downstate Members

nyam logo

During the recent New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) annual meeting, I had the privilege of welcoming new fellows and members who joined the Academy in 2021. This group included 28 members of the Downstate community, representing a broad spectrum of departments from our College of Medicine and the College of Nursing. I know they will represent Downstate proudly and contribute significantly to the New York Academy of Medicine's mission. Congratulations to our new inductees!


Sanjeev Agarwal, M.D., MS, FAAPMR
Interim Division Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Director of Interventional Pain Management, and Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Medicine

Alex Barkan, M.D., FACS, FASMBS
Assistant Professor of Surgery (through Residency Affiliation with Richmond University Medical Center)

Bonny J. Baron, M.D., FACEP
Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine 

F. Charles Brunicardi, M.D., FACS
Dean, College of Medicine

Wellman Cheung, M.D., FACS
Clinical Professor of Urology

Sule Doymaz, M.D., FAAP
Pediatric Intensivist, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Lisa S. Dresner, M.D., FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Surgery

Americo E. Esquibies, M.D., MBA, MPH
Visiting Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Christina Guillen, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

David Heimann, M.D., FACS
Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery (through Residency Affiliation with VA New York Harbor Healthcare System – Brooklyn Campus)

Chongmin Huan, Ph.D., M.D.
Assistant Professor of Surgery and Cell Biology, and Director, Surgical Research Laboratory

Abdo Kabarriti, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Urology

Jenny Libien, M.D., Ph.D., FCAP
Chair of Pathology, Associate Professor of Pathology and Neurology

Jean B. McHugh, Ph.D., APRN, ACNS-BC
Associate Professor and Director, Accelerated BS in Nursing Track, College of Nursing 

Barbara Ann Mary Messina, Ph.D., R.N., ANP
Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Transformational Education, College of Nursing

Yvonne Harriette Nathan, Ed.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor of RN/BS and Accelerated BS Programs College of Nursing

Nikolaos Papamitsakis, M.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, and Director, Vascular Neurology Fellowship

Joanne Ritter-Teitel, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC
Associate Professor, Director for Clinical and Community Partnerships, and Chair, Entry-level Programs, College of Nursing

Daniel M. Rosenbaum, M.D., MHCDS
Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Neurology

Janet A. Schneller, M.D., FCAP
Clinical Professor of Pathology

Teresa Yvonne Smith, M.D., MSEd, FACEP
Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Affiliations, and Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine

Sumanth Channapatna Suresh, MBBS, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplant Surgery

Francisca Tolete Velcek, M.D., FACS, FAAP
Professor of Surgery, Professor of Pediatrics and Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery

Warren D. Widmann, M.D., FACS
Clinical Professor of Surgery

David Jeffrey Wlody, M.D., FASA
Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology



Lauren Ellis, MS, FNP-BC
Simulation Lab Manager/Lecturer, College of Nursing



Stephanie Cardona, BS
College of Medicine, Class of 2023

As Chair of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, I would like to recognize previous Downstate inductees and thank them for their continued support of NYAM’s many activities. Their commitment reminds us that NYAM's mission remains as vital as when the Academy was founded in 1847 as a voice for medical professionals and an advocate for public health reform.

Physicians and non-physicians are eligible for Fellowship consideration. To join the ranks of the Academy, please see the Nomination Process | New York Academy of Medicine (nyam.org) for more information.

Remembering Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Along with the rest of the world, a few weeks ago, I was saddened upon hearing the news of the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Bishop Tutu left a remarkable legacy of work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, fusing ideas from black theology and African theology as the basis for his work and deeply-held beliefs in the goodness of people.

Desmond Tutu

I had the incredible privilege of meeting Bishop Tutu at my graduation from Morehouse School of Medicine in 1993, where he was the Commencement Speaker.

Along with then-United States Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, Louis W. Sullivan M.D., as President of my medical school class, I was asked to join the official greeting party for Bishop Tutu.

