Alumni Celebrate the Holidays with Wine and Cheese at Downstate Dec. 15

Get ready for our next Alumni Association-College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate alumni reception in April! Make sure we have your updated contact information, and stay tuned for more information.


2.pngDr. Monica Sweeney, MD ’75, MPH (at right), presents Dr. Constance Shames, MD ’63 (left) with a gift for Dr. Shames’ work as editor of Alumni Today.



5.pngCollege of Medicine student Patrick Eucalitto talks about the alumni-supported Brooklyn Free Clinic.




Stay connected! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @DownstateAlumni.



Running Down a Dream: Downstate Students Marathon for the Free Clinic

SUNY Downstate students and supporters raise $21,000 during the New York Marathon to benefit the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic

From left to right, second-year medical student Mike Levine, first-year Katie Lee, Ben and Jim Naughton


When Ben Naughton was 10 or 11, he got the opportunity from his aunt Anne to make someone else’s life better. The late Dr. Anne Kastor, who helped found the Brooklyn Free Clinic, offered to donate to her nephew’s non-profit of choice for his birthday.

This was the dawn of Bionicle and PlayStation 2, and “birthday money” usually means gifts, but “she wanted me to research and find something I was passionate about for her to give to,” Ben said. “And so started the tradition where, every Christmas, I asked others, as well, not to give presents, but instead to donate. From that, and in the way she lived, she instilled in me, to put it simply, this idea of living to help others, especially those less fortune than you.”

The Alumni Association allocates money annually to the program run by SUNY Downstate students.

The $21,000 that Ben, his father Jim Naughton, and three Downstate med students raised will go toward covering prescription medication for the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s uninsured patients. The runners crowdfunded for the clinic on Crowdrise.

Ben, now 25 and an associate producer for CNN in Atlanta, ran as a member of the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s Marathon Team Nov. 6. It was his fourth marathon. He has run seriously since high school, and when “my dad and I found out we could combine two of our passions in running and non-profit work and for a place like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, it was a no-brainer.”

Ben’s aunt, Dr. Kastor, had been a primary care physician, a SUNY Downstate faculty member, and one of the founders of the clinic in 2006. She died of ovarian cancer at 49 in 2013.

“After her death, I thought what better way to honor her then to ask every year for people to give to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, a cause she was so passionate about,” Ben said.

The Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the Downstate campus January 4, 2017, but has operated at 840 Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn, since its inception. The clinic opens once a week to walk-in patients, many without insurance and from underserved communities.

Students from all of Downstate’s divisions, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, to Health Related Professions and Public Health, run the clinic together. It’s a hospital in miniature, and seems to feed the students’ passion for medicine and public health.

“I got to know about the clinic from Anne telling me about her involvement in during its early days,” Ben said. “And I would say we, in our immediate family, watched it as it came to be and grew up. Then when Anne died, I think it is this way when people die, especially, at a young age from something like cancer. This brought us all closer to everyone and everything that Anne touched. David Marcus, one of the students who started the Brooklyn Free Clinic, wrote a post about Anne, and what she meant to him and the clinic. I knew it before, but I really saw and heard, through that post, how passionate he and all the people at BFC are about what they are doing.”

In his remembrance, Ben Marcus, MD, wrote, “Anne was key to the development of the BFC. I know there was much more to her than this simple, minor act, but this is how we knew her. She was an amazing mentor to the leadership group. She was an inspiring clinician to all of the volunteers, and she reminded us that primary care is not dead. Even in this difficult practice environment, Dr. Kastor showed us, and taught us, the essential role that the primary care physician plays in her or his patients’ lives.” Read the rest of Ben Marcus’ tribute, here.

Ben finished the New York Marathon and gave his cousin, Holly, Anne’s young daughter, his medal. There are things more important than objects, like family, giving, and inspiring others to give.

“The Brooklyn Free Clinic is a place that is very near to my family’s heart, both because of Anne’s connection to it, and what it stands for in that way,” he said. “And also because of the amazing work that they do.”

Student Profiles: Mike Levine and Katie Lee

Katie Lee is a first-year Downstate medical student, a runner, and former collegiate pole-vaulter from her alma mater, the University of California, Santa Barbara. She went on to complete a master’s in Human Nutrition from Columbia University before enrolling at Downstate.

Do you have a specialty in mind?
I am really interested in emergency medicine, but as a first-year, I may fall in love with anything.

