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New president, expansions, collaborations, accolades highlight 2016

New president, expansions, collaborations, accolades highlight 2016

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- January 2016 ushered in a new era for Upstate Medical University when Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, became the university’s seventh president, the first woman ever to assume this role. Chancellor Nancy Zimpher officially installed Laraque-Arena April 15 during ceremonies that highlighted the many cultures represented among Upstate’s student body. At the event, Laraque-Arena announced a new series of presidential symposia titled Connected to the Future. The first in the series, held in October, focused on genetics and precision medicine. The series will continue through 2017.

2016 also was a year marked by campus expansions, redesigns, and moves; collaborations to meet health care needs, locally and globally; and new initiatives and accolades in patient care, education and community giving.

Here are a few of the many highlights:

Infrastructure and Sustainability

Upstate’s new Academic Building opened Sept. 7, housing the College of Nursing, select programs of the College of Health Professions and serving as a site for College of Medicine courses. A new ambulatory care center will be built, aided by a $70.6 million state grant, that will house primary care, behavioral health and specialty services, and a variety of other patient care services that will support a patient’s transition from acute medical care facilities back into the community. A new $3 million pediatric emergency department at the Downtown Campus was unveiled Aug. 9, doubling the size of its former unit and providing children’s emergency care in a location separate from that of adults. Upstate opened the Medical Innovation and Novel Discovery Center--Upstate MIND--the newest feature of the CNY Biotech Accelerator that promises to be Central New York’s newest hot spot to nurture startups and facilitate innovative thinking in science, medicine, engineering, business and product development. In a phased-in move, Upstate relocated 400 of its employees closer to campus at the Galleries of Syracuse, adding to the downtown workforce. Always a leader in sustainability, Upstate won the 2016 Environmental Excellence Award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for its sustainability efforts, leading to dramatic decreases in the institution’s carbon footprint.


The Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected Upstate and a team of Syracuse organizations to participate in the Invest Health initiative where Upstate will connect with a vibrant learning community of cities carrying out efforts toward improved health. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center teamed up with Upstate University Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, bringing to five the number of regional hospitals partnering with Upstate University Hospital on stroke care. Precision medicine is the foundation of the SUNY Institute for Precision Cancer Research, Education and Care (IPCREC), a new initiative of Upstate Medical and its partners. And, Boston IVF and Upstate announced a partnership that is bringing advanced fertility services to individuals and couples in central New York.

Upstate University Hospital

Upstate was named a National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) Center for Care and Treatment of Pancreas Disease, one of only 37 medical institutions nationwide and the only one in New York outside of New York City. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognized Upstate with elite designations, demonstrating to patients that Upstate provides the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized guidelines. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield designated Upstate as one of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation. The Community Campus was also recognized by The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement as one of only 60 out of more than 600 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals to achieve meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care. Upstate became the first hospital in New York state to receive designation as a Center of Excellence for Hip & Knee Replacement by DNV GL-Healthcare, a national hospital-accrediting agency. The state Department of Health awarded Upstate a five-year $1 million grant to support Upstate’s newly created program to keep vulnerable populations free of HIV. Health & Hospitals Networks listed Upstate as a 2016 Most Wired Hospital by use of technology to streamline patient care, create simpler and more accessible interactions for patients and increase clinical efficiencies.


Upstate and its partners received nearly $2 million in funding from SUNY to recruit top researchers to advance initiatives for more precise approaches for disease treatment and prevention and to create pathways for biostatics/bioinformatics educational programs. Upstate launched the Global Maternal Child and Pediatric Health Program to address the global health issues women face during pregnancy and children face during early childhood. Upstate research that is leading to a greater understanding of how to control the spread of mosquito-borne Zika and dengue viruses is among nine projects in the nation that collectively received $1.7 million in rapid response, or RAPID, grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund Inc. continues to sponsor two annual endowed lectureships focused on breast cancer developments and to annually support five breast cancer research studies at Upstate with $250,000 in funding through its allocations program.

The academic experience

Upstate President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, awarded 479 degrees and 3 professional certificates to graduates of Upstate’s four colleges at Commencement in May. The biomedical and clinical research initiatives, evidence-based practices and case studies of 112 students from Upstate’s four colleges were spotlighted at the Charles R. Ross Memorial Student Research Day, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of Academic Affairs and the College of Graduate Studies. Upstate announced its new class of Presidential Student Ambassadors--23 students who represent various academic programs at Upstate and who serve as student representatives at various university functions, both on campus and off.

