Dr. James Cottrell Receives Leadership Award from the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health

Nov 1, 2016

Brooklyn, NY – James E. Cottrell, MD, Distinguished Service Professor and chair of anesthesiology and Garry S. and Sarah Sklar Professor in Anesthesiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, recently was honored with a 2016 Leadership Award at the 22nd Annual Black Tie and Sneakers Gala of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH). Dr. Cottrell is also a member-at-large of the New York State Board of Regents.

Each year the AAIUH honors individuals and organizations that are making significant contributions to urban communities in the areas of health, education, medical research, community service, and philanthropy. The funds raised at Sports Ball support the Institute’s innovative community health education programs and research initiatives. Arthur Ashe founded the Institute in 1992, just two months before his death from AIDS, in response to the disproportionate amount of illness and death in urban communities from preventable diseases.

In accepting the award, Dr. Cottrell noted that the AAIUH’s Health Science Academy, of which Dr. Cottrell has long been an admirer and which the Institute runs in cooperation with SUNY Downstate, aims to increase minority member participation in medicine “by offering under-represented middle and high school students exposure to the health science field, and extra help to become a doctor, nurse, or medical technician.”

“When Arthur died,” Dr. Cottrell explained, “African-Americans were about 13 percent of this nation, but they were only two to three percent of American physicians. The bad news is that those figures have changed very little. That’s what the Health Science Academy aims to fix.”

Dr. Cottrell has served on the medical staff of SUNY Downstate’s University Hospital of Brooklyn, Kings County Hospital Center, Lutheran Medical Center, New York University Hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center, and the former Long Island College Hospital. He also served as an associate professor of anesthesiology at New York University and until recently was senior vice president and dean for clinical practice at Downstate.

A past president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Dr. Cottrell was awarded that national organization’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 2010.

Dr. Cottrell is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology. As a clinician and researcher, he helped to found the subspecialty of neuroanesthesiology, a field of medicine that has refined and expanded clinical practice and increased patient safety. Dr. Cottrell has recently focused on preventing behavioral and cognitive abnormalities induced during surgery and anesthesia in the very young and the elderly. He authored the book, Under the Mask: A Guide to Feeling Secure and Comfortable During Anesthesia and Surgery,to help inform and allay the fears of patients scheduled for surgery. Dr. Cottrell has mentored over 700 anesthesiology residents, delivered more than 200 guest lectures, and served as a visiting professor at more than 120 medical schools around the world.

Dr. Cottrell served as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Doctors of the World and worked during the developing phase of the AIDS crisis with God’s Love We Deliver to prepare and deliver meals to homebound AIDS patients. He also helped found, and served as the chairman of the board of, the AIDS Action Foundation. While on sabbatical in 1987, he served as a health policy advisor to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy when Senator Kennedy was chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee, where he helped write the first AIDS non-discrimination legislation.

Dr. Cottrell received his medical degree from West Virginia University and did his postgraduate training and fellowship in Pittsburgh. He served as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy prior to joining the faculty of NYU.

For more information about the Sports Ball and a full list of the honorees, please visit:



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.