Have you run a marathon before?
It was my first marathon. I was a pole vaulter in college, but at the end of college I wanted to get involved in long distance running.

Have you gotten an opportunity to volunteer yet with the Brooklyn Free Clinic?
My work right now is very behind the scenes, though, I would love the opportunity to work within the clinic. What’s cool about it is, they say 98 percent of the students, med students at least, are involved in the clinic in some way.

How did it feel to support the clinic?
We’re able to be so sustainable, and to really have an impact in the community, and to provide every part of health care for free. It was really great to run the marathon and to support it.


Mike Levine, a second-year Downstate medical student, got into shape after college by training for a Spartan obstacle race in 2014, followed by a spate of races around New York, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2015. He is planning on a career in emergency medicine.

What is your “hometown?”
I’m originally from Central CT, near New Haven

Was your first marathon everything you thought it would be?
I only just ran my first half marathon in May. I had a lot of fun actually, and it was a beautiful day. I had very competitive goals for it, so I was pushing pretty hard, but nevertheless it was very fun seeing the thousands of supporters.

What was one moment of personal victory?
I pushed really hard during the last four miles. Because I did, I was able to run the second half of the race about one minute faster than the first (a ‘negative split’), which was goal #1 and I’m really proud about that. It validates the work I put into training. My goal was to run at an eight minute per mile pace, which I missed by about six minutes total, but I’m happier about getting the negative split.

What does the BFC mean to you? What did it mean to run, to benefit the clinic?
It’s an opportunity to do some good for this local community, for so many people who really don’t have a lot of stability or support in their lives. All the work I’ve been able to do for the clinic helps to reaffirm that I’m doing my best to be my best. The clinic has become a tremendously central aspect of the Downstate education. It is a place where students from the entire university come together to sharpen their clinical skills while also serving their community. Getting to interact and learn from older students is something I always look forward to. I look forward to devoting a lot more time and energy into making the clinic the best it can be.

Support the Brooklyn Free Clinic, med student scholarships and more.
Join and donate to the Alumni Association today!
New logo

The Student-Run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to Clarkson Avenue January 4

The Brooklyn Free Clinic is one of many programs supported in part by medical alumni

Photo courtesy of SUNY Downstate

The student-run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the University Hospital of Brooklyn January 4, 2017, on the SUNY Downstate campus, after a decade at its first home, UHB Health Associates at 840 Lefferts Avenue. The clinic had borrowed the office space after hours.

The new location, Suite A on the first floor near the University Hospital entrance, is already a working clinic, but was also available to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, 5 pm to 7 pm, Wednesdays. The difference is that BFC patients will now be closer to a larger health network if they need a referral or emergency care, said Shifra Mincer, second-year Downstate medical student, and BFC communications officer.

Read about the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s recent New York Marathon fundraiser

The location is also more convenient for student and physician volunteers coming from class or work, she said. This may encourage more doctors to volunteer as attending physicians, which could expand the clinic’s capacity to help Brooklyn’s underserved, and provide more students with valuable training.

“We’re swamped on Wednesdays,” Mincer said. “People make appointments in advance, and we try to take walk-ins, based on what we can do. If we could get two attendings one night, we could move much faster.”

The clinic is run by a team of students from across Downstate, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, the College of Health Related Professions and School of Public Health. Students handle everything from scheduling and administrative work, to screening and caring for patients, overseen by attending physicians and faculty advisors. Patients are often referred to a network of specialists who agree to treat them for free.

“The proximity (of the new clinic location) to the rest of the hospital has multiple benefits – easier access for volunteer attending physicians, closer proximity of referral services for patients, better synchronization of medical records with Downstate systems, and consolidation of care into a single locale,” said Patrick Eucalitto, third-year medical student and Chief Operations Officer for the Brooklyn Free Clinic. “This simplifies the often daunting task that patients face when navigating multiple providers.”

The team will miss the clinic’s first home, he said, but the move will be positive for volunteers, patients and students. Mincer agrees.

“One of the most important things about the clinic, in addition to serving people who wouldn’t otherwise get care, is that it’s an opportunity for students to learn and to practice in real life what we’re learning about. Normally, students don’t get to do that until third year,” Mincer said. “This is an opportunity for us to actually practice. It’s a double mission of serving people and learning.”

Working with students from other disciplines is also an opportunity to practice “socially conscious” healthcare, she said. It’s a collaboration.

