[Skip to Content]

SUNY Upstate taps trauma expert to serve as surgery chair

Paul Cunningham, M.D., professor and chief of the division of general surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has been named chair of the department of surgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University. The appointment was announced by Michael Roizen, M.D., vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine.

Cunningham replaces Frederick Parker, M.D., who retired earlier this year. Cunningham is expected to join the Upstate faculty early next Spring.

A native of Jamaica, Cunningham has been affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine since 1984, holding a variety of posts, including interim director of the division of transplantation. He has also served as medical director of the trauma service and chief of staff at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, the 731-bed teaching hospital for East Carolina University School of Medicine.

"We are delighted to welcome Dr. Cunningham to Upstate Medical University," Roizen said. "Dr. Cunningham brings with him a record of outstanding accomplishment in research, administration and clinical practice. All of Central New York will benefit from his concern for community health issues and rural medicine.

"Dr. Cunningham's experience is particularly important to Upstate," Roizen continued. "He has helped integrate community and university surgeons enabling one set of operating rooms to serve both and the community economically and efficiently."

As chair of the Department of Surgery, Cunningham will oversee one of the largest departments at SUNY Upstate. The department, which includes 20 physicians, features such services as the Clark Burn Center, transplant, trauma center, the Breast Care Center and cardiac surgery.

Cunningham's research interests include surgical care for the aging, morbid obesity, injury prevention, access to trauma care in rural areas and minority access to transplantation. In conjunction with the United Network for Organ Sharing in Richmond, Va., Cunningham authored a 1992 report that found in minority groups join the wait list for kidney transplantation with greater frequency than their Caucasian counterparts, and wait much longer before being transplanted. The disparity, he said, continues today.

Cunningham is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a founding member of the American Society of Minority Health and Transplant Professionals and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons as well as other medical societies.

From 1991-1998 Cunningham served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corp. Cunningham received his medical degree from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and completed his residency in surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center, New York, N.Y. He served as chief resident in the department of surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center.