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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Department of Otolaryngology

State of the Department 2018

Image of the hammer boneRichard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, MBA
Distinguished Professor, Chairman, and Program Director

The 2017-2018 academic year marked the 27th anniversary of the Department of Otolaryngology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center and affiliated hospitals.

Formed initially from existing services at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB), the current academic structure for resident and medical student education includes affiliations with Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC), Maimonides Medical Center, SUNY at Bay Ridge Ambulatory Surgery Center (SUNY Bay Ridge), New York Presbyterian – Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (NYP-BMH), Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital (MEETH), and Lenox Hill Hospital. We ended our long-term affiliation with the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) in July 2018 to take advantage of enhanced training opportunities at Lenox Hill and MEETH.

The past year was marked by continued success and excellence in research, teaching, and clinical care.  Our residency program is fully ACGME accredited with commendation and no citations, and all of our graduates continue to secure a top choice in employment or fellowship training. We maintain a diverse palate of basic, clinical, and translational research supported by national, state, and institutional grants.  Our clinical and audiological services are more robust and bountiful than ever and the clinicians providing them continue to grow professionally with academic awards and promotions.  Please read on for a full description of other noteworthy accomplishments.


Every year I try to find one word that reflects the state of our department and the one that jumps to the forefront is “opportunity.”  Defined by Merriam-Webster as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something,” this word perfectly describes our current situation in the wonderful borough of Brooklyn, which might aptly be called the “land of opportunity.”

Downstate Medical Center is an educational powerhouse, boasting five colleges – medicine, nursing, public health, graduate studies, and health-related professions – that are the main suppliers of healthcare professionals in NY State.  The College of Medicine is a jewel in the 64-campus SUNY system, rated #11 in the country as producing academic faculty. Our own academic faculty are blessed with a referral base of 2.6 million Brooklyn inhabitants and another 500,000 in Staten Island, who often cross the Verrazano Bridge for their health care services.

Our competitive advantage in the Brooklyn otolaryngology market comes from comprehensive services, fellowship-trained faculty, a top-notch residency training program, strategically located faculty practice sites, affiliations with diverse institutions, and a 30-year record of excellence in care, while promoting access through near-universal insurance participation.  These advantages allow us to leverage long-standing relationships with UHB, KCHC, and Maimonides Medical Center, and to profit from new relationships with NYP-BMH and Lenox Hill-MEETH.

I am more convinced than ever that our cross-institution relationships are what make us strong, allowing us to nimbly navigate change, and provide bountiful opportunity.  Our resident physicians have benefited greatly from head and neck surgery at Lenox Hill, and from otologic and sinus surgery at MEETH, experiencing not only robust volume but unique and complex cases.  Our faculty have benefited from access to a Park Slope office as part of our NYP-BMH affiliation, which has new potential effective July 2018 as our residents return full-time to the site with a 5-year affiliation contract.  Opportunities for ambulatory surgery abound at SUNY Bay Ridge and Maimonides Medical Center, with an additional new ambulatory facility under construction at NYP-BMH.

A final exciting opportunity is the One Brooklyn Health System (OBHS), approved by the NYS Department of Health co-operate Brookdale Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.  The governor of NYS has awarded $664 million to combine these hospitals and their governed affiliates into a sustainable, quality integrated health system, including a 32-site ambulatory care network.  SUNY Downstate will be the main provider of academic and specialty medical services to OBHS, creating unique opportunities for all providers and for UHB to become more of a tertiary facility for complex care.  Several Downstate departments have already integrated with OBHS and opportunities will undoubtedly continue to arise as the system develops and diversifies.

Opportunity can also bring uncertainty and challenge, but our department has the resources, talent, and leadership to thrive in whatever environment may come.  I look forward to sharing new developments in the Land of Opportunity with you in future annual updates.

Giving Back to Our Community

We relish the opportunities offered to us in Brooklyn and give back to our community by providing quality care that spans the panoply of ENT services and facilitates patient access through diverse practice sites, comprehensive insurance participation, and opportunities for uninsured patients at UHB and KCHC.  We further serve our community with daily teaching of residents and medical students, many of whom remain in the New York metropolitan region and further contribute to the region’s health and well-being.  Here are some brief updates on our primary clinical services:

Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery has shown continued excellence through the leadership of Sydney Butts, Stefan Mlot, and Richard Westreich, with additional coverage by Konstantin Tarashansky.  The division covers all aspects of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, including maxillofacial trauma, cosmetic procedures, microvascular free tissue transfer, and reconstruction of complex defects of the head, neck, and related structures. 

Head, neck, and skull-base surgery remains a focal point of our department under the leadership of Krishnamurthi Sundaram, Natalya Chernichenko, and Michael Weiss, with additional expertise provided by Gady Har-El, Jessica Lim, Victor Lagmay, Stefan Mlot, and voluntary faculty.  Our increasing collaboration at Lenox Hill with Peter Costantino, executive director of the NY Head and Neck Institute, has greatly enhanced our resident exposure to this subspecialty.