“BFC leadership is using the move as a strategic opportunity for self-assessment, reevaluation, growth, and change, and we’re really excited about it,” Eucalitto said. “We get a chance to rethink our logistics, to recreate a clinical environment that reflects our organization’s core values of access, education, and inclusivity, and to optimize our unique balance between student education and excellent patient care for those who need it most.”


Help support medical education. Give today!


Downstate News: December 16, 2016

University Hospital of Brooklyn

SUNY Downstate Medical Center recently celebrated the founding, 50 years ago, of the academic medical center’s College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and University Hospital of Brooklyn at a gala reception on campus. The event climaxed a yearlong celebration of the founding in 1966 of the three schools and the center’s teaching hospital. Read more on the 50th anniversary of several Downstate programs, here.

Allen J. Norin, PhD, D (ABHI), professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of transplant immunology and immunogenetics at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, was elected to represent the New York State Transplant Laboratories on the Histocompatibility Committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS oversees the organ transplant waiting list in the United States. Read more about Dr. Norin’s election to the UNOS committee, here.


Class Notes: December 16, 2016

circle logo white on blue
Glenn Lubash, MD ‘54
Dr. Lubash writes, “Enough is enough. I retired from medical work on Dec 31, 2016. I have had a rewarding career with faculty positions at Cornell, University of Maryland, and the University of New Mexico. My last position in NM was as Head of Renal and Hypertension Division and Professor of Medicine. I was fortunate to be part of the earlier days of dialysis and kidney transplantation and later was involved in basic research in hypertension. I left academic medicine in 1973 and thereafter was in the private practice of nephrology in Albuquerque for many years. In later years, I alternated between nephrology and primary care. My wife of 45 years, Jean, died in 1997, and I have been married to Geri for over 18 years. I have been extremely lucky with marriages to two wonderful women. I plan now to try to write something about medical experiences, but am not sure I have the talent for that.”


Donna Younger, MD ’55
Dr. Younger, an internal medicine physician and Harvard Medical School professor, retired in 2016.

Allen Silberstein, MD ’62
Dr. Silberstein writes that he has been retired for 10 years now, and spends his time sculpting, playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Irene.

Allan Naarden, MD ’64
Dr. Naarden’s son, Gregory, and daughter-in-law, Ann, had a child, Dr. Naarden’s fourth grandchild.

Andy Schwartz, MD ‘65
Dr. Schwartz writes, “We have evolved from Internal Medicine to professor (Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine, Microbiology) to practicing IM and ID, and now primarily Geriatrics/senior care at institutions ALs, ILs, rehabs and long-term care facilities. Working for VIRTUA Medical Group in Camden and Burlington Counties in New Jersey.Three grown children with diverse professions — law, therapy, and options trading) and six grandchildren from ages 3 to 23. Of course, they’re all the greatest folks! One older one has migrated back to NYC, and is in graduate school at Columbia. Two are in New Orleans at Tulane. Where has the time gone? We only graduated a couple yesterdays ago.”



Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65
Argos Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ARGS) has announced the appointment of Ralph Snyderman, M.D., and Irackly Mtibelishvily, LL.M., to the company’s board of directors. “It is a privilege to welcome a pair of profoundly accomplished professionals to the Argos board of directors who offer renowned expertise in each of their respective fields,” said Jeff Abbey, president and CEO of Argos. Dr. Snyderman is chancellor emeritus at Duke University, James B. Duke professor of medicine, and director of the Center for Research on Personalized Health Care. He served as chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Duke University School of Medicine from 1989 to 2004. During this time, he oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System and served as its first president and chief executive officer. Dr. Snyderman has played a leading role in the conception and development of Personalized Health Care, an evolving model of national health care delivery. Previously, Dr. Snyderman served as senior vice president for medical research and development at Genentech, Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm. He has played a leadership role in important national organizations such as the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Snyderman earned a doctor of medicine degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Read the full Argos press release, here.

Michael Stillman, MD ‘67
Dr. Stillman had a solo Dermatology practice in Westchester County for 30 years, and then joined a 500-doctor multi-specialty group where he worked until mandatory retirement at age 70, three years ago. “Since then, I babysit three grandchildren, play golf, and drive my wife crazy,” he writes. “She works in real estate and runs marathons. She says she will keep on working and running as long as I’m retired.”
Dr. Stillman’s 36-year-old son Jeremy is an Orthopedic PA at George Washington University Hospital, and enjoys Ironmen Triathlons and helicopter skiing. His 40-year-old daughter Julie was an executive at Columbia/Sony Music and now is a stay at home mom who plays competitive tennis and runs. Her husband is a urologist in Connecticut.
“I have been blessed with good health thanks to good genes and modern medicine,” Dr. Stillman writes, “and no thanks to poor eating habits.”

