137th SUNY Downstate Annual Reunion, May 19-20, 2017

The 137th Annual Reunion Weekend, May 19 – 21 2017, was attended by over 200 Alumni at the Brooklyn Marriott! The weekend was kicked off with a tour of SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Kings County led by current students. Alumni enjoyed lunch as they reminisced on the memories of their past and time spent in medical school.

On Saturday May 20th, the alumni were greeted by SUNY Downstate President Dr. Wayne Riley. His address marked a theme of progress. Dr. Riley stated “Downstate doesn’t have to be across the water to be great and to continue to be thoughtful adapters of new pedagogy.”

The scientific program featured 4 alumni, each prominent in their respective fields. Topics ranged from Lyme disease to prescription opioids. Immediately following was the alumni awards ceremony, with the highest honor conferred Daniel Perl, MD’67, for his distinguished service American Medicine. The weekend culminated in the elegant Dinner Dance. Alumni dressed in their best formal evening attires, and celebrated their achievements thus far.

Thank you to ALL of the Alumni who attended and made reunion weekend a success. Congratulations to the class of 1957 on the occasion of their 50th anniversary of graduation. Photos are available on the Alumni Association Facebook and for purchase on Shutterfly.
The compiled list of presentation topics and award winners is located below:

Scientific Session Topics:

Daniel Perl, MD ’67
“From the NFL to the Battlefield: Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury”
Click here to watch the video of Dr. Perl’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLxbfgoONxg
Martin Kafina, MD ’82
“Immunity in Lyme Arthritis’
Click here to watch the video of Dr. Kafina’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE30My1zrp8

Myron Yaster, MD 77
“The World is full of obvious things that no one ever sees: The Epidemic of Non-Medical Use of Prescription Opioids”
Click here to watch the video of Dr. Yaster’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daw2HzUOkqw

Allen Frances, MD ’67
“Saving Normal: Over Treatment in Psychiatry”
Click here to watch the video of Dr. Frances’ discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65fHK2gXGWg

Award Winners:
Click here to watch the video of the Awards Ceremony:

Alumni Medallion For Distinguished Service To American Medicine Is Presented To Daniel Perl, MD ’67   In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to the Medical Profession and the Community

Dr. Frank L. Babbott Memorial Award Is Presented To Gilbert Martin, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to the Medical Profession and the Community

William A. Console, MD Alumni Achievement Award In Psychiatry Is Presented To Gerard Sunnen, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Psychiatry

Alumni Achievement Award In Orthopeadic Surgery Is Presented To John Aversa, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Orthopedic Surgery

Clarence And Mary Dennis Dedicated Service Award Is Presented To Sydney Butts, MD In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to SUNY Downstate and the Surrounding Community

Clark-Curran Award In Medical Administration Is Presented To Stephen Wadowski, MD ’87 In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to SUNY Downstate and Your Accomplishments as an Administrator

Honorary Alumnus/A Is Presented To Jeanne Macrae, MD In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to the Medical Profession and the SUNY Downstate Community

Honorary Alumnus/A Is Presented To Robin Ovitsh, MD In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to the Medical Profession and the SUNY Downstate Community

Alumni Achievement Award In Physiatry Is Presented To Anna Maria Massaro-Dunn, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Physiatry

Alumni Achievement Award In Dermatolog Is Presented To Jeanine Downie, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Dermatology

Phillip L. Lear, MD ’34 Master Teacher Award In Surgery Is Presented To Celia Maria Divino, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Teaching In Surgery

Master Teacher Award In Dermatology Is Presented To Ivan Cohen, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Teaching in Dermatology

Master Teacher Award In Surgical Oncology Is Presented To Henry Mark Kuerer, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Teaching in Surgical Oncology

Alumni Achievement Award In Urology Is Presented To Elizabeth Kavaler, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Urology

Alumni Achievement Award In Public Health Is Presented To Noriel L. Sta. Maria, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement In Public Health

Alumni Achievement Award In Cardiovascular Medicine Is Presented To Icilma V. Fergus, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Cardiovascular Medicine

Alumni Achievement Award In Preventative Medicine Is Presented To E. Melinda Mahabee-Gittens, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Preventative Medicine

Alumni Achievement Award In Neurosurgery/Neurology Is Presented To Owen B. Samuels, MD ’92 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement Neurosurgery/Neurology

William A Console, MD Master Teacher Award In Psychiatry Is Presented To Allen Frances, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Teaching in Psychiatry

Richard C. Troutman, MD Master Teacher Award In Opthalmology Is Presented To David Berman, MD ’82 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Teaching in Ophthalmology

Alumni Achievement Award In Sports Medicine Is Presented To William Clancy, MD ’67 In Recognition Of Significant Achievement in Sports Medicine

Alumni Achievement Award In Pediatrics Is Presented To Myron Yaster, MD ’77 In Recognition Of Your Achievements in Pediatrics

