First Year Mentoring Program

The Mentoring Program sponsored by the Alumni Association has continued to be a positive addition to the Medical Student experience here at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. To date, the program has served over 2,000 students and procured the services of about 270 faculty and alumni.

Students are provided with an opportunity to engage with other medical students and faculty.  In the month of September, 5 MS1 mentoring sessions were held. First year students were matched with  faculty mentors.

Faculty mentors can answer questions about what being a physician demands and provide students patients and clinical practice insight.

The Mentoring program also goes beyond MS1 student – faculty mentoring. Other programs include having one-on-one lunch with a faculty mentor in their office to see how first hand medicine is practiced and panel discussions involving insight into specialty fields.

Please contact Mrs. Dionne Davis-Lowe, the Mentoring and Alumni Career Program Coordinator at (718)270-7593 or, if you have any questions or would like additional information.


First Year Student Profile – Ana Maria Lopez

This month’s special edition student profile is of first year medical student Ana Maria Lopez, class of 2021. In this profile she included her dog, Pancake Lopez, who is accompanying her on her journey to becoming a doctor. Ana Maria completed her undergraduate education The City College of New York.

Hometown: Valley Stream, Long Island and Buffalo, NY

 Potential specialty: Cardiology ❤

What inspired you to study medicine? I have an extreme love for the biological sciences. I also desire to help and potentially inspire people through my profession. What could be a better choice?

How is your family handling the fact that you’re in med school now? They are overly thrilled and amazingly supportive. Pancake: Grandma takes care of me when Mommy has it super busy.

How did you choose Downstate? I did a few summer programs at Downstate during my undergraduate career and fell in love with the school.  Pancake: I was born in Brooklyn, so I figured I’d return.

How does it feel to actually start med school? It feels like a huge weight has been lifted while simultaneously a larger weight has been added! But seriously, I feel so super blessed and excited to finally be here. Pancake: I don’t know what Mom is stressed about. I am having a wonderfully stress free time. I’m happy I get to see so many people on my walks. Also, I get to sleep when we study!

Student Profile – Zaki Azam

This month’s SUNY Downstate College of Medicine student profile is of Zaki Azam, class of 2019. Zaki completed his undergraduate education right here in our borough at Brooklyn College, where got his Bachelors in Science in Psychology. He is still unsure about his future specialty in Medicine but has had some remarkable experiences here at Downstate.

Who is/was your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and why?

“My favorite professor is Dr. Eisner, because she always pushes her students to achieve even more than they think is possible.”

What is your favorite memory so far of your time studying at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine?

“My favorite memory is attending the AAMC Conference in Seattle with the faculty and Dean of the College of Medicine. I got to know them personally while presenting on the importance of student and faculty wellness.”

How has the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate helped you (scholarships, clubs, events, white-coat ceremony, senior week, research, summer research, technology, healthcare in developing countries elective or other)?

“The Alumni Association has helped me realize great strengths through projects I would otherwise not have had an opportunity to pursue. Given the funding to present at a national conference has not only encouraged me but also gave me the confidence to continue formulating new ideas and present in such settings in the future. I look forward to the next time I can count on the Alumni Association for assistance whether it be for research, presentations or more.”

Equal Opportunity Funding

The Alumni Association remains committed to diverse and inclusive practices.

Diverse and Inclusive practices are subjects many organizations often speak about, but seldom practice, however  the Alumni Association – College of Medicine SUNY Downstate, is not one the aforementioned organizations. Staying true to the vision of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, the Alumni Association remains committed to serving the broad spectrum of individuals that attend SUNY Downstate’s medical school.

Recognizing differing ideologies based on life experience, culture, language, and ethnic background, leads to profound innovations in medicine.

The Alumni Association is proud support Downstate’s minority students with scholarships every year, funded by our generous donors.

This year we provided over $67,859, to African-American, Latino, and Native-American medical students. Depending on your definition of minority/under represented, if we include Asian-American students we have provided over $220,677 this year.

To donate to one of our scholarships to support under-represented individuals at the College of Medicine or to support any of our initiatives that insure medical students have access to the best education possible, click the link provided below. If you have any questions about different ways to contribute do not hesitate to call the Alumni Association office at (718)-270-2075.

Link to donate:

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

Brooklyn Health Disparities Center: Conversations on Patient Adherence



The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a partnership between SUNY Downstate, Arthur Ashe Institute for Public Health and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, is hosting the Friday, Nov. 4 Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Patient Adherence conference.

“Our goal is to engage key stakeholders in addressing this critical issue. Therefore, the target audience includes physicians, nurses, community health workers, community-based organizations, community providers, faith-based leaders, pharmacists, pharmaceutical industry members, healthcare systems leaders, educators, and political leaders,” according to Moro Salifu, MD, MBA, MPH, FACP, Director, Brooklyn Health Disparities Center.