M. Monica Sweeney, MD ‘75
On World AIDS Day, December 2, 2016, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams presented an award to Dr. Monica Sweeney, vice dean for global engagement and chair of Health Policy & Management in the School of Public Health, for her years of dedication and accomplishments. The ceremony was held at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Cynthia MacKay, MD ‘77
Dr. MacKay writes that she has “retired from the operating room and research. I am still in private practice in ophthalmology on the upper west side of New York City. I perform laser surgery for glaucoma and after-cataract, and for retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinal tears and detachments, and sickle cell retinopathy. I hope to see many 1977 classmates at our 40th reunion in May 2017.”

Carol Kornmehl, MD ‘84
Dr. Kornmehl was again named a Top Doctor of New Jersey.

SUNY Downstate Alumni In Memoriam

Charles M. Plotz, MD ’44
Dr. Plotz died peacefully at home November 20, 2016, surrounded by his family. He was born December 6, 1921 in New York, son of Dr. Isaac Israel and Rose Celia (Bluestone) Plotz. He graduated from Columbia College at 19, and received his M.D. degree from Long Island College of Medicine (now SUNY Downstate Medical Center) at 22. After his internship at New Haven (now Yale New Haven) Hospital, he married Lucille Weckstein, who survives him and with whom he shared 71 years of a wonderful marriage. After serving as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps and completing his residency, Charles entered the new field of rheumatology, becoming the first rheumatology fellow at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He participated in much of the seminal research in the field, and in the 1950s, together with Dr. Jacques Singer, developed the latex fixation test, which quickly became and has remained the standard test for rheumatoid arthritis. Charles’s academic achievements made him a much sought-after participant in conferences around the world, allowing him to indulge his love of travel and leading to friendships with colleagues all over the world. In 1965 he was invited to spend a month heading the American medical outreach effort in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he gained firsthand knowledge of that then peaceful part of the world. Charles was for many years a professor at Downstate and was the founding chair of the family practice department there, a position he held until his retirement. He also maintained an active private practice and was beloved by his patients. Above all, Charles lived life to its fullest. Charles was a connoisseur of fine food and wine, and the parties he and Lucille gave at their homes in Brooklyn and Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard were legendary among their friends and colleagues. He was a vibrant, active, fun- filled person, whether playing tennis, traveling the world with Lucille, telling a seemingly limitless supply of jokes (always delivering the right one at the right time) or shopping for food, which he continued to do to the end. As part of his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of others, Charles took the older two of his three sons to join the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights march with Dr. King.

Watch a 2010 interview with Dr. Charles M. Plotz by the American College of Rheumatology

Martin I. Gold, MD ’54
Dr. Gold, ’54 died on Dec 12, 2016, of Alzheimer’s. His post graduate training was at the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and subsequently worked at the VA Hospital in Miami, Florida, as a Full Professor. He was Board Certified in Anesthesiology, and contributed 33 medical journal articles and abstracts. He is survived by his wife, Betty, and 3 children, Barbara, Cindy and Michael.

Frank DiPillo, MD ’56
Dr. DiPillo, age 87, a dedicated physician, beloved mentor to medical students and residents, died on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, surrounded by his family. He was born and raised in the Bronx and moved to Brooklyn before living in Warren, New Jersey, since 1987.  He graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University and received his medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical School. Dr. DiPillo served his residency and fellowship at Long Island College Hospital. He then became an attending physician and later served as chief of special hematology/ oncology from 1970 to 1998 before being promoted to chairman of medicine from 1998 to 2012. All the while, he trained and mentored thousands of medical students, residents and fellows. He was beloved by his patients, colleagues, and staff. He loved spending time with his family, reading, watching old movies, and Frank Sinatra. Dr. DiPillo served in the U.S. Navy. Published in Star-Ledger on Dec. 2, 2016.