Otology and neurotology remain vibrant through the leadership of Matthew Hanson and Michal Preis, with contributions from other faculty.  The division offers comprehensive otologic services, ranging from ambulatory surgery to complex procedures with our neurosurgical colleagues. Significant progress was made on our new, state-of-the art, 8-station temporal bone laboratory, with anticipated completion in fall of 2018. Abraham Shulman continues to help patients worldwide cope with tinnitus, as one of the few full-time tinnitologists in clinical practice.

Pediatric Otolaryngology remains strong with leadership by Nira Goldstein and Richard Rosenfeld, and additional contributions by Sydney Butts, Paul Vastola, Ari Goldsmith, Mauro Ruffy, and voluntary faculty.  Anne Plum will join our full-time faculty in August 2018, bringing a wealth of experience from her fellowship at the University of North Carolina.  We offer a full spectrum of clinical services, including advanced airway reconstruction, voice restoration, endoscopic surgery, and rehabilitative services through our cleft team for children with cleft lip, cleft palate, microtia, velopharyngeal insufficiency, micrognathia, and craniofacial syndromes.

Laryngology and neurolaryngology are well covered under the leadership of Boris Bentsianov and Eli Regenbogen, with contributions from our pediatric otolaryngologists, head and neck surgeons, and voluntary faculty. A full range of operative and office interventions are available to improve voice-related quality of life for children, adults, vocal professionals, and head and neck cancer patients.

General otolaryngology, allergy, and rhinology continue to expand through the leadership of Marina Boruk, Victor Lagmay, Elliot Regenbogen, and many other faculty.  Procedures include advanced endoscopic sinus surgery, complex image-guided procedures, sialoendoscopy, and office balloon sinuplasty. Surgery for sleep disorders includes endoscopy, transnasal surgery, palatoplasty, stiffening procedures, and transoral robotic surgery.

Communicative disorders continues to grow through the efforts of John Weigand, Sal Saleh, and their relationships with training programs that supply a steady stream of audiology residents.  Patients with cochlear implants have been well served by our collaboration with the Auditory Oral School of New York, which provides state-of-the-art mapping and support services, including participation in our monthly cochlear implant team meeting.

Research, Education, and Teaching

Natalya Chernichenko organized the 13th Annual Frank E. Lucente Alumni and Resident Research Day program, featuring keynote speaker Lisa Ishii, from Johns Hopkins University, and alumni speaker Edward McCoul, from the Ochsner Health System in Louisiana.  Besides showcasing our resident and faculty research, our invited presentations included insights into facial paralysis and rhinology outcome assessment, plus an alumni panel discussion, coordinated by Boris Bentsianov, on managing your future practice.  Please review the full agenda later in this report for additional details and abstracts.

Our department was proud to host the 10th Annual NY City Pediatric Airway Symposium, featuring resident presentations for all otolaryngology training programs in the NY metropolitan area.  Course Director Nira Goldstein organized a fabulous academic program, with keynote speaker George Zalzal from Children’s National Medical Center.  The program was well received and attended, with resident awards for best presentations based on ratings of our moderators and judges.

Nira Goldstein continues as Director of Research and remains an incredible resource for navigating the intricacies of funding, IRB approval, and statistical analysis. Nira is assisted by Richard Kollmar, who serves as Director of Basic and Translational Research, and Richard Rosenfeld, who mentors residents in biostatistics, study design, and systematic review. In addition to many observational studies and systematic reviews, translational work is active on restoring recurrent laryngeal nerve function after injury, studying perineural invasion of head and neck cancer, and understanding the role of laryngospasm in epilepsy sudden death and pulmonary edema.  These, and other, projects are supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the State of New York, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and the Frank E. Lucente Resident Grant.

Nicole Fraser, our educational coordinator, remains an invaluable resource working with Richard Rosenfeld, program director, and Nira Goldstein, associate program director, to maintain a citation-free department that fully implements the ACGME Next Accreditation System. We submitted our 10-year Self Study Analysis and look forward to an upcoming site visit in 2019.  Sydney Butts continues to oversee our Grand Rounds program, including our pre-rounds session focused on resident issues and education.  The program has been notable for a new influx of invited speakers and joint sessions with other departments at SUNY Downstate.

Natalya Chernichenko directed the highly successful 8th Annual Multidisciplinary Head & Neck Symposium, which highlighted thyroid disease and surgery. Keynote speaker Kepal Patel, from NYU Langone Medical Center, discussed how molecular genetics is impacting our approach to thyroid surgery. The conference agenda appears later in this report and we remain grateful to Rivi and Gady Har-El for their kind support of the symposium.

Our residency training program remains fully accredited (with commendation) and continues to attract the best and brightest candidates with 100% successful attainment of desired employment or fellowship training by all graduates. We view our residency program as the centerpiece of our department, always striving to improve our responsiveness to the needs of residents and faculty.

Recognizing Our Faculty and Staff

Since our last report there have been many notable accomplishments, which are fully described in the pages that follow.  Some events worthy of particular emphasis, however, are listed below.


