News and Stories - 2017-2019

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




News and Stories - 2016

SYRACUSE, NY — The State University of New York Board of Trustees today (Sept. 10, 2015) appointed Danielle Laraque-Arena, M.D., FAAP, currently chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center and vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn, as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. Laraque-Arena also currently is professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. Laraque-Arena will be the first woman to lead the university. Her appointment is effective January 14, 2016. Read more.

News and Stories - 2015

Physical Therapy Program combats smoking on campus

PTdayofservice_2015Students and faculty of the College of Health Professions Physical Therapy Program collaborated with members of Upstate’s Tobacco Free Task Force to recognize Global PT Day of Service, Oct. 17, by clearing cigarette litter and distributing smoke cessation coupons on campus. Participating in the event, front row, from left, are Katherine Beissner, PT, PhD, chair of the DPT program; and students Jason Sheehan, Matt Carey, Christopher Herbs, Ema Kraut, Professor Gary Brooks, PT, DrPH, student Lauren Shirley. Health Professions Dean Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH. Missing from photograph is Theresa Hankin, RRT, CTTS, tobacco treatment specialist for the Upstate Cancer Center.

Licensing Board taps Bruce Searles

CHP-News-Bruce SearlesThe newly established State Education Board that will oversee the implementation of a licensing track for perfusionists, has tapped Upstate’s Bruce Searles as a member. Searles and then-College of Health Professions Dean Hugh Bonner were strong advocates of the licensing issue which was championed by our local legislative delegation.

SUNY Trustees approve Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University

SYRACUSE, NY — The State University of New York Board of Trustees today (Sept. 10, 2015) appointed Danielle Laraque-Arena, M.D., FAAP, currently chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center and vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn, as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. Laraque-Arena also currently is professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. Laraque-Arena will be the first woman to lead the university. Her appointment is effective January 14, 2016. Read more.

Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH, named dean of the College of Health Professions

Donald SimpsonAugust 2015--The people at Upstate are a key reason why Donald D. Simpson, PhD, MPH, accepted the position as the new dean of the College of Health Professions at Upstate Medical University. “What appealed to me at Upstate is primarily the people—individuals committed to improving the lives of others; faculty and staff seeking innovative ways to deliver curriculum; and students committed to the communities they seek to serve,” he said. To read more, click here.

Physician Assistant Program awarded HRSA grant

July 2015--The Upstate Physician Assistant program has received word that it has been awarded a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Although this is a five-year grant, funding is awarded annually. Year 01 (current) award is $227,737.00. The recommended future support on the Notice of Award is as follows:
Year 2 - $264,978.00
Year 3 - $267, 516.00
Year 4 - $269, 460.00
Year 5 - $269,352.00

This grant focuses on enhancement of the clinical training year for PA students. The plan is to develop a "continuity of care" curriculum during the clinical year that is modeled after the College of Medicine's Rural Medicine Program.

Upstate’s program proposal of a continuity of care experience is modeled after the longitudinal integrated clerkship model of medical education and includes interdisciplinary clinical training for PA and medical students in a community-based team concept with one clinician serving as the preceptor for both students simultaneously. The structure of this unique clinical experience provides students the opportunity to fully engage in continuity experiences with preceptors, patients and families at both the health care delivery and community levels, with a primary goal of practicing team-based medical care as well as recruiting primary care providers to these communities.

Funding from this grant will support a Clinical PA Faculty position, clinical site development and monitoring, educational software, individual licenses for clinical tracking of patient access and quality assurance measures, faculty development and administrative support.

Retiring dean tells what drives demand for CHP grads

July 2015--Two things help explain why the graduates of Upstate’s College of Health Professions will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, according to Hugh Bonner, PhD.

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act both ensure a healthy job market for the physical, radiation and respiratory therapists, the physician assistants and all others with CHP degrees, says Bonner, who is retiring after 20 years as dean of the college.

“Between 2000 and 2030, we will double the population of those 65 and older. We’ll go from essentially 35 million to 70 million people. That population also has a large number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes,” Bonner said in a recent interview for Upstate’s “HealthLink on Air” radio show. To read more of the interview, click here.

CHP Tie-dyed T-ShirtStart Summer Off Right with a Colorful
CHP T-Shirt!

Celebrate the multidisciplinary nature of patient care with a tie-dyed T-shirt. Proceeds benefit the work of the CHP Alumni Association in support of the College of Health Professions. The price of just $15 includes postage and handling. Contact the Health Professions Alumni Office at (315) 464-4416 or or visit us in the CAB - Room 326.