Catherine Kane, MD ’59
Kane, Catherine S. MD of Stony Brook, NY on December 20, 2015 in her 82nd year. Dr. Kane spent most of her life in Brooklyn, where she was Medical Director of the Angel Guardian Home, providing services to young people in need, including children in need of adoption, foster kids, unwed teen mothers and babies born addicted to drugs.


John A Crocco, MD ’61
John A. Crocco, MD Prominent member of the academic medical community who left an indelible mark John A. Crocco, M.D., died Sunday Dec. 4, 2016, after a long illness. Dr. Crocco was a prominent member, both regionally and nationally, of the academic medical community where he left an indelible mark. A Memorial Mass will be held on Friday, Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Church, 470 Ryders Lane, East Brunswick, N.J. 08816. Internment will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday at Moravian Cemetery, 2205 Richmond Rd., Staten Island, N.Y. 10306. Dr. Crocco earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his MD from the State University of New York-Downstate Medical Center. He went on to complete his residency in internal medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, and pulmonary diseases at Kings County Hospital, SUNY-Downstate Medical Center. His education propelled him into a distinguished medical career. Dr. Crocco rose through the academic ranks, first at SUNY-Downstate and then at New York Medical College. A stint with the military, where he achieved the rank of major in the U.S. Army Reserves, punctuated his career, and he served as chief of professional services for the 1208th U.S. Army Hospital for four years. Throughout his career, he published numerous articles on pulmonary diseases, including the landmark studies on massive hemoptysis in 1968 and on tuberculous pericarditis in 1970. He held extensive leadership positions in the New York Trudeau Society, the President’s Commission on Smoking and Health, the New York Lung Association, and the American College of Physicians. In 1977, he was invited to write the introduction for the classic collector’s edition of the iconic medical text, Gray’s Anatomy. He served as editor for several prestigious journals and was elected to the American College of Physicians, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the New York Academy of Medicine. In 1983, Cardinal Terrence Cooke installed him as a Knight of the Sovereign & Military Order of Malta of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as chief of the Pulmonary Division and associate director of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital for 15 years. He then served as the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, N.J. During his tenure and under his leadership, the department made tremendous strides in resident education as well as medical student development, and fostered a superior academic environment. He laid the foundation for the transition to University Hospital status in affiliation with Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. After his retirement in 2000 until shortly before his death, he remained exceedingly active as a clinical professor of medicine at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he earned a Certificate of Excellence in teaching every year since 2003. In 2005, he received The Gold Humanism Honor Society Award in recognition of his exemplary service to others, his integrity, clinical excellence, and compassionate and respectful relationships with patients, families, and colleagues. Jersey Shore Medical Center presented him with the Department of Medicine 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. In early 2016, he received the Alumni Achievement Award in Pulmonology from SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in recognition of significant contributions to the welfare of mankind. Dr. Crocco is survived by his wife, Mary Arlene; five children and their spouses: Robert and Cyndie, Mary Grace, Elizabeth and Stephen, Kathleen and Derrick, and John and Maria, and seven grandchildren, Aidan, Colette, Barry, Collin, Shaun, Dorian, and Kieran. Published in Star-Ledger on Dec. 6, 2016.

Do you have Class Notes to share? Email us at alumni (at), or call 718-270-2075.

Join the Alumni Association-College of Medicine for SUNY Downstate
and support the next generation of medical education.


Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65 appointed to the Argos


Ralph Snyderman, MD
Photo Duke University

Argos Therapeutics Inc. announces the appointment of Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, and Irackly Mtibelishvily, LL.M., to the company’s board of directors.

“It is a privilege to welcome a pair of profoundly accomplished professionals to the Argos board of directors who offer renowned expertise in each of their respective fields,” said Jeff Abbey, president and CEO of Argos. “Dr. Snyderman is widely referred to as the ‘father of personalized medicine’ and his experience running the Duke University Health System as well as his senior leadership roles at Genentech will help guide us as we advance our individualized immunotherapy through the final stages of clinical development, assess indication expansion and approach our goal of becoming a fully-integrated commercial company. In addition, Irackly Mtibelishvily is globally recognized as one of the most experienced international investment bankers and will advise on important corporate finance and other strategic activities in the years ahead.”

