Salvatore Volpe, MD ’86, to Receive National PCMH Practice Award



The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative annually honors three distinguished primary care champions from across the country that have dedicated their careers to promoting advanced primary care and the patient-centered medical home.

Salvatore Volpe, MD ’86, will receive the Patient-Centered Medical Home Practice Award for outstanding dedication to promoting a coordinated health care system that achieves improved quality and access at lower costs during the PCPCC Annual Fall Conference November 9-11, 2016, in Washington DC.

Dr. Volpe’s unparalleled commitment to improving care is evident in how he created a patient-focused environment within his medical practice, as well as his relentless work as a physician champion in promoting the use of electronic health records and health information technology for quality improvement, according to the PCPCC.
“Dr. Volpe has been a passionate advocate for the Patient-Centered Medical Home delivery care model from the very beginning – he was the first solo practice in New York state and thereafter in the United States to receive a Level 3 PCMH recognition, and he has taken an innovative approach in redefining roles and responsibilities to improve access and communication,” said Jill Hummel, president of Anthem’s plan in Connecticut and incoming board chair for the PCPCC. “And he did all of this with his characteristic humility, driven solely by the desire to improve the health of his patients.”

Founded in 2006, the PCPCC is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to advancing an effective and efficient health care system built on a strong foundation of primary care and the patient-centered medical home (PCMH). The PCPCC achieves its mission through the work of its executive members, experts, thought leaders, and other stakeholders focused on key issues of delivery reform, payment reform, patient engagement, and benefit design to drive health system transformation. For more information, or to become an executive member, visit


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Mark Stewart MD, PhD ’91, Named SUNY Downstate Interim Provost


Dr. Mark Stewart was named Interim Provost for SUNY Downstate on August 18, 2016.  

From Michael Lucchesi, MD, Downstate Officer in Charge and Chief Medical Officer:

Dr. Stewart, who currently serves as dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Vice Dean for Research, is an accomplished academician, researcher, and administrator with proven leadership skills and a deep understanding of both Downstate and SUNY academic strengths and regulations.

Dr. Stewart is widely respected by faculty and leadership from all of the campus’ schools, demonstrated in part by his nomination to SUNY administration as a candidate for officer-in-charge. He is also widely respected by SUNY and Research Foundation leadership, having served in multiple capacities, including as a founding co-champion of the SUNY Networks of Excellence.

As Interim Provost, Mark will work closely with my office and with Downstate’s academic leaders to envision and strategically plan academic programming, as well as maintain excellence in academic services, scholarship, and research. In this position, Mark will also serve as campus liaison with SUNY on academic matters.

Dr. Stewart received his MD and PhD degrees in 1991 from Downstate. His PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship were in neuroscience, and his current research is focused on the systemic consequences of epileptic seizure activity including sudden death. His lab has developed a unique animal model that has permitted arguably the most complete understanding of autonomic, cardiovascular, and respiratory pathophysiology during seizures and suggested the mechanism for sudden death in epilepsy. This work has led to the development of several technologies to prevent death or resuscitate patients, including a vagus nerve stimulation-based cardioverter/defibrillator that received funding from SUNY’s Technology Accelerator Fund.

Dr. Stewart joined the Physiology faculty in 1994 and was promoted through the ranks in Physiology and Physiology & Pharmacology to a tenured professor in 2008. He was appointed Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Vice Dean for Research in 2009. He has played major roles in establishing an MD/PhD Program in Nanomedicine with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, a PhD Track in Developmental Neuroscience in partnership with the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities in Staten Island, and numerous other research training and pipeline programs with area universities, including the first major research training grant for CUNY Medgar Evers College.

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Orientation First Impressions: Meet 3 New SUNY Downstate Med Students

T better betterTamasha Persaud

Undergrad college or university:
I went to Vassar College for undergrad where I majored in Political Science and minored in Chemistry.


Potential specialty:
I haven’t decided what specialty I would like to go into, but Cardiology is one that I have been considering.

