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SUNY Downstate Recognized with Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program Awards for 2015

Brooklyn, NY – As recently announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and its University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) are among 12 academic health centers and teaching hospitals receiving 2015 Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program (ECRIP) Center Awards for the training of new clinical researchers working on cutting-edge biomedical research. In addition, Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC), SUNY Downstate’s neighboring affiliate, and Downstate faculty members have received an ECRIP Individual Award.

Both awards are for two years, with the Center Award totaling $1,260,336 and the Individual Award in the amount of $150,000. Individual Awards were given to 14 teaching hospitals in the state.

“I am greatly pleased that SUNY Downstate faculty members have been recognized with these highly competitive awards,” said John F. Williams, Jr., MD, EdD, MPH, FCCM, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

The theme of Downstate’s 2015 ECRIP Center Award is “Diabetes, Heart, and Kidney Disease in a Diverse Population of African Descent.” The project director is Moro Salifu, MD, MPH, MBA, FACP, professor and chair of medicine, and the co-project director is Mahmood Hussain, PhD, distinguished professor of cell biology. It is supported by a broadly based team that includes faculty members from the departments of medicine and cell biology and the School of Public Health.

“The constellation of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and end-stage renal disease is the most important health problem in our community,” said Dr. Salifu. “Guidelines in defining risk factors and determining therapeutic interventions are less conclusive for African Americans than whites and the mechanisms of these differences are not fully understood.”

This project will focus on whether disease-related biomarkers can enhance the effectiveness of risk-related guidelines in clinical management. The ECRIP fellows funded by this award will become the foundation of a new generation of academic faculty equipped for contemporary clinical research at a competitive grant-seeking level.

At Kings County Hospital Center, Richard Kollmar, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and assistant professor and director of basic research in otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate, is project director and Richard Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, professor and chair of otolaryngology, is co-project director. They will oversee research conducted by ECRIP Fellow Natalya Chernichenko, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, on how tumor cells invade intact nerves in the process known as perineural invasion, a devastating metastatic malignancy that affects some 20,000 new cancer patients a year in New York State alone.

The Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program was first established in 2000 by the New York State Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME) to enhance clinical research training of GME residents and graduates.  ECRIP was recently reconstituted to focus on single-theme awards that represent an area of growth with strategic importance to an institution and its community.


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.