Bishop Tutu’s commencement message was tempered with good humor and reverence and included life experiences and lessons learned. He spoke movingly—and without notes, as I recall—about the end of apartheid and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome and transcend such evils. His global message of forgiveness and unity—amid his outspokenness about human rights abuses in South Africa and globally—has left a legacy of selflessness and love for humankind.Tutu Riley

He also reminded our graduating class to use our hard-earned degrees and educational attainments to make our communities and the world a better place.

I recently shared this 1993 Commencement picture taken with Bishop Tutu on LinkedIn; it is a treasured photo that has remained in all of my offices over the years.

South Africa and the world have lost a great one.

Santa’s Keepers Celebrates Ten Years of Supporting the Child Life Center

Santas Helper

I extend a special thank you to Network Technology Group Field Technician James (Jimmy) Doyle, and Child Life & Parenting Education Director Lisa S. Smith, CCLS, for their continued labor of love to provide holiday toys and gifts to children who come through the Child Life Center at Downstate.

What began several years ago as an event with the Chief of Medicine’s Administrative staff has evolved into Santa’s Keepers, led by Jimmy  and its sponsor, Manhattan Venture Partners. Now in its 10th year, Santa’s Keepers, generously sponsored by the MVP Foundation and its president Jared Carmel, remains a great success. We greatly appreciate MVP.

More than 60 children received their dream gifts during the holiday season, including Nintendo switches and bubble machines. Jimmy and Lisa continue this labor of love each year, bringing joy to thousands of children and their families in the ten years since the program began.

Physician Assistant Program Receives Full Accreditation

Physician Assistant Accreditation

Congratulations to the School of Health Professions’ Physician Assistant Program on earning full accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

This successful and very welcome outcome reflects hundreds of hours of preparation and hard work by the team in the Physician Assistant Program, including Andrea Trimmingham, MA, PA-C, and the Program’s faculty.

Physician Assistant study is one of the top 10 fastest-growing professions in the healthcare field. In addition, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for high-functioning physician assistants will grow by more than 30 percent over the next decade. Therefore, the need for PA scholars is substantial. Since its inception, more than 700 students have graduated from the PA Program at Downstate.

PA Program chair Andrea Trimmingham, MA, PA-C, all SOPH PA faculty, SOPH dean Allen Lewis, M.D., CHCH, COM dean F. Charles Brunicardi, M.D.; SOHP Associate Dean for Program Operations and Quality Shushawna DeOliveira, DHA; COM Senior Associate Dean for Assessment and Quality Improvement Bonnie Granat, Ph.D., and the members of Downstate’s Assessment Committee all deserve a heartfelt thanks for their hard work resulting in this terrific outcome.

Click here to read the complete statement granting accreditation.

Dean Escallier Joins the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education to Train Accreditation Site Reviewers

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College of Nursing dean and professor Lori Escallier, Ph.D., R.N., CPNP, FAAN, is among a few select nursing leaders invited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) to train more than 700 volunteer accreditation site reviewers.

Dr. Escallier will brief new site reviewers on the nursing accreditation process, ensuring that each team member provides significant input into peer-review while also providing perspective on what they might encounter. The goal is to ensure site reviewers familiarity with the policies, procedures, and standards unique to specialized accreditation.

Accreditation is the formal, competency-based process of assessing programs for quality and is an essential element of higher education. Our education programs at Downstate undergo review by nine separate accrediting bodies, which is crucial to extending Downstate’s reach and reputation in the teaching profession.

For the Downstate reviewers who selflessly volunteer hours of their time to serve as site reviewers for their respective disciplines, I extend my gratitude to you.

The President’s Office Welcomes a New Administrative Fellow


The President’s Office welcomes administrative fellow Isaiah Marshall-Thomas, MPH. Isaiah is a 2021 graduate of Downstate’s School of Public Health, earning the MPH in Health Policy and Management. As the administrative fellow in the President’s Office, Isaiah provides special projects and research support to President Riley and Downstate leadership, ensuring seamless and effective processes.