What inspired you to study medicine?
It’s hard to pinpoint a singular moment or experience that inspired my decision to study medicine. Growing up I remember being fascinated by the human body and how it worked. Something as mundane the healing of the scrapes on my knee a week after falling off my bike was captivating to me. So I guess I can say that my interest in medicine began before I could articulate it as such; it began with a curiosity about how the body works, how it is able to carry out a multiplicity of functions which keep us alive without us constantly being made aware of it. Moreover, seeing the debilitating effects of our body’s betrayal—when it stops working as it should, and the implications that had for quality of life, especially in communities deprived of adequate health care services, cultivated a sense of indignation which informed my decision to study medicine.

How is your family handling the fact that you’re in med school now?
My family and friends are proud, extremely supportive and excited for me.

Nick SantanielloNick Santaniello

Undergrad college or university:
I went to Georgetown University and studied Human Science.

I consider Staten Island, NY my hometown. 

Potential specialty:
I am undecided about my medical specialty.

How did you choose Downstate?
I chose downstate because I wanted to be in New York City. Brooklyn specifically offers such a diverse patient population, yet isn’t far from my home borough of Staten Island.

How does it feel to actually start med school?
Now that I am here starting medical school, I’m excited and quite a bit nervous. I know the path that lies ahead will be difficult but rewarding, and I’m looking forward to it.

Stan SorokaStan Soroka

Undergrad college or university:
I attended Union College in Schenectady, NY and completed a major in biochemistry and a minor in economics.

My hometown is Far Rockaway, NY, but I have lived most of my life in Valley Stream, NY.

Potential specialty:
I am not sure yet, but I have specifically considered anesthesiology or emergency medicine.

How did you choose Downstate?
I chose Downstate because of all of the people that I met during my different visits while I was applying. I also really like how collegial all of the faculty and students are, and how well the program prepares its students for residency.

Do you have any “medical heroes?”
No medical heroes come to mind, but I definitely have to consider my parents and grandparents as heroes for coming to the US (from Kiev, Ukraine) and providing me with everything I needed to be able to succeed and achieve going to medical school.

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White Coat Ceremony Inducts 190 Downstate Doctors-in-Training

The SUNY Downstate Class of 2020 put on their white coats and took the Hippocratic Oath Thursday, August 4 in Alumni Auditorium. The annual White Coat Ceremony is made possible by alumni giving.


incoming 2020 class graphic

Watch the ceremony, here!

up front

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two guys MD character

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Devon John, MD appointed SUNY Downstate Interim Chair of Surgery


Dr. John was recruited to Downstate in August 2010, and has served as chief of transplantation surgery. He completed his residency and a research fellowship at SUNY Downstate from 1988-1995, and then completed a joint Downstate/NYU fellowship in kidney and liver transplant surgery from 1995-1997. Afterward, he accepted a faculty appointment at NYU. He was appointed director of kidney and pancreas transplantation in 2006.

“Dr. John is a committed educator and an exemplar of service leadership,” according to Carlos N. Pato, MD, Dean of the College of Medicine. ” Dr. John serves on numerous local, statewide, national, and international medical and policy committees. He has also been involved in the development of (and performance of) kidney donor and transplant procedures in his native country of Trinidad. Dr. John’s interests in organ transplantation include increasing minority access to organ and tissue transplantation, living donation, MRI usage in evaluating kidney function, and the impact of spirituality on outcomes in organ transplantation.”

Dr. Douglas Lazzaro, professor and chair of ophthalmology and vice dean for clinical affairs, is recognized for his “assistance in leading the Department of Surgery through this transition. In his role as vice dean, Dr. Lazzaro will be a resource for Dr. John, and he will also continue to chair the search committee for a new chair of surgery.”