Participants/Presenters include SUNY Drs. Salifu, Lewis, Fraser, Boutin-Foster, Wilson, Cukor, Boutjidir, Kaplan, and more.

The conference Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, runs from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in the Alumni Auditorium at 395 Lenox Road, Brooklyn, NY 11203. To register, and for more information, please visit the Brooklyn Health Disparities Event page here.

Stay connected to SUNY Downstate
Join your medical Alumni Association today!

Leave Downstate and Go Anywhere: Diversity and a Vision for Urban Health

A conversation with Carla Boutin-Foster, MD ’94, MS
SUNY Downstate Associate Dean for Diversity Education & Research
Carla Boutin-Foster, MD

The SUNY Downstate Office of Diversity Education and Research supports diverse students interested in pursuing medical education. It’s an important initiative for SUNY Downstate, Dr. Boutin-Foster said. The students are increasingly diverse, medicine is increasingly global, and Brooklyn, in particular, provides a singular opportunity to develop standards to impact urban health worldwide.

Support for a diverse community
“The office was formerly known as the Office of Minority Affairs, but we changed the name when I got here. I wanted to be more inclusive of what diversity is. I really wanted to capture differences in perspectives, experiences and abilities, as well as gender identity, sexual orientation and gender. I wanted it to be more comprehensive in our approach and, in doing so, allow more talents to contribute to the diversity that is Downstate.

“The office is really here to allow students who may sometimes feel marginalized, or may have barriers because of the way they look, the way they sound – any attributes that are placed upon them, and any barriers that happen as a result of that. We want to be a place where we talk about it, and where we embrace differences, look at similarities and bring about change. The students are telling me what to do, really. They live this every day.”


Improving medical care
“Diversity, for me, is about providing patients with the best quality of care possible. SUNY Downstate happens to be in a community that’s largely minority. Our doctors need to understand that when you see a patient, you’re seeing their culture, their family, the stressors placed upon them. You’re sometimes seeing bias inflicted upon them. You’re seeing the total patient.

“And diversity, for me, is a way to address that. I think the more diverse a medical school is, the more likely students are to learn from each other, and to realize, ‘Wow, we’re from different places, and we do the same thing.’ You focus on differences when you don’t know someone. When you get to know someone, you realize we’re the same.

“It’s important for medicine. It’s important for student education, so students can function in an increasingly global society. I mean, Brooklyn is global. You’ll speak with someone who is from Bangladesh, and you’ll go to another patient, and they’re from Haiti or Russia. I want students to be able to ask questions. But it comes with being comfortable. If you’ve never interacted with a minority group and the first person you see is a patient who’s vulnerable, and sick – that will impact the treatment of that patient, inadvertently. So, it’s about providing the best care for our patients, and providing the most enriched medical education for the students who come here, and diversity does that.”


The Office of Diversity Education and Research hosted its first event in July for diverse residents, fellows and fourth-year students, supported by Joseph Merlino, MD, Faculty Affairs and Professional Development, Kevin Antoine, JD, Diversity and Inclusion, and Stephen Wadowski, MD ’87, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education.

In October, the office hosts an event for Latino heritage and health, and in February, focuses on minority men’s health. The theme shifts to women’s health in March, and to LGBT health and wellness in June.

“When I was at (Weill Cornell), there was a strong LGBT support group, and I worked with some amazing faculty and colleagues around that. They’ve done things like have a speaker on transgender health, and faculty from Callen Lorde in the Bronx. I’m looking really to build on that. Or if there’s something already happening with the Pride Club at Downstate, to be supportive.”

Students, faculty and alumni are invited to contact the office with ideas, Dr. Boutin-Foster said. Two fourth-year students are planning tours for local youth to Brooklyn cultural centers. A male faculty member volunteered as a mentor after witnessing professional inequity in the treatment of women in medical research.

Professional past, preparation
Born in Haiti, Dr. Boutin-Foster’s family moved to Brooklyn when she was 5. She and her best friend decided in high school to study medicine to make a change in the world. Dr. Boutin-Foster first wanted to specialize in OB/GYN, when her classmates started to get pregnant, but ultimately chose internal medicine.

“It really started out as—I enjoyed science,” she said. “But it was public health, social change, that I wanted to do way back when, and medicine was one way to do it.”

Dr. Boutin-Foster completed her residency in Internal Medicine at New York Presbyterian, and earned a Master’s from the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University in Health Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology. She later served as an associate professor of medicine, associate professor of healthcare policy and research, and associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Weill Cornell Medical College.

faculty-diversity-final“After residency, I did a Health Services Research Fellowship, a clinical research fellowship to learn how to ask and answer questions using rigorous research methods. I started doing health disparities research and looking at social factors that impact health. So, I’m looking at diversity as a health behavior. How do you get people from diverse backgrounds to engage in the activity of medical education? I’m always thinking about the research question. What’s the evaluation outcome? Because that’s what we’re trying to do, trying to change behaviors. We’re trying to help people have cultural humility, and to be culturally sensitive and aware.

