News and Stories


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.

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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.

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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