SUNY Health Sciences Institutions Announce Partnership to Expand Access to Education in Public Health in New York

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Feb 17, 2022

NEW YORK, NY – SUNY College of Optometry and SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University (Downstate) announced a partnership to establish public health educational and research programs on the SUNY College of Optometry’s 42nd Street campus. This partnership will allow SUNY College of Optometry and SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health to expand access to public health degree programs while creating collaborative research opportunities examining health care disparities and access, particularly in the area of eye and vision care. 

Downstate’s School of Public Health will occupy approximately 3,000 sq. ft. of space at SUNY Optometry’s mid-town campus supporting educational and research activities, as well as faculty and administrative offices. This partnership creates a new opportunity for students and faculty across programs to collaborate on both educational programs and through public health research, as well as provides opportunities for more New York City area residents to pursue a public health degree.

“I am pleased to welcome SUNY Downstate to our campus to establish this one-of-a-kind extension site program bringing together the talents of the best public health and optometry faculty and students at our 42nd Street location,” said David A. Heath, OD, EdM., President of SUNY College of Optometry. “We look forward to working with the leadership and faculty of SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health to create comprehensive and unique educational opportunities for not only our students, alumni and faculty but the public at large.”

“This is a great opportunity to expand the SUNY footprint and its commitment to interdisciplinary learning,” said Wayne J. Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “This unique partnership with SUNY Optometry goes hand-in-hand in collaborations with our School of Public health goal of seeking different perspectives for understanding and managing health challenges in communities such as the ones that we serve at Downstate.”

Downstate’s School of Public Health vision is to lead the way to urban health equity in New York and beyond and its mission is to improve the health status of urban and marginalized populations, by training the next generation of diverse public health leaders, conducting practice changing research, and enhancing public health interventions that transforms the implementation of policy to create healthy communities. 

“Interdisciplinary Collaboration is one of our school’s values, and we’re thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with our neighbor, SUNY College of Optometry, while also expanding our unique program’s reach and access to vital services beyond our home base in Brooklyn,” said Dr. Kitaw Demissie, Dean and Professor at SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health.

SUNY College of Optometry serves a wide range of communities, supporting nearly 240,000 patient visits through both the University Eye Center situated on the 42nd Street campus and its network of clinical affiliates located throughout the tristate area. SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University serves the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn’s residents through their world-class academic teaching facilities. Through this collaboration, SUNY Optometry and SUNY Downstate will reach residents in each of the five boroughs of New York City.

The program is set to open in the fall semester.


Contact: Dawn Rigney

About SUNY Optometry

Founded in 1971 and located in New York City, the State University of New York College of Optometry is a leader in education, research, and patient care, offering the Doctor of Optometry degree as well as MS and PhD degrees in vision science. The College conducts a robust program of basic, translational and clinical research and has 65 affiliated clinical training sites as well as an on-site clinic, the University Eye Center.  SUNY Optometry is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; its four-year professional degree program and residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. All classrooms, research facilities and the University Eye Center, which is one of the largest optometric outpatient facilities in the nation, are located on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. To learn more about SUNY Optometry, visit


Contact: Dawn S. Walker
917.439.9666 | 347.533.2071

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn's 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate's teaching hospital, backed by an outstanding medical school's expertise and world-class academic center research facilities. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs—Downstate also sponsors a major learning center for young children with developmental disorders and disabilities. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.