News and Stories - Archive

CVP alumni, friends of Nicholas Rappa, discuss impact he had on others

Ryan Price and Stefanie Cavanaugh, CVP alumni, classmates and close friends of Nick's, discuss the endowment set up in memory of their friend and the tremendous impact he had on his classmates in this podcast.  Listen here. (Powered by SpecialtyCare, Scrubbing In is a podcast, webinar, and live event series about innovation and those making a change in the operating room).

The legacy of Lucy Reff featured In Good Health newspaper

It is especially difficult when the Upstate campus experiences the untimely loss of a student who is on the threshold of a new stage in life, almost ready to begin their professional career. In January, second year Respiratory Therapy student Lucy Reff lost a brief battle with a sudden illness.

This week, Lucy was featured In Good Health newspaper, a CNY Healthcare publication, and honored for her organ donation.You can read the article here:

Lucy’s family and friends are also raising funds to establish a scholarship in her name. Click here to help reach the goal to endow the scholarship. In the ‘designation’ line, simply click the down arrow and choose ‘other.’ Then type ‘Lucy Reff Scholarship.’


Upstate opens new state-of-the-art simulation center to enhance patient safety and improve quality

Story from UpOnline


Upstate Medical University has opened a new $11 million teaching center that will simulate real-time responses to medical emergencies—in the ICU, labor and delivery, the operating room and in any setting where health care is delivered.

The aim of the Upstate Simulation Center is to improve patient safety and patient care, as well as build highly-trained multidisciplinary healthcare teams.

This new and sophisticated learning environment, totaling about 8,600 square feet will become a hub of teaching and training for students from all areas of the health professions. The center will also be dedicated to improving the competency of health care providers as well as training them in new techniques. Read more


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.






Advance Practice Symposium: 8 Virtual Presentations you can complete at your own pace between September 13  - November 19, 2021

The purpose of the Symposium will be to facilitate the education of Advanced Practice Providers on the distinctive & progressing areas of Sepsis, Pain & Addiction, Care of the LGBTQ Population, PrEP & PEP, Enhancing Patient Experience, Neurology, Palliative Care & Wellness. 

The Symposium is open to all NPs, PAs, CNS, MDs, DOs, Nurses, Residents, Fellows & Students.

See full details on the Symposium brochure HERE.

Register securely HERE.


CHP alumna in the spotlight!

"I was accepted into the SUNY Upstate Medical University, College of Health Professions DPT program in 2012. Words cannot express my gratitude to the faculty and staff of SUNY Upstate. Without them I would not be where I am today.They taught me to be a lifelong learner, to see the big picture, and most importantly, to always be myself."                                                                                                                                                                                                          -Lauren Shirley




Our very own Lauren Shirley, DPT (’16), PT was featured in the May/June edition of the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA) PT newsletter! The NYPTA has over 6,000 members including PTs, PTAs and students.

Read it here.

Congratulations, Lauren!

College of Health Professions highlights alumni

Alumni featured in the CHP newsletter from the following programs:

Click on a program above or click here to read all about them!




Postponed by the pandemic, College of Health Professions celebrates fall 2020 students with White Coat ceremony

The College of Health Professions welcomed students who should have celebrated in August 2020. They were recognized at a formal White Coat Ceremony held at the Medical Alumni Auditorium, Weiskotten Hall, on April 5 - eight months later due to Covid-19 restrictions. The ceremony was a hybrid event, with students and speakers in person; families and friends watched via livestream. Students were distanced in classrooms and viewed the speakers via livestream, then crossed the stage individually as their names were acknowledged.

Professor and Dean of the College of Health Professions, Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT, welcomed the students, “This event usually marks the beginning of professional studies for our students. While the timing is a bit off, I am very pleased to hold this event in person, rather than in a timely manner last fall, but apart.”

Event sponsor Nascentia Health was represented by Chief Clinical Officer Andrea Lazarek-LaQuay, MS, RN, whom Upstate College of Health Professions and the Health Professions Alumni Association share their sincere gratitude for their continued sponsorship.

