SUNY Chancellor Launches Expansion of 2023 Pre-Medical Opportunity Program at Downstate Health Sciences University

Jul 14, 2023

Comprehensive Program Supports Students in Pursuit of Medical School, Expands with $1M NYS Investment from Empire State Development

Chancellor King Met With Students and Their Mentors Throughout SUNY's Hospitals

Brooklyn, NY  State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today celebrated the 2023 Pre-Medical Opportunity Program and launched its expansion with a visit to Downstate Health Sciences University where the summer session was being held for students pursuing careers in medicine.

The Pre-Medical Opportunity Program was created to help more Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students get into SUNY's medical universities, thereby helping to solve persistent income disparities found among the nation's medical schools—where about two thirds of students come from families within the top two quintiles of family income.

The program starts each year with a summer session at one of SUNY's hospitals, and provides participants with academic support, mentorship opportunities, clinical exposure, assistance with MCAT preparation, and workshops. This year's program was held at Downstate Health Sciences University in conjunction with the Exploring Health Careers program (EHC). EHC provides early exposure to the health professions and health sciences careers training programs offered at Downstate. The program is uniquely designed for both students who are interested in various health professions and those who are yet undecided about their specific field of interest.

The Pre-Medical Opportunity Program has expanded through a $1 million New York State investment from Empire State Development two years in a row. The funding supports a third class of 15 new students to the program and extends the length of the summer session from one to four weeks. This year's summer program also includes exposure to a wider range of health professionals, provides more extensive clinical experience, and engages students in research projects. During the academic year, students from all three classes will receive more targeted advising, tutoring, workshops, and shadowing opportunities. Faculty engagement will be expanded to include guided research opportunities.

Chancellor King was joined by Downstate Health Sciences University President Wayne J. Riley, MD, as well as mentors from SUNY's hospitals, and administrators of the program. He also met with students within the Summer Program in Translational Disparities and Community Engagement Research (SPRINTER) Program, which provides undergraduate students with research experiences in basic science, public health, and community-based research emphasizing health disparities.

"The Pre-Medical Opportunity Program improves diversity in the health professions by addressing persistent income disparities among the nation's medical schools. SUNY's program provides a real opportunity for better representation and stronger patient care when these amazing students enter the medical field," said SUNY Chancellor King. "Pre-Med EOP students represent the future of medicine in an industry in which diverse representation is lacking. Thanks to the support of the Governor and Empire State Development, this expansion will allow SUNY to provide more students opportunities to enter the healthcare field."

SUNY Downstate President Riley said, "The Pre-Medical Opportunity Program opens doors for students who wish to pursue careers as physicians and other healthcare professionals but lack the experiential learning, academic, and other support needed for their ultimate success. We applaud Chancellor King and Empire State Development for their strong commitment to underrepresented students, ensuring a diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce that can effectively address the needs of these communities. SUNY Downstate is proud to contribute to the growth and development of these future healthcare professionals."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "ESD is pleased to support SUNY's Pre-Medical Opportunity Program. Access to quality health care is important to all New Yorkers, and expanding opportunities to those who feel that advanced degrees in these fields are out of reach not only brings better services to communities across the state, it gives a wider variety of students the promise of rewarding careers and a brighter future."

Former Pre-Medical Opportunity Program Student Bri'ajah'nae Hymes, DPT, said, "The Pre-Medical Opportunity Program was a life-changing experience. I made amazing connections and lifelong friendships."

As part of the expansion of the program, Pre-Medical Opportunity Program students are paired with a faculty member from a similar background as a mentor throughout their time in the program. Students remain in the program up until they enroll in medical school. Mentors this year include:

University at Buffalo:

  • James N. Jarvis, MD; David A. Milling, MD; Geovanny F. Perez, MD

Downstate Health Sciences University:

  • Roosevelt Boursiquot, MD, MPHIL; Inci Dersu, MD; Ramon E. Gist, MD, FAAP; Christina Guillen, MD; Crystal Marquez, MD; Loraine Antonie, DPT; Jasmin Thomas, OTD; Krystal Brewington, OTD; Puneet Dhaliwal, DPT

SUNY College of Optometry

  • Joy Harewood, OD, FAAO, Dipl, ABO; Sweta Das, OD; Quy H. Nguyen, OD

Stony Brook University

  • Sahar Ahmad, MD; Farah Daccueil, MD, MS; Glennis Mercedes Alvarado, MD; Kaveh Sadigh, MD

SUNY Upstate Medical University

  • Runa Acharya, MD; Andy Weinberg, DO; Andrea Shaw, MD

Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, and the state's only college of optometry. Students attending this program represent nine campuses.

The Pre-Med Opportunity Program, which launched at Upstate Medical University in the summer of 2021 with 23 students, is a partnership between SUNY's Office of Opportunity Programs and its medical universities—Downstate Health Sciences University, the SUNY College of Optometry, Stony Brook University and Upstate Medical University. Most students participating in this summer program are part of the Pre-Medical Opportunity Program at SUNY.

The multi-component and interprofessional Exploring Health Careers program includes: didactic sessions on health disparities, faculty presentations, shadowing opportunities, anatomy lectures and hands-on training, community service, and field trips that innovatively blend the arts with science. Additionally, students learn about navigating the application processes to health professions schools and graduate science programs. The day-to-day activities are led by three co-directors who are current students at Downstate. Students receive mentorship from the co-directors as well as other Downstate students and faculty.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

See Chancellor King’s introductory remarks here.