During his time in the MPH program, Isaiah was appointed as Student Representative to the School of Public Health’s CEPH Re-Accreditation Self-Study Committee. Before joining the Office of the President, he worked for the Downstate Test and Trace Corps, assisting with the critical pool saliva testing and contact tracing efforts for the Downstate community.

Before coming to Downstate’s School of Public Health, Isaiah was active in music education. While pursuing the BA degree in Music at Tufts University, Isaiah co-founded Alley to the World, a St. Kitts-based nonprofit initiative dedicated to providing free music lessons and career mentorship to Caribbean-based youth. This endeavor was fueled by Isaiah’s Alley to the World co-founder, whose family is from St. Kitts. Encouraged to give back to the Caribbean, they hope to expand their mission to Trinidad and Tobago. Isaiah, whose parents are from Trinidad, is incredibly proud of his dual-citizenship.

Isaiah aspires to a career in health policy and administration in the Caribbean and hopes to close the gap between healthcare institutions and the communities they serve.

Drs. Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde “Work Their Magic”

Goldblum GroupCongratulations to Stephen Macknik, Ph.D., for receiving The Society for Neuroscience’s 2021 Science Educator Award recognizing his work in bringing science to the public. Susana Martinez-Conde, Ph.D.—Dr. Macknick’s lab partner—received the same award in 2014. The award is sponsored by the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the brain in health and disease.

Drs. Macknick and Martinez-Conde are Empire Innovator Scholars and professors of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Physiology & Pharmacology at Downstate. Together, they launched the field of “Neuromagic”—the scientific study of the brain mechanisms that allow us to be deceived by magic.

Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde have teamed up with the world’s best magicians to study how magic misdirection tricks audiences; they hope to understand better how the brain develops, functions, and ages. Their joint scientific outreach, which they frequently discuss in “Illusion Chasers,” an ongoing blog in Scientific American, has received more than 200 million visits.

Jeff Goldblum

Recently, they were featured on Disney+’s “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” appearing with magicians Penn & Teller and Zach King. A conversation on the science behind magic among Drs. Macknik, Martinez-Conde, and the editors of “The Koalition” can be found here.

Dr. Ellen Ginzler Contributes to Rheumatology White Paper on Hydroxychloroquine and Cardiac Toxicity

GinzlerDistinguished Teaching Professor of Medicine and Chief of Rheumatology Ellen M. Ginzler, M.D., MPH, recently joined rheumatology, cardiology, and dermatology colleagues to develop a consensus-based white paper on the relationship of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ) to cardiac toxicity and guidelines for the use of these drugs.

Though foundational for treating systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and various skin conditions, HCQ and CQ use was questioned due to potential cardiac toxicity and a failed experimental treatment for COVID-19 infection.

It is imperative to understand the potential impacts of these drugs. For example, a rare side effect of long-term use of these drugs may lead to cardiomyopathy-associated arrhythmias and heart failure. Physicians who prescribe HCQ /CQ must be aware of potential impacts and carefully weigh risk/benefit, especially when treating high-risk patients.

The White Paper was published in The Journal of Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Transplant Team Walks for Kidney Health

Image of the Kidney Foundation Logo

The SUNY Downstate Transplant Team deserves kudos for its generous support of the National Kidney Foundation’s 2021 Fundraising Walk. The Transplant team raised $4,000 to improve the lives of kidney patients in our community and around the country during the November Rockaway Boardwalk event.

Kidney WalkCongratulations to #TeamDownstate Transplantation Surgery Chief Caroline RochonM.D., UHD chief executive officer David H. Berger, M.D., MHCM, FACS, Coordinator of Patient Education and the Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness Betty Jung, RN, BSN, DQE, Assistant Director of Nursing Linda Cohen, RN, MSN, MPH, BC-ADM, CDCES, Continuing Medical Education Director Edeline Mitton, MEd, and Professor of Medicine and recently-appointed Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation Mariana Markell, M.D. 