“Marvel and DC can keep their cape-wearing heroes because we’ve all learned that the real heroes wear white coats,” Lazarek-LaQuay said.

The students were also welcomed by the President of Upstate Medical University, Mantosh Dewan, MD, as well as the President of the Health Professions Alumni Association, Anthony Kurec, MS ’86, MASCP, MLT(ASCP), H, DLM and Ruqiyah Shaik, vice president for the College of Health Professions, Upstate Student Government Medical Biotechnology, Class of 2021, and others.

The white coats are a gift to first year students from the Health Professions Alumni Association.

Click here to view the ceremony in its entirety.

Forbes names Upstate Medical University #35 of 500 of "America's Best Large Employers" for 2021

Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the companies liked best by employees in our annual ranking of America's best large employers. Read more


Once a Syrian refugee, now a respiratory therapy student

Story by Susan Keeter

Fidaa Aljabbarin, a respiratory therapy student at Upstate, whispers “so terrible” when she describes her brother’s fatal asthma attack. She remembers Anas, 15, struggling to breathe, their father putting him into the family car and racing to a hospital in Damascus, Syria. Soldiers at a road block forced them to turn back. Helpless, their father watched as Anas gasped. He died in the car. 

Her family escaped Syria in 2013, and lived as refugees in Jordan for several years. There, Aljabbarin learned some basic English language words — chair, couch, boy, girl. Her family — mother, father, six brothers and two sisters — applied to be accepted in the USA as refugees. They waited. Read more.

A message from your Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association

One of our alumni recently emailed to say, "I have this incredible urge to put on a white coat and sit at a bench to help out. After being away from a pipette or microscope for 20 years - I probably would hinder rather than help."

The Covid-19 situation has reawakened that need that led all of us into health care in the first place, a fundamental desire to help others.


Many of you are leading the way on the front lines, and for that we are profoundly grateful.

If you are among those in a position to help, your support is needed. Our students are facing many sudden and unexpected challenges, which may go on for some time. Students in three CHP programs will not graduate on time, which brings with it a host of complications.

Upstate's Student Retention Emergency Fund #44555 will help address some of these student needs, such as housing, transportation, food, technology for remote learning, and other basic needs. 

THANK YOU for all you do, every day, whether you're in the thick of it or isolating at home.


Read the Corona Virus Special Edition of Upstate Health magazine here.


CHP Alumni COVID-19 Updates: Information, resources, news and more:

Heart warming thank you video from Stony Brook University Hospital

Thank you to Upstate Chief Nursing Officer, Nancy Page, MSN, RN, NEA-BC for sharing the wonderful video of Stony Brook University Hosptial, thanking the Upstate respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy techs for their assistance during the Covid surge. Watch here.

CHP Alumnus shares his experiences from the front lines of COVID-19

Story from

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen many Central New Yorkers come together to help one another, including our healthcare workers. Upstate alumnus, Jason Meany, RT, BS '14, put his scuba business on hold to go back to his previous job as a respiratory therapist at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital and help his colleagues. Watch his story.

Upstate plays crucial role in managing emergency COVID-19 hospital at Javits Center in NYC

Story from Upstate News

Emergency Medicine physician Christopher Tanski, MD, MSEd, is working as the chief medical officer and Director of Nursing Recruitment and Retention Rebecca Milczarski, MSN, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, is working as chief nursing officer at the Javits Center. Division Chief of Hospital Medicine Housam Hegazy, MD, MLS, SFHM, FACP, CHCQM, is also on site assisting his Upstate peers. Read more.

Upstate University Hospital sending another team to Stony Brook Hospital on Long Island

Story from Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.

On April 14, another contingent from Upstate University Hospital headed downstate to help in the fight against COVID-19. The week prior nearly two dozen nurses got a hero's sendoff as they headed to Stony Brook on Long Island. 12 nurses, two respiratory technicians, three pharmacists and five pharmacy technicians traveled to assist efforts at Stony Brook Hospital. Read more.