- In March, 98 percent of College of Medicine students were matched with residency positions--surpassing the national match rate of 94 percent. In all, 155 Upstate medical students participated in the 2016 National Match Day event. Also this year, Upstate established its first fellowship in addiction psychiatry, approved by The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. It is only one of eight such fellowships in New York. A new curriculum for incoming first-year medical students was introduced by Upstate, featuring greater integration of basic and clinical sciences and incorporating the addition of small group problem-solving classes aimed at increasing discussion of clinical, ethical, social, and population health-related cases early in one’s medical education experience.

- The College of Graduate Studies hired a dedicated person to run its Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the newly created Office of Graduate Career Development; it provided a robust schedule of development workshops for their students, including a required program specifically for its incoming students called “Six Steps to Success” and a more extensive program for students. Several female graduate students are mentoring girls from around the globe as part of the “1000 Girls, 1000 Futures” program, sponsored by the Global STEM Alliance, an international initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) and Graduate Studies created a monthly newsletter, “Upstate Grad Update,” that includes recent publications, grant awards, events in the College, alumni news and meetings that students attend, also highlighted on the college’s Facebook page.

- Key outcomes for the College of Nursing include growth in enrollment, an increase in research scholarship, changes in leadership, and progress in improving processes through committee work. The college also received full accreditation for its DNP program, and will soon launch an online BS degree program.

- The College of Health Professions is collaborating with the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) and other partners on an early college high school program for SCSD students who are interested in becoming clinical laboratory technicians, helping to meet the growing demand for clinical laboratory medicine professionals.

Philanthropy and community outreach

- The Upstate Foundation raised more than $6.5 million in 2016, awarding more than $6.0 million to support Upstate’s programs and services, patients, faculty, students and researchers. Along with Upstate physicians, nurses, other health care professionals and hospital leadership, the Foundation’s Grateful Patient & Family Program raised more than $350,000 in its second year and through the Foundation’s 2015 Friend in Deed campaign, nearly $84,000 was awarded to 28 patient care, research and patient education initiatives. In August, the Foundation celebrated the philanthropic spirit of the Central New York community when Upstate’s new pediatric emergency department was unveiled, made possible in part by more than $1 million from generous donors. John P. Gleason, CFRE, CAP®, was hired to develop and implement a comprehensive legacy giving program for the Foundation and Upstate was included as a beneficiary in six bequests this year. The Health Professions and Nursing alumni associations conducted a small campaign for equipment and other needs in the new Academic Building and the Nursing Alumni Association supported the first official event in the building, the College of Nursing’s annual Convocation and Pinning Ceremony. One of the Foundation’s more than 900 funds is providing seed money for a pancreatic cancer research project being conducted by principal investigator Leszek Kotula, MD, PhD, and Rahul Seth, MD, as clinical collaborator, and surgeon Dilip Kittur, MD. In addition, Brighter Beginnings, Upstate’s Campaign for Newborns began raising funds to help renovate and expand the 53-year-old maternity unit and nursery at Upstate’s Community Campus. Proceeds of $357,000 from the 2016 gala were directed toward the project. The Foundation’s assets managed total more than $150 million.

- At this year’s Scholarship Awards Presentation, the Medical Alumni Foundation awarded nearly $400,000 in scholarships, professorships and fellowships to more than 100 medical students. Scholarships continue to be the Medical College’s most critical area in need of support. This year, supporters of the Alumni Foundation established several new funds including the McAnarney Family Scholarship; John ’84 & Debra Ayres Scholarship;  Jacob & Betty Reiss, M.D. ’68 Nightingale Fellowship; Class of 1971 and 1977 Scholarships to mention a few. Upstate President Laraque-Arena announced during the 2016 Alumni Awards presentation, the naming of the Leanne and Frank E. Young, MD ’56, PhD, Endowed Chair in Biomedical Science at Upstate.

- In 2016, The Advocates for Upstate Medical University awarded $100,000 in grants to 50 Upstate programs and projects through its 2016-2017 grant-funding program that supports programs to enhance patient care and advocate for the health and wellness of the Central New York community. In addition, nearly $5,000 was raised through the Advocates’ annual golf tournament in September, benefitting Upstate’s MASH camp; $3$5,000 was raised through its annual signature fundraiser, Mystery and Merlot, this year benefiting the Community Campus Family Birth Center Postpartum Unit. Twenty-five scholarships were awarded to Upstate staff and volunteers totaling $35,000.

- Team Upstate continued to be successful in enhancing the quality of life for Central New Yorkers through its volunteer efforts. Upstate’s employees and students participated in numerous fund raising activities to help others in need. The Community Giving Campaign raised $516,880 to benefit community agencies, including The Upstate Foundation, thanks to the generosity of the 1,312 Upstate employees and retirees who pledged to the 2015 campaign.

Caption: President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, is cheered on by guests as she enters the auditorium at her inauguration ceremony in April.