News and Stories

Syracuse City School students, parents to learn about health care education and careers

Story from UpOnline

Syracuse City School District (SCSD) families will have a chance to hear from two SCSD alumni now working as doctors at Upstate Medical University as part of upcoming events to educate students and their parents on careers in health care.

The physicians will speak at “Our Kids, Our Future” events March 11 and April 2 at two city high schools. The events are sponsored by Upstate’s College of Health Professions as part of the ongoing partnership with the city school district.

About a year ago, the College of Health Professions launched a mentoring program that involves Upstate faculty, students and clinicians working with students at Henninger High School. Henninger is the designated city high school for students interested in medical careers. Read more.

Alumni News

Congratulations to Jennifer Carey, MS, RRT '89! Jennifer will be assuming the role of Interim Associate Administrator for Cardiovascular Services. She has served as an Associate Administrator with responsibility for the Heart and Vascular Center, Respiratory Therapy, ECMO Program, Clinical Neurophysiology and the Upstate Sleep Center since November 2015. In her role, Jennifer has led effective collaboration and relationship building with medical directors, physicians and employees across Upstate to support quality, safety, operational and service efficiency.

Respiratory Therapy Program in College of Health Professions is honored by national association

Story from UpOnline


A leading national association has recognized the Upstate Medical University Respiratory Therapy Program with a top award for best practices in the profession and promoting patient safety.

The Upstate program, which is part of the College of Health Professions, was named a 2019-2020 Apex Recognition Award winner by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).  Read more.


The new Clinical Pathology Lab is a major feature of the newly expanded Upstate Cancer Center.


New teaching space for Clinical Laboratory Sciences helps put spotlight on program

Story from UpOnline

When some Upstate Medical University alumni return to campus Oct. 16 for a Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) reunion and open house, many will find the department’s lab and classroom spaces unrecognizable.

That’s because for the last year, CLS faculty and staff have been enjoying a fully renovated and expanded department that has significantly changed how the department teaches and has even improved teaching outcomes. Read more.


New master’s degree program will train behavior analysts to help people with autism and related disorders

Story from UpOnline


The College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University has launched a brand-new degree program. The Behavior Analysis Studies master’s program addresses a pressing health concern in New York state–autism. Graduates of the new, six-semester (24-month) program will be licensed health-care professionals able to provide therapeutic services for people with autism and related disorders. That work may include conducting assessments of problem behaviors or language deficits, developing treatments to increase pro-social behavior and caregiver training. Read more


From Ukraine to Upstate, a decade of hard work pays off

Story by Jim McKeever. Follow him at


Andriy Heryak graduated from Upstate's College of Health Professions Sunday, May 20th. He received the Medical Imaging Sciences bachelor's degree program 2018 Outstanding Academic Performance Award.

Upstate student Andriy Heryak will always remember the date his life changed. On January 29, 2008, he and his family arrived from Ukraine to settle with relatives in America. “We didn’t know any English,” Andriy said. “All we knew was what we saw on TV.” A decade later, Andriy will graduate from Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions. Read more.


How a small-town PA found a niche career

Story by Jim Howe  (Photo by Susan Kahn)

Gary Engle is a physician assistant in Lyons Falls and a voluntary preceptor, or trainer, for Upstate's College of Health Professions.

“Physician extenders” — such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners — have proved their worth to health care, especially in small towns and rural areas, where doctors are often scarce.

“Doctors have found out that there is value in having PAs and NPs available. In a rural area, the biggest problem is trying to see all the patients, so if you have a PA or NP that can help you function, you can almost double the amount of patients you care for,” says Gary Engle, a PA at the South Lewis Health Center in Lyons Falls, a family practice satellite clinic of Lowville’s Lewis County General Hospital.  Read more.


Upstate students build 'pipeline' of support for undergrads

Story by Jim McKeever. Follow him at


Upstate students Dominick Vilsaint and Christina Marcelus knew their efforts had been worthwhile. Christina, a second-year medical student, and Dominick, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, welcomed 80 underrepresented students from 10 different colleges to Upstate's "Medical Exposure Day" January 27.