In scary times, humanity brings us together, pulls us through

Story from Upstatenews

Prateek Harne, MD, a resident physician in internal medicine at Upstate, is interviewed by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper about his experience caring for the first person in Onondaga County to die of the coronavirus. Read more.

Ways that you can -- and should -- continue activity, even in isolation

Story from Upstate's HealthLink on Air

Even as people are sheltering in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Upstate exercise physiologist Carol Sames, PhD associate professor or Physical Therapy and assistant professor of Physician Assistant Studies, stresses the importance of staying active through exercise. She talks about ways to get a cardio workout or do strength training when you no longer have access to a fitness center. She also goes over the current recommendations for exercise: 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, plus two or three sessions of strength training and some flexibility training. Sames directs the Vitality Fitness Programs at Upstate. Read more.

How respiratory therapists prepare for the front lines of COVID-19 treatment

Story from Upstate's HealthLink on Air

Respiratory therapist Michele Pedicone discusses the importance of ventilators and respiratory therapists who care for some patients infected with the coronavirus. She explains how respiratory therapists train for such work, such as through the four-year program offered through Upstate's College of Health Professions, where Pedicone is an assistant professor of respiratory therapy. Read more.

Alumna's story written for Sirius XM host is tweeted to 200,000 followers

Michael Smerconish is a host on Sirius XM. He and the President of the United States host a program on CNN. Recently, Smerconish shared an essay on Twitter written by Patricia L. Carroll, RN-BC, RRT '77, MS, "The Hidden Heroes of COVID-19: Respiratory Therapists." Pat Carroll began her career as a respiratory therapist then, became a nurse. Read her story here.

Cuomo wants more ventilators, but are there enough specialists to run them?

Story from

Claire Aloan, MS, RT '74, RRT-NPS, FAARC, director of the college's Respiratory Therapy program, explains how critical the expertise of respiratory therapists in the use of ventilators. Read more.



Application of Pain Sciences – February 20 & 24 - save the dates!

Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

Upstate Medical University Department of PT Education, is pleased to offer Advanced Applications of Pain Sciences. This two-day REMOTE learning (8 contact hours) post professional continuing education course will help you to update knowledge, enhance clinical decision making, and transform practice.

Day One: Saturday, February 20 – 8 am to 2:30 pm
Day Two: Wednesday, February 24 –6:30 to 8:30 pm

This will be hosted over Zoom and links will be sent to registrants prior to the course.

Instructor:   Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

     Assistant Professor, Ithaca College Physical Therapy Department

     Instructor and Mentor, Cayuga Medical Center Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency

     and Spine Fellowship Programs


Click here for course description and registration


Upstate's front line pushes hard to save lives through pandemic

© N. Scott Trimble | Scott Trimble | 

A medical technician grabs equipment on the Upstate University Hospital Covid ICU floor Wednesday, December 16, 2020. N

Story from

The county’s daily average of hospitalizations over the past week was 324. Compare that with 302 daily hospitalizations during the previous week, according to the county data.

"Today, 324 people are hospitalized," county executive RyanMcMahon reported. "Of those patients, 47 are in intensive care. Another 20 are awaiting a negative test before being released."

McMahon said Monday’s new case numbers may also be down. He suggested through his Twitter account that the most recent data may show that the spike in cases after Thanksgiving may be subsiding. “Hopefully we will not see a Christmas Surge,” he added.

Read more.

After 1st vaccinations in Syracuse, SUNY Chancellor celebrates Upstate's achievements during pandemic

Story by Andrew Donovan

From Albany, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras was watching as the first people were vaccinated against coronavirus at Upstate Medical University.

Malatras wants the community and state to celebrate not only the first shots in arms but Upstate’s role in developing the Pfizer vaccine.

Upstate coordinated people to be participants in the vaccine trial and its chief infectious disease doctor, Dr. Stephen Thomas, was the lead principal investigator in the study.

