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The MD/PhD Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University has approximately 26 students who are in various stages of their training. You can learn about these individual students and their research interest by selecting the link to current students on this page.

Our students receive individual attention from the director of the MD/PhD Program and other faculty members. SUNY Upstate works diligently to be sure each student receives assistance whether it be academic advising, help with scheduling, selecting a laboratory, or figuring out finances. Visiting applicants cited the friendliness of students and staff as one of our most appealing features.

PhD Students

Jamie Patak

Jamie Patak


Department: Neuroscience & Physiology
Advisor: Stephen Faraone, PhD

Research Interests

I began the MD/PhD program in 2013 after doing research at Upstate Medical for just over a year. During that transition time I worked with Dr. Steve Faraone in the neuroscience department and am continuing my work with him and his lab currently. Upstate Medical’s tight-knit atmosphere within the MD/PhD program was of great interest to me when going through the application process, and in combination with the opportunities offered to me through neuroscience, Upstate became my top choice for medical and graduate education. Additionally, I am very familiar with the Syracuse area as I attended Syracuse University for my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry.

My research interests lie in the molecular etiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as we are researching a unique risk gene, SLC9A9, a sodium/hydrogen exchanger found in the late and recycling endosomes. Running the gamut of biology, SLC9A9 is involved in numerous neurodevelopmental processes from synaptic development and pruning, long-term potentiation, neuronal migration, and recycling and processing of synaptic receptors and growth factors. My immediate project rests in the characterization of our knockout mouse model as well as the cellular physiological consequences in heterogeneous cell populations.

In my spare time I enjoy hiking with my wife and two dogs (a border collie and an Australian shepherd) as well as reading and working on my house. Syracuse is a great city filled with cultural diversity and a multitude of things to do, especially for nature enthusiasts. Hiking, mountain climbing, and camping are all close to the top of my list of favorite things to do in the nearby Adirondack Park.