One student said, "Medical school never felt so attainable," Christina said, "To be among medical students who are just like them, who are approachable, and being in an anatomy lab with faculty, made it real. That was huge. And that was my primary goal."

Read more.


DPT student brings yoga program to the great outdoors

Story by Jim McKeever. Follow him at


Visitors to Syracuse’s Thornden Park and Burnet Park last summer occasionally would see a dozen or so young adults, yoga mats spread on the grass, following an experienced instructor going through a series of poses.

That instructor was Upstate DPT student Rebecca Alexander (Class of 2018). Her students were developmentally challenged young adults taking part in “Unified Yoga,” which grew out of an existing program at Southwest Community Center.  Read more.


Katherine Beissner, PT, PhD, tapped to lead college of health professions

Katherine Beissner, PT, PhD, has been named dean of the College of Health Professions.The appointment, effective immediately, was announced by President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP. Beissner has served as interim dean of the College of Health Professions since December 2016. She joined Upstate a year earlier as professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy Education. From 1986 to 2014, she served in a variety of faculty and administrative roles in the Department of Physical Therapy at Ithaca College, including as interim associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance.

Read more.


Susan Graham, MT (ASCP) SHcm receives member excellence in education award

Susan Graham, MT (ASCP)SHCM, has received the Member Excellence in Education award from the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The award recognizes Graham for demonstrating outstanding performance in teaching and for developing effective teaching methods and instructional materials. Graham, associate dean of the College of Health Professions and associate professor of Clinical Laboratory Science, accepted the award Sept. 8 at ASCP’s annual meeting in Chicago.



Father’s stroke changes family dynamic, son’s career path

Story by Jim McKeever. Follow him at

Father’s Day weekend of 2013 marked a turning point in the life of Upstate DPT student John Licata and his family. John’s dad, John Sr., suffered a stroke. He was home alone when it happened, which prevented immediate detection and treatment.

Read more. 

DPT student John Licata, center, at the College of Health Professions White Coat Ceremony in 2015. From left are his niece, Julia Simo; fiancee, Nicole Avery; John; mom Sue Licata; sister Renee Licata



Endowed scholarship for clinical lab sciences honors O'Learys


Upon the retirement of Dr. Colleen E. O’Leary, the Upstate Foundation, Upstate Department of Anesthesiology, and Upstate Administration have established the Colleen E. O’Leary, MD, and Michael R. O’Leary, MD, Endowed Scholarship for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Dr. Colleen O’Leary has served Upstate Medical University in numerous roles, including interim medical director and president of the medical staff at Upstate University Hospital; interim chair, Department of Anesthesiology; and member of the Upstate Foundation board of directors. Along with her husband, Dr. Michael O'Leary, she has been involved in many community-based philanthropic initiatives.

Each year medical laboratories across the country perform more than 7 billion tests and must hire 12,000 employees to keep up with the growing volume of tests ordered by physicians. However, only 5,000 lab professionals graduate annually.

The new scholarship will help Upstate’s College of Health Professions continue to attract the finest candidates for its Clinical Lab Sciences program to help alleviate this critical shortage. The CLS program celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and averages 18 graduates each year.

In addition, the Upstate Foundation and Upstate Administration established the Colleen O'Leary, MD, Endowed Scholarship in 2008 to support a scholarship at the College of Nursing. The O’Learys created the Alfred F. and Shirley D. Enwright Endowed Scholarship at the Upstate Medical Alumni Association.

Donate to the new O'Leary scholarship endowment.

With Distinction blog features Upstate students

Upstate Medical University students do great things on campus, down the street and around the world. They raise money for a fellow student whose home burned down, volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, give up their winter break to help at clinics and orphanages in Haiti.  Our students are a wonderful blend of talents, ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.  Where can you find out more about them?  Check out our With Distinction blog at