Watch WSYR-TV video here

Upstate’s Dr. Stephen Thomas to participate at FDA vaccine hearing


Stephen Thomas, MD

Story by Emily Kulkus

Upstate’s chief of infectious disease, Stephen J. Thomas, MD, will participate at a public hearing Thursday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers whether to issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Thomas is the coordinating principal investigator for the world-wide Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, which is showing more than 94 percent efficacy in preventing COVID-19. Upstate serves as one of the global phase three vaccine trial locations.

Read more.


Upstate Strong - Free Thank-You Concert! Friday, December 4



Friday, December 4, from 7-8pm

The Upstate Foundation's sponsor supported, free-to-the-public streaming concert is a thank you to Upstate Medical University's front-line workers, health care providers and researchers, and members of the Central New York community who have supported and continue to support Upstate University Hospital during the pandemic.


We can't wait for you to join us this Friday!
Click here for viewing on Friday.

Upstate's the answer for Downstate Twins

Radiation therapy student and 2020 recipient of the Thomas Grady Scholarship for Radiation Therapy, Chelsea Merine '21 plots a radiation treatment under the supervision of Tierney Dygert, RT(T) '09, clinical education coordinator,  at the tomography machine in the Upstate Cancer Center.

Story by Susan Keeter

A 15-week internship at a cancer center transformed Chelsea Merine’s life plan. “I never saw myself as a ‘science person’ but when I shadowed a radiation therapist, I loved the technology and the human interaction.”

At the time, Chelsea was working on an associate’s degree in social sciences at Rockland Community College, located near her childhood home and 50 miles north of Manhattan. The internship was required but Chelsea was enchanted by the friendships that developed between the radiation therapists and cancer patients during the multiple days of treatments. She graduated with an associate’s degree, and went to SUNY Binghamton.  Read more.


CHP Alumna will be recognized on special live website, September 10

Charlene Hubbell, BS '69, MT(ASCP) SBB, among others, will be recognized at Upstate's annual Employee Recognition Day (ERD).

Like many other events during this pandemic, Upstate’s annual Employee Recognition Day (ERD), that was set for Sept. 10, will be virtual, in a way.

To ensure everyone’s safety, large gatherings such as ERD cannot occur this year. The gathering usually attracts more than 600 employees for a luncheon celebration at the Oncenter. This year the recognition of more than 1,200 employees celebrating five-year milestones of service will be rolled out on a special website:, which goes live September 10.

“We’re certainly disappointed that we cannot gather in person for this special event,” said Gwynne Conway, co-chair of the ERD committee, with Sharon Adkins. “However, we want to ensure that we celebrate the outstanding work of our employees and recognize them for their dedication to Upstate, and we’ll do that online this year.”   Read more

Watch Employee Recognition Day, Live, here.


Cardiovascular Perfusion team, alumni, launch first ECMO Specialist Certification exam

From left, Bruce Searles, Jeff Riley, Ed Darling

Story from Upstate News

An Upstate Medical University professor led the team of specialists from across the country to develop the first certification exam for an advanced piece of operating room equipment that is being used frequently with severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Jeffrey Riley, MHPE, CCP Emeritus, LP, a research associate professor in the department of cardiovascular perfusion at Upstate, along with alumni Edward Darling, MS, CCP and Bruce Searles, MS '93, CP are leading and developing the first ECMO Specialist Certification Exam. Riley has been a perfusionist—the person who operates the heart-lung machines during open-heart surgery and life-support equipment in the ICU—for 46 years, with most of his career spent at the Mayo Clinic. Read more...


PT professor teams with associate dean, professor at the College of Nursing to discuss importance of sleep during recovery from stroke

With excerpts from Upstate's HealthLink On Air

Problems with sleep can worsen a person's health in the year after a stroke. Discussing their research on this topic are physical therapist George Fulk, PhD, PT, FAPTA, professor of physical therapy in the Upstate College of Health Professions, and nurse Karen Klingman, PhD, RN, associate dean and associate professor in the Upstate College of Nursing. They explain their recommendations for those who are recovering from a stroke, and why sleep is so important for recovery. 