Dr. Snyderman is chancellor emeritus at Duke University, James B. Duke professor of medicine, and director of the Center for Research on Personalized Health Care. He served as chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Duke University School of Medicine from 1989 to 2004. During this time, he oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System and served as its first president and chief executive officer. Dr. Snyderman has played a leading role in the conception and development of Personalized Health Care, an evolving model of national health care delivery. Previously, Dr. Snyderman served as senior vice president for medical research and development at Genentech, Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm. He has played a leadership role in important national organizations such as the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Snyderman earned a doctor of medicine degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Argos Therapeutics


Remembering Gerald Greenberg, MD ’59, Friend of Downstate


Died November 21, 2015

Gerald M Greenberg, MD, age 83, of Roslyn Heights, NY, died peacefully and gently and with a soft smile on his face, much as he had lived, on November 21, 2015 at home on hospice care, surrounded by his family. He was the beloved husband of Abby J. Greenberg, MD, ’59.
Jerry was born on October 22, 1932, the son of Emanuel D. Greenberg, DDS and Sayde Greenberg. He was raised in the Bronx, overlooking Yankee Stadium, and graduated from the University of Rochester with a BA in Physics, and then from the SUNY Downstate Medical School in 1959. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn and his Fellowship in Pulmonary Disease at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
After serving in the US Navy, Dr Greenberg was appointed Chief of the Pulmonary Disease Division and Chief of the Department of Medicine at the Greenpoint Hospital Affiliation of the Jewish Hospital and Medical Center of Brooklyn. Then, from 1971 – 1980, he was Associate Director of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Division of Pulmonary Disease at Jamaica Hospital.
Dr. Greenberg returned to Brooklyn Jewish Hospital in 1980 and became Chief of the Pulmonary Division and also Chief of the Critical Care Division of Interfaith Medical Center (formerly Brooklyn Jewish Hospital). He remained in those two positions for two decades until 2004, and then stayed in the Department of Medicine as an Attending Physician in charge of the Tuberculosis Outpatient Program until he retired in 2011. At his funeral, Dr. Greenberg was eulogized by M. Frances Schmidt, MD, his successor as Chief of the Pulmonary Division of Interfaith Medical Center. She said that Dr. Greenberg educated multiple generations of physicians and pulmonologists in the Pulmonary Fellowship Program and each of them will remember him as a man of great character and integrity, an honest man, a great teacher, and a great Physician. She noted that he was a source of inspiration to all at Interfaith Medical Center; and he taught the members and trainees in the Pulmonary Division about mutual respect and about the need to try to perform to the highest standard and to care passionately for their patients. She reported that the Pulmonary Fellowship has been able to maintain its very high academic standard because of the structure and norms that Dr. Greenberg established.
In 2005, in honor of the 50th anniversary of their wedding, Dr. Gerald Greenberg and his wife, Dr. Abby Greenberg, established the Drs. Gerald and Abby Greenberg Scholarship Fund of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center Alumni Association – College of Medicine. The scholarship monies are designated to be awarded periodically to married medical student couples. This criterion was selected because Jerry and Abby entered SUNY Downstate Medical Center, College of Medicine together as young newlyweds and then graduated together in 1959 with a 6 month old addition to their family; and they wanted to be able to provide some additional support to couples in similar circumstances.

Abby Greenberg


Brooklyn Recognizes M. Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH ’75 for AIDS Work


On December 2, 2016, in conjunction with World AIDS Day, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams recognized Dr. Monica Sweeney, ’75, SUNY Downstate Vice Dean for Global Engagement and Chair of Health Policy & Management in the School of Public Health, for her years of dedication and accomplishments in public health. The ceremony was held at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Dr. Sweeney dedicated many years to addressing the health challenges in Brooklyn and elsewhere, and to achieving health equity and improving health care access for those who are disadvantaged.

She is the former assistant commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Prior to that time, she served as medical director and vice president for medical affairs at the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Sweeney is the immediate past chair of the SUNY Downstate Council, and served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), and as president of the Medical Society of the County of Kings. She has been a member of the board of directors of several prominent organizations, and has served as co-chair of the Physician Advisory Council of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, and as president of the Clinical Directors Network.

In the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Sweeney led the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s prevention and control efforts for several years. Her service on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resulted in new initiatives to control the disease globally.

Dr. Sweeney received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health degree in health services management from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She completed her residency training in internal medicine at Kings County Hospital Center/Downstate Medical Center, and is boarded in internal medicine.

Dr. Sweeney has served as a member of the faculty of the School of Public Health for several years and, prior to the school’s establishment, as a faculty member of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health. She has also served as a member of the faculty of Downstate’s Department of Medicine.

