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[November 15, 2018]

SUNY Downstate Appoints New Dean of School of Public Health

Kitaw Demissie, M.D., Ph.D. and nationally-recognized public health leader brings four decades of academic and investigative experience

Exploring Health Careers Program
Kitaw Demissie, M.D., Ph.D. Photo: K. Demissie

BROOKLYN, NY—SUNY Downstate Medical Center today announced the appointment of Kitaw Demissie, M.D., Ph.D., as the next Dean of the School of Public Health. A nationally-recognized academic public health leader and researcher in the fields of health disparities and minority health, perinatal health, and cancer, who is committed to the success of young scientists, Dr. Demissie will officially join SUNY Downstate in early January 2019.

“Dr. Demissie is a highly-regarded public health professional, academic administrator, teacher, and mentor,” said SUNY Downstate Medical Center president Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “We are excited that he will join us and look forward to working with him in the School of Public health to further Downstate’s efforts at addressing challenging health disparities facing our communities.”

“I am eager to join a truly unique academic medical center where work in urban health and health disparities are valued and considered vital,” said Dean-Designee Demissie. “I look forward to working closely with School of Public Health students, faculty, and staff in charting its course that builds upon tradition and emerging strengths in order to take it to new heights."

In addition to his years of academic and investigative experience—including training at prestigious medical institutes such as Addis Ababa University, McGill University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the National Cancer Institute—Dr. Demissie has mentored over 100 physician and non-physician scientists and is the recipient of several Excellence in Teaching Awards. Dr. Demissie is currently the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at Rutgers University School of Public Health.

Dr. Demissie has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications in journals including Evidence Based Medicine and American Journal of Epidemiology. Dr. Demissie is also a nationally recognized investigator in molecular epidemiology, cancer disparities, cancer prevention and control, and population sciences.

The search for the Dean of the School of Public Health was conducted by a Committee chaired by Michael Joseph, Ph.D., MPH (Downstate SPH Faculty); Aimee Afable, Ph.D., MPH (SPH Downstate Faculty); Karen Benker, M.D., MPH (SPH Downstate Faculty); Jo Ivey Bufford, M.D., (NYU Faculty); Jeffrey Borer, M.D., FACC, FAHA (Downstate College of Medicine Faculty); Lori Escallier, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC, FAAN (Dean, Downstate College of Nursing); Ms. Maha Attieh, Health Program Manager of the Arab-American Family Support Center and Chair of Downstate SPH's Community Advisory Group, and students Garry Graham (Downstate SPH DrPH) and Priya Pasram (Downstate SPH DrPH).


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 376-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital is Downstate’s teaching hospital and is backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to University Hospital, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health-Related 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