"It's a challenging process, yet we had few revisions with our research project," said Dr. Klingman. "We received help from our peer reviewers who had given a lot of their time to this project and gave constructive feedback," she added.

Click here to see their research project.

Click here to hear their discussion.

Live Webinar by Martin Finn, JD, CPA, LL.M.

Tuesday, July 28, 2:00 to 3:30 pm

Complimentary to all SUNY alumni, faculty & staff

A world-wide health crisis and the resulting economic turmoil have caused individuals to take a new look at their estate and financial planning, including the charitable aspects of that planning. This free webinar will review the essential estate planning strategies that every individual needs to consider in these trying times. Specific focus will be placed on recent legislation, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the SECURE Act and the CARES Act, and their impact on the choice of proper planning strategies. Questions and answers will follow as time permits.

REGISTER TO ATTEND                                        

About our Presenter:

Martin S. Finn is a Founding Partner of the Albany, NY-area law firm Lavelle & Finn, LLP. As an attorney and CPA, Marty brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding when advising clients on tax and legal matters, such as maximizing wealth and retirement income, personal and corporate tax planning, business counseling, estate and business succession planning and elder law services. 

Learn more at:


College of Health Professions faculty member, named one of ten Gold Standard Faculty Award winners


       Erin Wentz

Congratulations to Erin Wentz, PhD, PT, PCS, assistant professor, Department of Physical Therapy Education, College of Health Professions!

The awards recognize faculty for “work exemplifying the missions of Upstate, with particular emphasis on professionalism, work ethic and character.”

"We are very proud of all of our amazing Upstate faculty and it is with great pleasure that we recognize these Gold Standard winners,” said Interim Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD. “With their excellence, commitment and dedication to our missions, they exemplify the best in us. But what makes this award special is that each one was honored by their peers. Congratulations to all.”

Listen to the script read by Dr. Katherine Beissner, Dean of the College of Health Professions, presenting the 2020 Gold Standard Award to Dr. Erin Wentz.

To read more about the Gold Standard Awards and other recipients, click here.

Respiratory Therapy Alumna participates with researchers and physicians from around the world

Story from the College of Health Professions

Physicians and researchers all over the world are sharing research and information on what works, and doesn’t work, in the struggle against COVID-19. “Hundreds of papers are coming out every week,” said Upstate Medical University College of Graduate Studies Dean Mark Schmitt, PhD. “Clinicians just don’t have time to go through it.”

Schmitt, other faculty members and student volunteers at Upstate Medical University created an effort to read through literature, look for the most useful information, and share it with Upstate’s Incident Command team on a weekly basis. Ashley Miller, BSRC, '20 of the Respiratory Therapy program who received the programs Academic Achievement Award as well as induction into Lambda Beta, the national honor society for the profession, actively participated with this group, bringing the perspective of Respiratory Therapists as critical front-line members to the COVID-19 team.

“Students have been a fantastic auxiliary work force,” said Christopher Morley, PhD, chair of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Upstate. The students’ work has been instrumental in creating models used by the Incident Command team coordinating the University’s response to the outbreak."

Upstate's Respiratory Therapy Program honored with credentialing success award

Story from Upstate News

Congratulations to the Respiratory Therapy Program for being recognized with the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)! The dedication from the faculty to teaching has made a huge impact in lives of many. Read the story here.

Med Tech alumnus spearheads efforts for a safe return to campus

Excerpts from the College of Health Professions

1997 Medical Technology Alum, Paul Suits, MT '97, BS, CIC is leading efforts to provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff to return to the Upstate campus. Paul has a national certification in Infection Control and is the Director of the Department of Infection Prevention at Upstate. Paul will collaborate with teams and individuals to create infection prevention strategies, provide feedback, and sustain infection prevention strategies. Thank you for all your great work, Paul!