Dr. Sweeney is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Award for Service in Health & Health Education for Black Women of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Public Health Advocate Award from the Public Health Association of New York City, and the Leadership in Urban Medicine Award of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

SUNY  Downstate


Norman Chenven, MD ’70, TCMS Physician of the Year

By LeAnne DuPay, Travis County Medical Society

Roll with the punches and respond to the changing environment as creatively as you can is Norman Chenven’s life philosophy. Quietly brilliant, Dr. Chenven has calmly followed life’s prompts since day one. So how did he decide to become a physician? “I was majoring in physics  at Brown University,” he explains. “But I knew I did not want a career in physics. I also knew I didn’t want to go to Vietnam.” He opted to apply to  medical school and thus potentially receive a deferment from the draft. Although he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be a doctor, he was accepted at the State University of New York Medical Science Center.

He says that his uncertainty was short lived. “The minute I experienced direct patient interaction, I was hooked!” Chenven says with a smile. “It was magic.” Basically, he stumbled into his life’s calling—and he’s managed to be in the right place at the right time over and over—resulting in a life full of rich, unique experiences.

Take his two years working for the US Indian Health Services in a 20 bed hospital located in Tuba City, Arizona on the western side of the Navajo Reservation. Chenven and 14 other doctors cared for a population of nearly 40,000 Navajo and Hopi Indians. Many of the Navajos over the age of 40 did not speak English. “The two tribes did not always get along, but co-existed in their overlapping reservations,” he says. “Historically the Navajo were warriors and herders, very austere and with a guttural sounding language, while the Hopi were villagers and farmers, living in pueblos who spoke with a melodic lilt. The two tribes were a study in contrasts.” Practicing medicine with these cultures was extremely enlightening with regards to both cultural diversity and human nature. Even as late as the early 1970s, some traditional Navaho men, and in particular Medicine Men (who were quite active and respected), wore their hair long. “Some of us younger docs would emulate them by wearing our hair long and tied up with yarn in a bun called a ‘tsi’ (tsiiyeel). I still had my shoulder length hair when I arrived in Austin in 1973 to begin work in the Brackenridge Hospital ED.”

A fond memory of his time on the Reservation was treating a Hopi woman named Gertrude. She was a lovely person in her 80s with lymphoma. From time to time her family would invite him and his wife Dinah to be guests at traditional ceremonies and dances held on the Third Mesa.
Dr. Chenven notes that his experience in the Indian Health Service was his first introduction to the group practice format. “It was very efficient—all specialties working shoulder to shoulder in order to provide superb access and care to our patient population.” He considers this formative experience to have played a role in his decision to found Austin Regional Clinic a decade later.

Escape From New York

While in college, he met Dinah and they were married during his first year of medical school. SUNY Downstate Medical Center was located on the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a tough neighborhood in the middle of Brooklyn. During their four-year stay, murders occurred on opposite corners of their block.

So how did he and Dinah end up in Austin? “We were invited to visit by a high school buddy of mine—Don had come to Texas with Vista (the domestic version of the Peace Corps),” Chenven explains. “We had a great time—he took us honky-tonking and we actually saw Willie Nelson playing to a near empty room at Big G’s in Round Rock.” Like everyone else who comes to Texas, Chenven was charmed and surprised by what is commonly known as “Texas friendly” especially coming from New York. “I guess this was my version of ‘I got here as soon as I could.’ ”

Trading his East Coast thermals for cowboy boots, Dr. Chenven did post-graduate training at Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio. He and Dinah eventually settled in Austin where she attended UT and he took a job in the Brackenridge ED. “Back then it was the only facility open after 5 pm in the surrounding 10 counties,” he remembers. “Virtually every physician volunteered to provide specialty coverage and/or office follow-up. There were fewer than 400 active doctors in the community. It was a different time and place then. The ED was hard work and sometimes scary, but I loved it.” Subsequently, Chenven spent three rewarding years in a four physician group. But in 1980, he left that practice and founded Austin Regional Clinic (ARC).

Launching Austin Regional Clinic

Dr. Chenven never lost his appreciation for the Indian Health Services’ multi-specialty format. “I was inspired with the opportunity to coordinate accessible care for people. I had a multi-specialty dream,” he chuckles.

