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NIMHD Director Headlines TRANSPORT Fifth Anniversary Symposium

Downstate’s TRANSPORT (TRANSlational Program Of Health Disparities Research Training) marked its fifth anniversary on March 11 with a half-day symposium dedicated to “Advancing the Science of Community Engagement: Lessons Learned from COVID-19.”

photo of Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D.The virtual program featured distinguished guest speakers and thought-provoking panels. The plenary speaker, Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., director, offered insights on the intersection of COVID-19 outcomes and health disparities. 

TRANSPORT is a $10M NIMHD-funded endowment grant Downstate received in 2017 to recruit and train researchers interested in health equity. Income from the endowment also supports impactful activities critical to addressing the lack of diversity in science and medicine.

photo of Marcus Lambert, Ph.D.W. Marcus Lambert, Ph.D., Research Strategy and Operations associate vice president, noted that a critical element of creating a diverse scientific faculty is a welcoming, diverse campus environment. The TRANSPORT endowment facilitates this while also advancing community engagement.

The symposium focused on health equity and the pandemic. “We can’t talk about community engagement without considering the totality of COVID-19,” said Dr. Lambert. “Our approach to community-engaged research cannot remain the same. The science must change. The approach must change. It will require community partners coming together with academic partners to drive a new community-engaged science agenda.”

Dr. Pérez-Stable emphasized the need to evaluate the fundamental factors that consistently determine health, using standardized measurements that do not simplistically rely on race and socioeconomic factors to explain health discrepancies. “We need to facilitate science discovery with big data. Finally, we need to implement what we know to promote health equity,” he advised. 

The agenda included symposia panels included, “What is Community Engagement? The Evolution of Community Engagement in Healthcare”, “Community Engagement Models: How Have We Engaged the Community Thus Far?,” and “Future Directions and Capacity Building.”

TRANSPORT principal investigators include president Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MPH, MBA, MACP, Department of Medicine chair Moro Salifu, M.D., MBA, MACP, Diversity Education and Research associate dean Carla Boutin-Foster, M.D., MSc, and Dr. Lambert.

Thank you to the faculty members who participated in the symposium, including Department of Medicine and STAR Program nurse scientist and postdoctoral associate Portia Thomas, DNSC, RN-CNE-MPH; Community Health Sciences assistant professor Azure Thompson, DrPH, MPH; Medical Informatics assistant professor Adiebonye Jumbo, Ph.D.; Health Policy and Management associate professor and chair Thomas I. Mackie, Ph.D., MPH; Community Health Sciences associate professor and associate dean Aimee Afable, Ph.D., MPH; Obstetrics and Gynecology Health Equity director and Quality Improvement and Innovation vice-chair Christina Pardo, M.D., MPH, FACOG; Community Health Sciences assistant professor and assistant dean Marlene Camacho-Rivera, ScD, MS, MPH; Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health chief executive officer Marilyn Fraser, M.D., and Division of Research Development executive director M. Gabe Rodriguez.

Thank you to CME Office director Edeline Mitton, M.Ed., CME conferences director Judith Ruddock, as well as Brooklyn Health Disparities Center director of operations Pamela D. Straker, Ph.D., and research education coordinator Lakia Maxwell, MSCH—both of whom served on the Symposium Planning Committee.


Downstate Transplant Division 💕 National Kidney Health and Donate Life Awareness Campaigns 

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March is National Kidney Month, and April is National Donate Life Month. These back-to-back awareness campaigns are essential to Downstate and our Samuel L. Kountz, Jr., Transplant Division, which proudly marks its fiftieth year of dedicated service in 2022. 

In March, national organizations seek to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys to overall health. In April, the public is encouraged to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved and healed lives through the gift of donation.  

Organ donation and kidney health awareness are essential to our local community, where there are high levels of diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease. If not carefully managed, these illnesses can lead to kidney failure, dialysis, and the need for a transplant. 

This month, you can show your support for both of these awareness campaigns by registering to become an organ donor. It’s easy to do in New York State when you renew your license or non-driver identification card.


Center of Excellence in Alzheimer's Disease Receives $2.3M Award Renewal

Congratulations to the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD) on its $2.3M grant renewal (through 2027) from the New York State Department of Health. The grant renewal allows CEAD to continue integrated one-stop care for geriatric patients and caregivers, including geriatric psychiatrists, geriatric medicine specialists, a behavioral neurologist, medical assistants, social workers, and care managers. The program also serves as a training site in dementia care, geriatric psychiatry, and medicine for interprofessional students, residents, and fellows.

According to the Department of Health, in 2017, an estimated 390,000 individuals in New York State had Alzheimer’s disease; that number is expected to increase to 460,000 by 2025.

According to CEAD associate director, Michael Reinhardt, M.D., persons living with dementia have experienced an acceleration of their disorders as we cautiously emerge from pandemic ravages, amplifying the far-reaching physical and social challenges older adults face.