“I loved my residency, I loved my training at NY-P, you know, but coming back here, and seeing the patients and the students, and the community. And walking on Clarkson Avenue, and just seeing people’s lives, and being in the midst of this daily is something I hadn’t seen in such a long time. It’s been a tremendous blessing to come back and use what I learned, and to build on what’s already happening. There are a lot of folks here doing amazing things.


Vision for Downstate
Dr. Boutin-Foster said she’d like more interdisciplinary programs between Downstate’s five schools. Each has a unique diversity profile, and all the schools, uniquely concentrated on one campus, could form complete models for urban health.

SUNY Downstate at Brooklyn can be the place “students and faculty come to learn how to train students in a culturally diverse community. How do you increase cultural awareness and sensitivity in this population? We’re the place that can really do it, and set the stage and create models. I’d like Downstate to be the place where faculty and students come to learn about social justice and equity, and with that, violence prevention.”

She wants the Brooklyn community, if asked, “What’s in Brooklyn?” to answer, “Well, we have the Barclays Center, we have Coney Island and we have SUNY Downstate.’”

“Downstate’s doing it,” Dr. Boutin-Foster said. “It’s happening here. Community is here. We want students to leave this place and know they can go anywhere in the world and practice medicine. The problems that we see here are everywhere – from Chicago, to LA, to Wisconsin. I think one of the ways to get students to stay, is letting them know what can be done here. This is what happens when you graduate from Downstate. You can go anywhere.”

Alumni support for medical education since 1890.
Join today!

Downstate’s Iuliana Shapira, MD illuminates Cancer Moonshot Initiative

Dr. Iuliana Shapira, Director of the Division of Oncology and Hematology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center talks about the Cancer Moonshot Initiative‘s effects on clinical trials for minority patients.

“The Cancer Moonshot Initiative is a phenomenal program that will allow us to integrate our research efforts, and form partnerships with our patients,” Dr. Shapira said. “Our colleagues can find faster cures for cancer.”

Minorities and immigrants are often underrepresented in clinical trials, she said, but this initiative provides, “the best medicine, up front, right there in their neighborhood.”

President Obama launched The Cancer Moonshot Initiative January 12, 2016 to “make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.”

NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, MD and NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD shared their perspective on the initiative in the New England Journal of Medicine, May 19, 2016. The time is right now for a renewed surge in cancer research.

“Although key actions and deliverables remain a work in progress, one aim of this new initiative is certain: to inspire a new generation of American visionaries to defy the boundaries of current knowledge about cancer. Unleashing the talents of the scientific community by providing a strong, steady stream of resources should enable biomedical research to accelerate progress in the fight against cancer. We expect these efforts to build a firm foundation for the development of better means of prevention, treatment, and cure for all types of cancer.”

Be a part of Downstate’s medical education
through the Alumni Association


Black Doctors as a Significant Workforce in Health, SUNY Downstate panel 5/12/16

Twenty-five percent of the US population is black or Hispanic, while only 15% percent of doctors are black or Hispanic, according to the Robin Wood Johnson Foundation.* The Downstate community is invited to join a discussion on the importance of this topic as it relates to the field of medicine.

*Browse AAMC diversity data, here.

Downstate Dialogues
Health Science Education Building
Lecture Hall 1A
Thursday, May 12, 2016
1:30-2:30 pm

Moro Salifu, MD, MBA, MPH, FACP, Chair of the Department of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Director of the Kidney Transplant Program at SUNY Downstate
Romain Branch, MD, Residency Program Director for the Department of Psychiatry
Temitope Jose, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Michael A. Joseph, PhD, MPH, Interim Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Deborah Reede, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology

Presented in cooperation with the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a partnership of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

Downstate Dialogues is the Downstate chapter of White Coats for Black Lives

doctor disparity

Contribute to Downstate’s meaningful
work for medical education! Student
support since 1890.
circle logo white on blue

Gloria Glantz shares Holocaust experience at Downstate

Noon, Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Alumni Auditorium

gloria glantz

Gloria Glantz was born in Wegrow Poland in 1939, and fled the Holocaust to live in four countries on two continents before settling in the US. In her professional life as a teacher, it has been her mission to see that the Shoah is not forgotton.

Gloria Glantz has won fellowships from the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, American Federation of Teachers and Jewish Labor Committee to study the Holocaust and Resistance. She is also the 2002 recipient of The Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Educator Award.