Benhamin Zohn, MD ’25 Alumni Service Award Is Presented To Daniel Nicoll, MD ’72 In Recognition Of Distinguished Service and Dedication to the Alumni of the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Harry Z. Mellins, MD ’44 Alumni Achievement Award In Radiology Is Presented To Stanley Siegelman, MD ’57 In Recognition Of Your Achievements in Radiology

Richard L. Day, MD Master Teacher Award In Pediatrics Is Presented To Michael Whyte, MD ’72 In Recognition Of Your Achievements in Teaching in Pediatrics

Alumni Achievement Award In Immunology Is Presented To Martin Kafina, MD ’82 In Recognition Of Distinguished Service to the Medical Profession and the Community

Please provide feedback on the weekend using the following survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2RXKBDZ

Check out the photos of the weekend:  https://sunydownstatealumniphotos.shutterfly.com/



SUNY Downstate News May 2017


SUNY Downstate Alumnus Jeffrey Goldstein, MD’90, was elected president of the International society Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery.” Dr. Goldstein is chief of the Spine Service for Education Program and Director of the Spine Fellowship Program in NYU Langone Medical Center’s department of orthopedics. He has served on the ISASS board of directors since 2011. “We will continue our efforts to advance the science and art of spine surgery and educate practitioners from around the world,” said Dr. Goldstein.” to read more about this SUNY Downstate alumnus here.


Class of 2017 Commencement Recap

The Class of 2017 Commencement of the College of Medicine, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Public Health of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center took place again at Carnegie Hall on May 23, 2017.  The College of Medicine graduated 191 students from the Class of 2017 including two MD/PHD graduates and eight MD/MPH graduates.

Students, Faculty, and Professors alike resounded with  jubilation for the newly graduated doctors!  The theme for the ceremony was progression based on hope and determination. Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient, David A. Bennahum, MD, said “we must always take care of our patients within the context of hope,” and highlighted the importance of continuing to the enrich your imagination.

Check out the video from SUNY Downstate about Commencement 2017 here:

New graduates were provided with keys to success from distinguished speakers. “Medicine is both an art and a science” -David A. Bennahum, MD, on what it takes to be a good doctor. The College of Medicine Alumni Association President, Suzanne S. Mirra, MD ’67, also said “be an advocate for your patients, for proposed changes in healthcare, and when necessary, resist.”

You can watch the Class of 2017 take the Hippocratic Oath in our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cbMOZKM57Y

Check out the full video of Dr. Mirra’s welcome speech here:

Congratulations Graduates !



Class Notes: May 2017


Norman M. Mann, MD’45
Dr. Mann wrote in April, 2017, “As a member of the 1945 graduating class, I feel my class should be represented in notes about us in our alumni magazine. Medicine has undergone so many changes since I entered practice in 1949, in the field of Internal Medicine. Initially, I took part in making many house calls during the day, and many during the night. Early hospital visits to see patients were necessary. Attendance at lectures in medicine was part of daily medical life.
Now, patients must see their physician in the office, or run to the emergency room. If a patient has to go to the hospital, his or her doctor does not follow. A local hospitalist takes over. Unfortunately, the relationship between the patient and his doctor is severed. Many patients and some doctors have therefore resorted to hiring ‘consierge doctors’ who, for a yearly fee ($1,500 to $2,000), act as ‘backup care.’ They will take calls, make house calls, help in the transfer of the patient to the hospital.
All of the above, I am sure my fellow physicians know very well. I must say my own experience in medicine was very satisfying. I am fortunate to continue to be active. I am on the staff at U. Conn. Health Center at Farmington, CT. I hope to hear from my classmates.”

Martin Kaplan, MD ’53
Dr. Kaplan writes in April, 2016, “Phil Warren and I get together during my winter stays in Sarasota, Florida.”

Murray Kofkin, MD ’53
Dr. Kofkin writes in April 2017 that he has retired from his Child Psychiatric practice to be closer to his three New York-raised daughters, now all living west of the Mississippi.

Stan Fischman, MD ‘60
Dr. Fishman writes in March, “Still alive and kickin’!” from Woodside, California.

Jack V. Forrest, MD ’66
With much help (as always) from my wife, Deb Pate, I now have a blog which includes an archive of many health related emails I have sent over the last few years. The title “Jack’s What Really Matters” was inspired by my frustration with the reams of professional medical and popular press articles which emphasize trivial issues and often spread incomplete, or even false, information about diet, drugs, medical testing and procedures. Huge amounts of money are made by the food, drug and medical businesses promoting poor diet and medical care choices. We joke about used car salesmen, but food, drug and medical promoters are the worst. They are killing people to increase their companies’ profits. Poor lifestyle, especially food choices; inappropriate medical tests and procedures; unnecessary drugs and supplements are the major cause of death, disability and physical suffering in western countries. We have glamorized this approach to diet and medical care with frightening results in developing countries. Some, like China and Mexico, now have a greater problem with diabetes than we in the United States do.
New topics “Diet, Longevity and Quality of Life” and “Modern Medical Care and Diet” are included. A reading list and links to other relevant material will soon be added. This blog may be shared with anyone you know who might be interested. To do this choose the “more” tab and select “share by email.”
At top right of blog page there is a tab “follow by email.” If you want to be notified of future postings select this, type in your email address, and follow instructions to confirm. Anyone you share this site with can sign up to receive future posts in the same way.
Link to blog- http://jackswhatreallymatters.blogspot.com/