The renewal also represents the culmination of six years of hard work, dedication to patient care excellence, and gratifying partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Association, CaringKind, and Sunnyside Community Services—all of whom we are grateful to have as committed collaborators.


Anthem Foundation Funds Haitian Women’s Birth Equity Initiative 

Anthem Foundation logo

Downstate’s community partner, Life of Hope (LOH), has received a $575K three-year grant from the Anthem Foundation for the Haitian Women’s Birth Equity initiative—a joint project between Downstate and LOH. The grant is part of Anthem’s plan to invest up to $30M to improve maternal health outcomes over the next three years. It is one of only 16 projects funded in this first round of awards.  

The grant will fund the “Central Brooklyn Immigrant Mother’s Outreach Initiative” that will focus on meaningful engagement with immigrant communities to reduce barriers to both services and care. It will include an outreach van to engage people more personally and create culturally-tailored messaging and health promotion materials.  

The long-term vision is to build capacity in the local healthcare infrastructure and community-based organizations, and to serve marginalized communities more effectively. It will also raise awareness among researchers and public health professionals about the critical role of culture and ethnicity in health engagement and outcomes.   

In New York City, Black women are nine times more likely to have a pregnancy-related death than White counterparts. In addition, Black women are also more likely to experience severe maternal morbidity (SMM) incidents—considered a “near miss” before death.  

According to the latest available data within this vulnerable group, Haitian women have the highest rate of SMM, with a rate of 494.0 compared to 229.8 for U.S.-born women, East Flatbush—home to the city’s largest Haitian community—has the highest rate of SMM in New York City. The data underscore the severe impact of birthing health disparities on the Haitian community.   

The Haitian Women's Birth Equity Initiative is part of Life of Hope’s Sante Se Lavi (Health is Life) program, which provides health information and resources in Haitian Creole, using virtual programming, social media posts, and radio to get its message out.

photo of Christina Pardo, M.D.Obstetrics and Gynecology Quality and Innovation vice-chair and Health Equity director Christina Pardo, M.D., MPH, sits on Life of Hope’s board of directors and chairs Sante Se Lavi. She is a well-known and trusted voice in the Haitian community and produces and hosts “Sante Fanm Se Lavi,” which airs weekly on Facebook, where she is known on the air as “Dr. CP.”

Thank you, Dr. Pardo, for all you do for Downstate and our community! 


Dr. Puneet Dhaliwal Joins Physical Therapy Program Faculty

photo of Puneet DhaliwalPlease welcome Puneet Dhaliwal, PT, DPT, MA, NCS, to the Physical Therapy Program as an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions. Dr. Dhaliwal has more than ten years of clinical, teaching, and research experience and will teach entry- and advanced-level courses.

She earned a master’s degree in motor control and learning from Columbia University and a doctor of physical therapy from Utica College. Dr. Dhaliwal is board certified in treating adults with neurologic disorders and has expertise in the rehabilitation of vestibular disorders of the inner ear.

Before joining Downstate, Dr. Dhaliwal was the clinical supervisor for neurological and pulmonary rehabilitation at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. She has presented at state and international levels, including at February’s American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting. Her topic was “How Should Physical Therapists Screen for Osteoporosis? A Scoping Review.”

Dr. Dhaliwal is a committee member on APTA's Academy of Neurology, serving as a committee member on its Vestibular Special Interest Podcast group, and its Academy of Geriatrics, which supports physical therapists who work with aging populations.


Downstate Residents and Students Partner with the Police Athletic League to Address Community Health

photo of four people

Department of Family Medicine residents, led by Emily Laura Baumert, M.D., and Brooklyn Free Clinic medical students, led by MD/MPH candidate Maissa Trabilsy, participated in the Police Athletic League (PAL) Breukelen Cornerstone Houses Health Fair in March. Together with the NYPD and law enforcement community, PAL operates a range of programs for underserved and at-risk New York City youth.

Thank you to all who helped with the outreach activity, including Community Health Promotion and Wellness director Betty Jung, RN.


Octogenarian Knee Surgery – Age Not the Bar Many Believe

photo of Priscilla Varghese, MBA, MSCongratulations to Downstate medical student Priscilla Varghese, MBA, MS, for her presentation at the recent American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2022 Annual Meeting on total knee arthroplasty for those over 80 years old. Her study received widespread media attention.

Using a Medicare claims database, Ms. Varghese and her team analyzed implant-related outcomes for over 80-year old patients compared to those aged 65 to 79. The team found that the risk of adverse effects for those over 80 was no different from those 10 to 15 years younger.

The findings provided good news for older adults looking for surgical solutions to knee problems - a group likely to increase as patients live longer and to maintain active lives.

Second Annual SOHP Virtual Career and Networking Event

For the past two years, the School of Health Professions (SOHP) has provided opportunities for its students and alumni to network with employers. On March 24, SOHP dean and professor Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC, welcomed healthcare providers, students, and alumni to SOHP’s second Virtual Career and Networking Event. Students and alumni from the six SOHP programs Diagnostic Medical Imaging, Medical Informatics, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant interacted with employers who represented their respective disciplines.