DPT alumnus explains why physical therapy is necessary in Covid-19 recovery

Zachary Boswell, DPT '16 and 2015 recipient of the Kevin J. Reistrom Memorial Scholarship, explains in a podcast why physical therapy is necessary for people who are recovering from a Covid-19 infection. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy in Upstate's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Listen to his podcast here.


College of Health Professions seeking Assistant Professor in Clinical Laboratory Science

SUNY Upstate Medical University is seeking qualified applicants for a 12-month tenure track position as Assistant Professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science Department.  Primary responsibilities include development and delivery of lecture and laboratory courses in Blood Banking to include coordinating clinical rotations; planning curricula; and preparation of examinations/student assessments. Participation in scholarly and professional activities pertinent to the field required. Other responsibilities include oversight of student capstone projects, academic advising of selected students in the department, and participation in departmental faculty meetings, student recruitment activities, and program accreditation. Click here for more details.

'07 Alumnus, Assistant Professor of CLS and Microbiology and Immunology is June 2020 recipient of the Exceptional Moments in Teaching Recognition

DPT student leads Upstate's involvement in the Heart Walk for American Heart Association

Four of the two dozen who participated, and helped Team Upstate lead the local fund-raising challenge, were (clockwise from top left) Jessica Degina, Adrianne Marquez, Erica Hecht and Jocelyn Penteck.

Story by Charles Mcchesney

Upstate College of Health Professions doctor of physical therapy student Jessica Degina, a member of the class of 2021, continued a tradition of having DPT students help organize Upstate’s involvement. 

“The students really organize it, I just help,” said George Fulk, PT, PhD, chair of the Physical Therapy program. Helping includes motivating students, he explained. Each year, the student who raises the most for the Heart Walk receives a copy of his book on physical therapy, “Physical Rehabilitation,” with co-authors Susan B. O’Sullivan and Thomas J. Schmitz. Read more.

Upstate’s new 419 graduates have first-ever virtual commencement

Story from Upstate News

Upstate Medical University conducted its first-ever virtual commencement on May 1st conferring degrees on 419 students who graduated from the Colleges of Health Professions, Nursing, Medicine and Graduate Studies.

Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD, praised members of the class of 2020 for their resilience and dedication to a field centered on helping others.

“More than ever, we need each and every one of you,” Dewan said. “Close your eyes and walk across a splendid stage and out into a temporarily troubled world as a graduate and a hero.” 

New York Health Commissioner Harold Zucker, MD, JD, was the ceremony’s featured speaker.  The ceremony included a message from Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon who congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to stay and work in Central New York. Also addressing graduates were Dean of Student Affairs Julie White, PhD; College of Nursing Dean Tammy Austin-Ketch, PhD, FNP; College of Health Professions Dean Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT; College of Medicine Dean Lawrence Chin, MD; and College of Graduate Studies Dean Mark Schmitt, PhD. Student speakers included Heather Bedard, College of Nursing; Amber Walker, College of Health Professions; Yaa Takyiwaa and Jared Sweeney, MD, College of Medicine; and Adam Blanden, College of Graduate Studies. Read more.

Dean Beissner recognizes each 2020 CHP graduate individually

Thank you to Dean Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT and her Reception Planning Committee for highlighting each and every graduate of the class of '20 Health Professions programs in a special Commencement Reception video.

The Reception Planning Committee included class of 2020 CHP graduates Damian Hall, Tara McDonald, Christine Meore, Amber Walker and CHP Faculty Dale Avers, DPT, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Dominick DeMichele, MSEd., RT(R)(CT), Karen Thrasher, MS, RPA-C and Erin Wentz, PhD, PT, PCS. A special thanks to Linda Curry, CHP Dean's office and Steve Marks from Educational Communications.  Congratulations to the College of Health Professions, Class of 2020.

Watch 2020 CHP Commencement Reception Video


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