Shout Outs:

Downstate’s video on Plant-Based Health and Nutrition—This video and the initiative sponsored by the College of Medicine, School of Public Health, and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office has amassed 1.3 million views to date. The discussion is co-hosted by Distinguished Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology Richard Rosenfeld, M.D., MPH, MBA, and Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Elizabeth Helzner, Ph.D. Speakers include New York City’s first vegan mayor, Eric Adams, who reversed his diabetes diagnosis by embracing a plant-based diet. See the video here.

University Hospital at Downstate CEO David H. Berger, M.D., MHCM for his participation in “Increasing OR Profitability: It May Be Easier Than You Think.”

The presentation—which was carried on HIStalk Webinars—covered the theory and complexities of using OR block time to full effect when scheduling surgeries and the potential for A.I. to align operational imperatives with strategic decision-making. Listen to the complete discussion here.

Obstetrics & Gynecology Chair and College of Medicine and School of Public Health Professor Camille A. Clare, M.D., MPH, CPE, FACOG, was honored by Life of Hope, celebrating the organization’s 15th anniversary. Life of Hope provides programs and forums directed at helping and empowering youth and immigrants in Central Brooklyn.

Associate Professor of Clinical Radiology Jinel A. Scott, M.D., MBA, for her election as an at-large director on the Radiological Society of North America’s (RNSA) Board of Directors. Dr. Scott is also a member of RSNA’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the RSNA representative to the Radiology Health Equity Coalition. She also serves as Director of Emergency Radiology, Quality Improvement, and Patient Safety at Kings County Hospital. Dr. Scott will serve on the RSNA Board of Directors for a three-year term.

Shirley “Lee” Eisner, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology, was recently appointed to a first term on the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS) Administrative Board, a 15-member leadership group that sets the thematic direction, priorities, and strategies for the Council. Dr. Eisner also serves on the CFAS Program Committee and is actively engaged in the CFAS Biomedical Research and Education Committee. The seat became official at the conclusion of the November AAMC Learn Serve Lead Annual Meeting in 2021.

Congratulations to the Downstate Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA), which received the 2021 Award for Excellence in Inclusion and Diversity and Equity in Medical Education and Patient Care.

In case you missed it…

Here are our Editor’s Picks from recent news articles featuring Downstate or quoting Downstate faculty, staff, or students:


The New York Times

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

Dr. Demissie was quoted eight times in the New York Times during 2021. Here are some of the most recent articles to which he contributed:


December 26, 2021

“As Omicron Spreads, Some Nursing Homes Struggle to Boost Residents.”


October 19, 2021

“Racism is Declared a Public Health Crisis in New York City.”


September 29, 2021

“Antibody Rates Among Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are Double Those of Others, New Estimates Show.”


News 12

Featuring: Teresa Y. Smith, M.D., MSEd, FACEP, Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Affiliations, and Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine

Dr. Smith spoke to News 12 about the Omicron surge, vaccine boosters, and more.

News 12 interviews Dr. Teresa Smith of SUNY on kids receiving the vaccine booster


CBS News

Featuring: Camille A. Clare, M.D., MPH, CPE, FACOG

Why Aren’t More Pregnant Women of Color Getting Vaccinated? Doctors Point to Distrust and Poor Outreach – November 11, 2021

Must-see Downstate TV

Must see Downstate TV features….

SUNY Downstate Obstetrics & Gynecology
(previously recorded)

Downstate’s OB/GYN Residency Program in Central Brooklyn is known for its mission-driven, culturally sensitive training.


View full video here


SUNY Downstate Student Faculty Show
(previously recorded)

Student Faculty ShowView full video here



To submit an item in consideration for The President’s Bulletin, please email BulletinSubmissions@downstate.edu.