Patricia Duffy retires after 40 years as a member of the Upstate community

Patricia DuffyJuly 2015--An accident she had as a junior high cheerleader that led to multiple X-rays with the help of a kind technologist spurred Patricia (Finocchiaro) Duffy, MPS, RT(R)(CT)’72 into a long, rewarding career. She spent most of her 45 years in radiology at Upstate – 40years to be exact. Two of those were as an imaging student, Class of ’72.  A staff technologist at University Hospital since 1977, Duffy joined the faculty in 1981, becoming assistant director and clinical coordinator. She later served almost a decade as chair and program director, returning to clinical coordinator afterwards. For more about Pat Duffy and the fund established in her honor to enhance MIS clinical education, click here.

Dean Bonner's retirement marks 20 years of progress

Upon the announcement by Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, that he will retire this summer, the University community reflected on how  markedly improved he leaves the College of Health Professions.

“Hugh Bonner was one of my first administrative hires at Upstate when I first became president in 1995, and I have always  considered it among my best,” said Interim President Gregory  Eastwood, MD. “Dr. Bonner’s imprint on the quality preparation  of our graduates will be felt for years to come.” 

Dr. Bonner guided the College to become a true upper division and graduate institution, reflecting the increase in professionalism and licensure requirements. He helped lead the College toward licensure standards for both medical laboratory technology and perfusion. The MS Physician Assistant program vaulted to one of the state’s best, and the post-graduate DPT provided licensed Physical Therapists an opportunity to earn their doctorate.

A master’s medical microbiology program and new baccalaureate tracks in medical biotechnology, medical sonography, MRI and CT, were also developed. As a result, the College has grown in numbers and prestige – from 200 full-time students in 1995 to more than 400 today. Dr. Bonner helped to secure $4.5 million in federal, state and local grants as well as numerous equipment donations.

His service in national agencies for health education and specialized accreditation has brought national stature to the College. His offices have included: past president of CAAHEP, board member of NAACLS, representative on the Commission of Accreditation for Respiratory Care; and member of the NYS Respiratory Care Licensing Board (10 years). He is a site visitor for the Commission on Accreditation for PT Education.

To develop a dialogue among academic deans and CEOs of nursing and health professions accreditation societies, Dr. Bonner co-hosted national meetings under the auspices of CAAHEP and the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). He served two ASAHP board terms, and has been an ASAHP Fellow since 2005. In 2010, he received the Darrell Mase Presidential Citation – the society’s most prestigious honor for leadership in allied health education. Dr. Bonner also is a contributing editor for the Journal of Allied Health.

Dr. Bonner’s active role in NY-AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) has strengthened linkages to better meet the needs of rural medically underserved communities. He served on its board since it began in 1997 and was confirmed by Congress to serve on its federal oversight advisory committee. He provided a strong voice for the health professions in regional high schools, colleges and hospitals and he worked to prepare the health professions workforce to serve in these communities.

“Hugh Bonner gave a face to the College of Health Professions and Upstate Medical University,” said Dan Hurley, assistant vice president for Government and Community Relations. For instance, the Dean’s Leadership Coffee receptions for local elected officials and community leaders have been “a valuable conduit to grow relationships and build supporters of the College.”

Dr. Bonner has “walked the walk” in many levels of community engagement, building important relationships on the alumni board and among the over 4,000 CHP alumni along the way. “He has been a staunch supporter and participant at alumni events,” noted Alumni Association President Josie Przepiora: “It has been my pleasure to serve beside him.” 

The CHP Alumni Association wishes Dr. Bonner and his wife Lynnette all the best as they move to Georgia, closer to their daughter, two sons and six grandchildren.


MimiPfeifferThe Alumni Association sends condolences to the family of Mimi Pfeiffer upon her passing on December 6, 2014, at age 58 in Wilmington, NC. Mimi was the association’s first alumni director, leading it from a fledgling group in 1991 into a well-established organization. By the time she retired in 2002, she had nurtured the  group into an active association membership with a strong annual fund campaign supporting 20 annual student scholarships, and two faculty enrichment awards. She  then worked part-time as a communications design specialist for the Upstate Foundation. In 2005, Mimi moved with her husband, Rick, to North Carolina where she  worked at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Mimi is fondly remembered for being an alumni advocate and dedicated Upstate colleague, as well as for  her personal kindness and many talents. She will be missed!

NIH Funded Study Led by PT Educator
January 2014 -- A four-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine treatment for a common flatfoot disorder is being led by Christopher Neville PT, PhD, associate professor of Physical Therapy at Upstate.  Adults aged 40 and older with flatfoot due to Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD) may be eligible to participate in the Upstate clinical trial. The trial will test various ankle braces used to treat the disorder and findings will determine which brace design is most successful to use clinically and will provide insight for future device development. For more information, contact the Motion Analysis Laboratory at 315-464-9966 or