Notable Faculty Accomplishments

  • Sydney Butts received the Dr. Dale Blackstock Award from SUNY Downstate for excellence in teaching and service
  • Sydney Butts was co-chair of the scientific program of the AAFPRS Annual Meeting
  • Natalya Chernichenko was the faculty honoree for KCHC Doctor’s Day
  • Natalya Chernichenko was the course director for the Annual Head and Neck Symposium and the Frank E. Lucente Resident and Alumni Research Day
  • Nira Goldstein was the Faculty Honoree at the Graduating Residents & Fellows Event
  • Nira Goldstein was course director for the Annual NYC Pediatric Airway Symposium
  • Ari Goldsmith was the voluntary faculty honoree at the Resident Graduation Dinner
  • Stefan Mlot was the full-time faculty honoree at the Resident Graduation Dinner
  • Elliot Regenbogen was appointed to the AAO-HNS Simulation Education Committee
  • Richard Rosenfeld was appointed vice chair of the campus-wide SUNY Downstate Distinguished Academy Executive Committee
  • Richard Rosenfeld was appointed vice chair of the SUNY Distinguished Academy Executive Committee, which spans all 64 SUNY campuses and reports to the chancellor
  • Richard Rosenfeld founded the SUNY Downstate Ad Hoc Committee on Plant-based Health and Nutrition, working in conjunction with Borough President Eric Adams
  • Roman Shinder in the department of ophthalmology was granted a voluntary faculty appointment in otolaryngology at the associate professor level
  • Abraham Shulman celebrated a 60-year wedding anniversary, 40 years of service at KCHC, and 61 years of patient care in Brooklyn
  • Abraham Shulman was honored as a “leading figure in the field of tinnitus” in a spotlight editorial in Tinnitus Today highlighting his accomplishments and global collaboration
  • Mark Stewart – with coinvestigators Richard Kollmar, Krish Sundaram Joshua Silverman, and Daniel Sukato – was awarded a two-year, $160,000 NIH R03 grant for his project entitled “Seizure-induced Laryngospasm in Mice” to study sudden death in epilepsy

Notable Resident, Student, and Other Accomplishments

  • Anthony Alessi was the resident honoree for KCHC Doctor’s Day
  • Daniel Ballard presented on Socioeconomic Disparities in Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment and Survival at the 13th Annual Metropolitan NY Resident Research Day Symposium
  • Daniel Ballard was appointed to the AAO-HNS Implantable Hearing Devices Committee
  • George Ferzli matched in a facial plastics and reconstructive surgery fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital with Peter Constantino
  • Nicole Fraser was a co-recipient of the Program Coordinator of the Year Award at the Graduating Residents & Fellows Event
  • Rachel Irizarry, Daniel Sukato, and Ryan Tabtabai represented our department at the annual AAO-HNS Leadership Forum and BOG Spring Meeting
  • Lee Kaplowitz was the Resident Honoree at the Graduating Residents & Fellows Event
  • Christine Nichols was the staff honoree at the Resident Graduation Dinner
  • Ryan Tabtabai was awarded a Frank E. Lucente Research Grant for his research on vestibular dysfunction and comorbidities using the NHANES database
  • Daniel Sukato was awarded a Frank E. Lucente Research Grant for his research on seizure-induced laryngospasm in mice
  • Daniel Sukato presented on Survival Tracheostomy in Juvenile Mice at the 13th Annual Metropolitan NY Resident Research Day Symposium
  • Daniel Sukato was appointed to the AAO-HNS Trauma Committee and the Microvascular Committee
  • Alisa Timashpolsky was appointed to the AAO-HNS Implantable Hearing Devices Committee and the WIO Leadership Development and Mentorship Committee
  • Michael Weber received an award for Outstanding Medical Student Performance in Otolaryngology at the SUNY Downstate Convocation and Awards Ceremony

A Bright Future

We are delighted to welcome our three new PGY-1 residents, Rahul Gulati from Rutgers NJ Medical School, Hunter Hopkins from Louisiana State University, and Michael Weber, from SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

We are proud of our three departing chief residents and wish them health, happiness, and success. Jason Abramowitz joins a midtown Manhattan practice as part of ENT and Allergy Associates; Lee Kaplowitz begins his fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery under the direction of William Lawson at Mount Sinai Medical Center; and Nikita Kohli begins her fellowship in laryngology under the direction of Andrew Blitzer at Lenox Hill and MEETH.

Some of our staff have already been recognized, but let me close by thanking our administrative miracle workers, Billy Tang at SUNY Downstate, Carole Facciponti at NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, and Svetlana Lyulko and Veronica Ortiz at our Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope Faculty Practice sites.  Their efforts, along with all of our other talented support staff, help fulfill our mission of research, teaching, and patient care to the benefit of our community and all stakeholders.

I remain the perennial optimist regarding our department’s future because of the wonderful patients, faculty, staff, residents, and students we are blessed to interact with daily.  Moreover, Brooklyn remains one of the most exciting, diverse, and opportunity-laden locations on the planet. My pledge as chairman is to continue working tirelessly to embrace all opportunities and enhance an already wonderful department in an equally wonderful borough.


Respectfully submitted,


Dr. Rosenfeld's Signatire
Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH
July 2017



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