The event attracted recruiters and representatives from clinical sites, including Northwell Health, Volunteers of America, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services, Jag-One Physical Therapy, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Students were able to connect with people who could potentially provide job leads.


Shout Out to:

Patient Relations director and chief experience officer Wren Lester, Ph.D., for being recognized among Becker’s Hospital Review's Healthcare Chief Experience Officers to Know | 2022March 16, 2022


Downstate’s Residency Programs, for ranking as #3 on FREIDA’s list of “most-viewed” medical residency programs. FREIDA is the American Medical Association’s Residency & Fellowship database. In addition, our Internal Medicine residency program ranked #9, and our Family Medicine program ranked #8 among the most-viewed.


Medicine professor and Kidney Transplant medical director Mariana Markell, M.D., for being the featured medical expert on Hot Topics in Kidney Disease, a patient podcast series sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation. Click on the “Pregnancy and Kidney Disease” episode to hear Dr. Markell’s advice for pregnant women with kidney disease, those planning a pregnancy, or those who are pre-or post-transplant. 


Accelerated BS in Nursing Program director and associate professor Jean McHugh, Ph.D., R.N., APRN, ACNS-BC, FNYAM, for being elected to the national membership committee of the Eastern Nursing Research Society.


Medicine and Cell Biology research professor Edward V. Quadros, Ph.D., for contributing a chapter on the behavioral profile of vitamin B-12 deficiency to Elsevier’s March 2022 online book series, Vitamins and Hormones.  


Department of Medicine professor, assistant dean for Clinical Education, and Essentials of Clinical Medicine Programs director Sheldon H. Landesman, M.D., who was quoted in the March 1, 2022 edition of the New York Times New York Today newsletter.


Pediatrics assistant professor Thomas Wallach, M.D., Epidemiology and Biostatistics assistant professor Janet Rosenbaum, Ph.D., and Pediatrics Gastroenterology fellow Kenny Castro Ochoa, M.D., for a multi-institutional study on the “Epidemiologic Assessment of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Presentation in NYC during COVID-19.” The study, involving four institutions, found a statistically significant increase in Crohn’s disease evident approximately six months after the initial COVID wave, suggesting a linkage between SARS-nCoV2 infection rates and subsequent pediatric IBD presentation.




In case you missed it...

Here are our Editor’s Picks 

The New York Times

Featuring: President Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MPH, MBA, MACP

Covid Vaccination Rates Lag for NYC Kids. Will Shots at School Help? – March 23, 2022


The Washington Post

Featuring: Graduate Medical Education and Affiliations associate dean Teresa Y. Smith, M.D., MSEd, FACEP

Black Adult Hospitalizations Reached a Pandemic High During the Omicron Wave, CDC Study Finds – March 19, 2022


Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today

Featuring: Ophthalmology associate professor Allison Rizzuti, M.D. (author)

Fundamentals in Five Column - Strategies for Managing a Torn Anterior Capsule – March 2022



Featuring: Dermatology associate professor Jared Jagdeo, M.D., MS

How to Avoid Getting a Rash from Your Fitness Tracker – March 16, 2022


Doc Wire News – Cardio Nerds

Featuring: Cardiac Fellows Eric Kupferstein, M.D., and Gautham Upadhya, M.D., and Medicine /Cardiology professor Alan Feit, M.D.

Cardio Nerds Case Report: Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: An Iatrogenic Left to Right Cardiac Shunt – SUNY Downstate  (podcast) – March 20, 2022


Must See Downstate TV…


SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Match Day 2022

Congratulations to our graduating College of Medicine students on Match Day!


SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University – Student Health Center Ribbon Cutting

The Student Health Service serves the health needs of the students of SUNY Downstate. In addition, it provides routine health clearance and emergency care for several thousand Downstate Health Sciences University employees. It is located at 440 Lenox road, Apartment 1S.


Women's History Month

Celebrating our two senior-most women executives at Downstate.

Patricia A. Winston, DNP, MS, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE



Heidi J. Aronin, MPA



Doctor's Day 2022!

Celebrating our phenomenal Downstate doctors.  


World Social Work Day 

We celebrated World Social Work Day by highlighting Gina Jean-Baptiste, LCSW and her ongoing social work and commitment to the immediate Downstate community here in Brooklyn and beyond.


AOA ETA Chapter of New York Annual Lecture 2022

The induction of new students, house staff, faculty, and alumni. With a keynote by Office of Diversity Education and Research associate dean Carla Boutin-Foster, M.D., MSc.


Downstate Karaoke!

Karaoke City at Downstate! 



Save the Date…


National Minority Health Month. This year's theme is Give Your Community a Boost! 


Celebrate National Occupational Therapy Month 


SUNY Global Center for Climate Inclusive Clinical Research: Inter-professional Engagement and Training around Climate and Health Equity Symposium

Tuesday, April 5, 2022


Annual Graduate Day Keynote Lecture

Wednesday, April 6, 2022


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