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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

School of Public Health

Alumni Spotlight

George KoutsourasGeorge W. Koutsouras, DO, MPH, MS

Hometown: Douglaston, New York

Degree(s), Concentration, and Class Year at SUNY Downstate: MPH, Epidemiology, Class of 2012

Undergraduate Major: Biology

Current Profession: Neurosurgery Resident Physician at SUNY Upstate University Hospital

Community involvement: Member of local church parish


Award(s) Received:

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY:

Gold Humanism Honor Society ● Sigma Sigma Phi, Omega Chapter, National Osteopathic Medicine Honors Fraternity ● Psi Sigma Alpha, Iota Chapter, National Osteopathic Honor Society

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY:

Beta Iota Chapter, Delta Omega, National Honorary Society in Public Health, 2012 ● Rose Jackman Award for Community Service, 2012 ● The Alicia and Madu Rao MD Family Foundation Scholarship, 2012

New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY

Lenwood S. Cochran Scholarship Award, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, 2012 ● Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Award (for 150+ hours of Volunteer Service), 2012 ● Valerie Sanfrantello NYIT Service and Leadership Award, 2010 ● Tau Kappa Epsilon Leadership Academy XXII Graduate, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, 2008


1. Why did you choose to study at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health (SPH)? Did SPH meet your expectations?

During my undergraduate studies, I fell in love with the idea of combining an expertise in population-based health care with individual-based health care. I heard about SUNY Downstate’s SPH from a close friend and applied. It was close to my family, it was in the great borough of Brooklyn, and it had all the tools I needed to build a career in public health. The two years at Downstate were some of the best years of my life. The faculty were not only my mentors, they became my peers and colleagues. They taught me valuable lessons and gave me opportunities to succeed. I spent the second year of my studies there being the President of the Student Council. It was a phenomenal year.


2. What was the most memorable experience or advice you received during your time at SPH that struck you as particularly meaningful?

My greatest experience during my time at the SPH was completing my thesis experience. The year before starting at Downstate, I was able to visit Ghana to work in a rural based clinic. I wanted to focus on my master’s epidemiological project that could be based at that clinic. The school allowed me to take advantage of those ideas. At the time, Dr. Elizabeth Helzner was my concentration mentor. On numerous accounts, she gave me the direction and advice I needed to make the project everything I wanted it to be.


3. Which SPH community member (e.g. faculty, staff, mentor, fellow classmates) influenced you the most and why?

Dr. Paul Landsbergis was a mentor, a colleague and until this day a friend. For almost two years, I worked with Dr. Landsbergis performing work study research in occupational health. He allowed me to put my epidemiology and statistics knowledge to the test. Through this work I have two extremely worthwhile literature publications. These publications were the first to my name. It was very easy to see how passionate he was about his work. He exemplified what it means to love what you do.


4. Where has life taken you since you graduated from SPH? How has your experience at Downstate SPH prepared you for your career?

Since Downstate, I have graduated osteopathic medical school and have started neurosurgery residency. I graduated with a second masters that I received concurrently with my medical degree. I am currently in my third year of seven-year residency training. Downstate SPH gave me the knowledge I yearned for back in college. Being able to design and implement a research project, perform the statistical analysis of nearly any research projects and critically review research articles are still this day highly useful tools. 


5. Could you describe your current profession? What is the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of your profession?

I am a neurosurgery resident physician at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. Learning to be able to perform neurosurgery is the greatest privilege of my life. It is the most rewarding part of my job. Each and every day, I get to take care of patients who are faced with some of the most challenging circumstances in all of medicine. Striving to be the best person and surgeon for them will forever be my greatest challenge.


6. What advice do you have for prospective students?

Things happen in life for a reason, so take advantage of every opportunity to learn or grow.


7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I will have graduated from neurosurgery residency. Hopefully I will be in a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship, on my way to an academically productive career. On a personal note, I hope to have built a family with Tara, my lovely wife. 



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