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Ayman Fanous, MD Appointed Downstate Chair of the Department of Psychiatry

anyan fanous

The appointment, effective August 1, followed an international search, with a special focus on the confluence of psychiatry and the field of genomics conducted in the context of a cluster recruitment model, “seeking to advance Downstate’s stature in the burgeoning field of genomic health,” according to Carlos N. Pato, MD
Dean of the College of Medicine.

A committee of nine diverse faculty from within and without the department searched for the best candidate for chair, and the best scientific match for the existing talent at Downstate, and a similarly-focused search for a new chair of cell biology supported by the New York State’s Empire Innovation Fund.

Dr. Fanous is qualified to lead the Department of Psychiatry and contribute to genomics research at Downstate. He is currently a staff psychiatrist and chief of the psychiatric genetics research program at the Washington VA Medical Center, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fanous has broad and deep experience in both clinical and research education and training. This has encompassed a wide range of trainees and activities, including medical student lectures and electives, clinical supervision of psychiatric residents, and research training of residents, PhD candidates, and post-docs in Human Genetics, as well as junior faculty, including being the primary mentor to one K01 awardee.

Dr. Fanous received his medical training at New York University (living in Brooklyn at the time) and worked in multiple New York HHC hospitals.  He is deeply familiar with and appreciative of the complex and diverse cultural and social milieu of the city, and he has long-standing professional relationships with local physicians at Downstate, the New York Veterans Administration, and other institutions. Dr. Fanous will maintain his VA appointment, now through New York, and will strengthen Downstate’s relationship with this important affiliate.

Dr. Fanous is a distinguished statistical geneticist, having conducted his post-doctoral training in psychiatric genetics with Drs. Ken Kendler and Michael Neale at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He has successfully competed for federal research funding as a Principal Investigator since 2002 and he is an author on 113 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research has enabled him to make important contributions to our current knowledge of the genetic basis of psychiatric illness, especially schizophrenia. Dr. Fanous’ work dovetails extremely well with Downstate’s Institute for Genomic Health, in which he will serve as a senior investigator.

“We believe the recruitment of Dr. Ayman Fanous is a great success and will lead to greater growth in our Department of Psychiatry, much closer integration with our Kings County partner, and significant extramural research support in the area of genomics,” according to Dr. Pato. “We invite you to join us in welcoming him to our academic community.”

“We also recognize and express our appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Stephen Goldfinger, Distinguished Service Professor and current Chair of Psychiatry, for his years of service as a faculty member and departmental leader. Dr. Goldfinger has made an immense contribution to our institution and the field and we are delighted that he will continue to serve as a senior member of our faculty in the years to come.”

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Photo: Georgetown University

SUNY Downstate Welcomes Class of 2020

orientation rings

The Class of 2020’s 190 students hail from 15 states and 69 different undergraduate colleges and universities, according to the Admissions Office. The newly minted med students toured Downstate Monday, Aug. 1, met administrators, and queued up for information on everything from photo IDs and financial aid to scrubs.

better orientation



M. Monica Sweeney, MD ’75, MPH
Medical Alumni Association President
Clinical Professor and Chair
Department of Health Policy and Management

Alumni Auditorium, August 1, 2016, addressing the Class of 2020
I’m very happy to be able to welcome you on behalf of the Alumni Association. The Alumni Association is really very important. We work to support you through your four years. And then, I ask you to support the Alumni Association so we can pay it forward.

Without you becoming a member of the Alumni Association, the functions that we support will not continue. So, what are they? We support summer internships abroad. We support travel to attend conferences. We support research. And all of that is possible because graduates come back, and give to the Alumni Association. We also support an activity that you will happily take part in, the White Coat Ceremony.

We also support an overseas elective, and just had our students come back from the overseas elective from the School of Public Health, and many of them say its the best elective of their four years.So, there are many reasons to support the Alumni Association. But, the minute you graduate, I want you to send your name in to us, so we can stay in touch with you.

Congratulations to all of you. You look a lot different than when we interviewed you. You sound a lot happier. (Laughter.) Together we’re going to have a great four years. Let’s support each other. Thank you.

rainy downstate

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