Robert Rudnicki, MD ’68
Dr. Rudnicki writes in April that he has retired from his Rheumatology practice. “I’m enjoying winters in Florida, visiting grandchildren (8) and traveling (Hawaii, Australia …) See you in Spring 2018 for our 50th!!”

Paul S. Quentzel, MD ’71
Dr. Quentzel has retired from active gastroenterology practice. He now volunteers at a clinic in south Florida, taking care of indigent patients. Dr. Quentzel writes, “I look forward to the 50th reunion in 2021.”

David M Klein, MD’ 75
Dr. Klein is being named a recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Medicine Awards by the Board of Directors of the American Medical Association (AMA). He will be honored on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Chicago, held in conjunction with the American Medical’s Association’s Annual Meeting. These awards honor physicians who represent the highest values of altruism, compassion and dedication to patient care. Dr. Klein is the recipient of the Jack B. McConnell, MD Award for Excellence in Volunteerism.

Gary Witman, MD ’75
Dr. Witman is executive medical director of Canna Care Docs in seven states. Canna Care Docs evaluate patients for the use of medicinal cannabinoids. In Aug 2010, Dr. Witman was hit in the back of the neck by a wave in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and since has been a complete quadriplegic at the c3 and c4 level. “I was immediately terminated from my position as both the medical director of the Town of Stoughton, Massachusetts, as well as the chief of emergency medicine at the Good Samaritan medical center in Brockton, Massachusetts. Dr. Witman writes, “I am happy to say that I have been able to make the RI hospital the first institution in the US to utilize medical marijuana instead of opioids for the treatment of post-operative post-surgical pain.”

Steven Bernstein, MD ’85
Dr. Bernstein writes in April, 2017, “I continue as Vice Chair for Research at the University of Maryland at Baltimore in the Department of Ophthalmology. We are looking at ways to enhance optic nerve regeneration, and have identified nanoparticles as a way to target strokes and inflammation-related damage.”

In Memoriam:

James Leslie Perry, MD ’77
Dr. Perry was born April 21, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri, and died January 22, 2017, at 81. He his survived by his wife Linda, of almost 59 years, and their extensive family and family of friends. With his father’s permission, Dr. Perry joined the US Air Force where he served as a radar technician and was discharged with rank of Staff Sergeant in 1956. Jim followed his father’s path to Kansas University and joined the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He also joined Air Force ROTC and received a 1st Lieutenant Commission and a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1960. Dr. Perry accepted an offer from Sperry Gyroscope Company on Long Island where he worked for three years and then moved to Grumman Corporation and was assigned to team developing the radar system for the Apollo 11 Lunar Module which landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. During the 60’s he enrolled in night courses at Adelphi University, MS in Physics 1965, and in Columbia University for Pre-Med courses. In 1973, he began four years at the State University of New York School of Medicine in Brooklyn, followed by Internship at VA Hospital and residencies in Nuclear Medicine and Psychiatry at Long Island Jewish Hospital. He accepted a staff position in the Metropolitan Jewish Geriatric Center on Coney Island for several years until hired by the NY State Department of Mental Health and served the next 20 years in state psychiatric hospitals and out-patient clinics treating persons afflicted with schizophrenia.

Menachem Friedman, MD ’86
Dr. Friedman was an internist affiliated with Maimonides for over 25 years, and specialized in Geriatrics. He died suddenly on March 10.

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Alumni’s Work of Fiction Touches Depression, Recovery

Paul Shalom Rhodes, MD ’75 reads Pink! May 27 in Coney Island

By Dr. Paul Shalom Rhodes, illustrated by Shimra Starr

May 27, 2017
5-8 pm
Coney Island Museum
1208 Surf Ave.
Brooklyn, NY  11224

Pink! is a gently fictionalized family memoir that begins in the early 1930s, as it follows a naive little girl’s fancies and fantasies when she and her mother visit her clinically depressed grandmother at the Blackwell’s Island Hospital in New York’s East River — once the actual site of Nellie Bly’s harrowing account of Ten Days in a Madhouse. The same redemptive love that eventually allays young Claire’s fears is carried through six generations of women … imbuing an aura of hope and resolution.

Pink! is especially engaging for young and adult readers who have encountered clinical depression in themselves or others, and observed the thorny pursuit of recovery.

Books signed by the author and illustrator will be available for purchase after the reading.