Howard Marcus, MD, recalls his ARC recruitment experience, “In 1981 I answered a recruitment ad for an internist. At this time, Norman was pretty much a one-man administration. He did all the interviewing. The first thing I notice is that this Jewish guy from Brooklyn is wearing cowboy boots—which absolutely made no sense to me. I took the job anyway!”
Another early recruitment anecdote demonstrates Chenven’s casual manner. Dr. Russ Krienke laughs, “My best Norman story is when he was recruiting me. He took me to the ‘glamorous, upscale’ Thundercloud Subs on Guadalupe, forgot his wallet and I ended up paying for my recruitment lunch. I must have been desperate, because I still signed on!”
There are now 21 ARC locations in the Austin area, employing 350 physicians and providing care to approximately 420,000 patients. In addition to the daily operations of the clinics, Dr. Chenven oversees even more. He is president and CEO of Covenant Management Systems (CMS). CMS is a practice management company that provides technical support and services to hospitals, medical groups, provider networks and governmental and employer health plans.
During what must be rare free time, he loves to visit his three daughters and five grandchildren in Oregon. Running, photography, travel and reading about ancient Greek and Roman history are also favorite pastimes.

Triumphs and Concerns for Medicine

There is no doubt that technological developments in medicine in recent history have been astounding. “The breakthroughs in the past four decades have resulted in the ability to treat (and often cure) conditions that in the past would have meant nothing but ongoing misery for patients” Chenven says with passion. “Sometimes we lose sight of that.” An example of something that will eventually pay off in ways we can’t yet imagine is the data captured by electronic medical records (EMRs). He is excited about the eventual compilation of data that will reveal unique patterns of subpopulations for every type of disease paving the way for more customized treatment plans.
As for what is wrong with medicine? Chenven cites the progressive regulatory complexity and the ongoing fragmentation of the health care delivery system. The lack of consistency, measurable quality and relentlessly escalating costs are going to hinder a physician’s ability to provide high quality care. “I am concerned that our country’s political dysfunction will make these problems impossible to solve.”
This brings up the subject of advocacy and TCMS. Chenven sees organized medicine and advocacy as being absolutely vital. “There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin made after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence that I love,” he says. “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Translated, one cohesive voice and strength in numbers are key.

So how does Dr. Norman Chenven feel about being named TCMS Physician of the Year? “Old,” he says without hesitation. Why does he think he got the award? “Ditto,” he says with a laugh. “But in all seriousness,” he continued. “Receiving an honor like this, from my colleagues and peers and in a community where I’ve spent most of my career, is recognition that my life’s work has been meaningful. It makes me feel appreciated and grateful.”

Travis County Medical Society

Have you reached a professional milestone? Let us know! Email alumni(at)downstate(dot)edu.


World AIDS Day at SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, New York

Throughout today, panels from the AIDS quilt are on display in the atrium of the Basic Science Building for SUNY Downstate. We remember those people who have passed away during the epidemic, and those who continue to die from this disease. We celebrate those survivors and the amazing modern medicine that has made survival possible.

SUNY Downsate events for World AIDS Day
quilts2Photo Eric Shoen-Ukre

December 1, 2016
Display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, sponsored by the Student Center Governing Board. Also a display of Survivor Panels, created by Downstate’s STAR Program, to celebrate the resilience of people living with HIV.
Basic Science Building Atrium
9 am – 4 pm

STAR Health Center Annual World AIDS Day Program
This year’s program focuses on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), featuring real life stories from patients and staff about PreP and HIV.
Alumni Auditorium
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Reception to follow in Lecture Hall 1B

December 2

Adolescent Education Program’s and Diaspora Community Services
World AIDS Day: A Teen Town Hall 2016 Event
Peer leaders and Youth Advocates of the BATES Network come together to remove the stigma of the virus and to champion their peers to do the same. Join them in making your voice heard.
Alumni Auditorium
5 – 8 pm

December 2
2016 World AIDS Day
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will present an award to Dr. Monica Sweeney, ’75, Vice Dean for Global Engagement and Chair of Health Policy & Management in the School of Public Health, for her years of dedication and accomplishments.
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
5 – 8 pm

December 4
Health Center, airing on local TV channels
Topic: World AIDS
Featuring: Host Dr. Monica Sweeney

Sunday, December 4 – 11:30 am, on BronxNet, Channel 70
Monday, December 5 – 10am and 5 pm, on Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT) Channel 69;
Friday, December 9 –  7:30 am, on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) Channel 56.

SUNY Downstate

Be involved! Support medical education today.
New logo