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Mayor and County Exceutive honored

Upstate honors 27 with distinguished service awards

Twenty-seven individuals and a local company have been recognized by Upstate Medical University for distinguished service at the university’s annual Fall Faculty Convocation, held Sept. 16 in the Weiskotten Hall courtyard.

The event was held in the Medical Alumni Auditorium before an audience of friends and family members of the award winners. The campus community also was able to view the event via a live stream, or in person.

Awards recognized individuals in numerous categories, from Professional Service and Voluntary Faculty to Research and Diversity.

Among the key community honorees are Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, who are both receiving the President’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the McMahon acted swiftly, joining Walsh in canceling most county and city gatherings as of March 12, 2020, proclaiming a state of emergency on March 14, 2020, and, two days later, requiring symptomatic county residents to self-quarantine pending a negative COVID-19 test result. Decisions like these helped the public understand the gravity of the building threat to public health.  In the subsequent months, as surges of the virus across Central New York ebbed and flowed, McMahon went on to issue no less than six additional executive orders to protect the public during the pandemic: requiring masks be worn indoors at senior living facilities, daycare facilities and the New York State Fair; limiting third-party food delivery service fees; and requiring all staff of Onondaga County schools either be fully vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.

Coordinating efforts by Syracuse with Onondaga County and local governments Walsh took decisive action early in the pandemic, closing non-essential areas of city buildings to public access, moving many city employees to remote work, announcing a COVID-19 emergency loan program for small local businesses, and taking steps to ensure essen­tial services for public safety and infrastructure could continue. Joining his fellow mayors and local government leaders across the nation, Walsh successfully convinced congressional lawmakers to ensure that small-to-mid-sized cities and counties would be eligible for federal emergency financial relief during the pandemic.

Brendan Dunuwila, CFP is the recipient of The President’s Award for Philanthropic Service, Individual,

This is a remarkable record of philanthropy that is the result of his Dunuwila’s younger brother’s journey with cancer and the time he spent as an inpatient at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. During Dunuwila’s visits with his brother, he realized that his family was extremely fortunate in that all they had to focus on was his brother’s health. They did not share some of the worries that many other families were experiencing while at the bedside of a sick child: how to pay the rent or mortgage, child care costs for siblings at home, transportation to and from another city, or even simply parking on a daily basis. This greatly concerned Dunuwila.

Following his brother’s ordeal from which he fully recov­ered, Dunuwila approached the Foundation. After a thorough vetting process, he opened The Hornet Fund, a patient assistance fund for families at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. The name is a nod to the mascot of his high school alma mater, Fayetteville-Manlius. Every year, Dunuwila meets with his fund advisors to hear how the fund has helped; encourage them to spend more; and replenish the fund.  The Hornet Fund has provided funding so that a three-year-old boy could be medically transported from the Children’s Hospital to Pittsburgh for a lifesaving multi- visceral transplant. It assisted a young Amish boy who had been kicked in the head by a horse with home care following discharge because his family did not have health insurance.

Dialysis Clinic Inc. (DCI) was recognized with the President’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropic Service, Corporate. DCI Throughout its 21-year relationship with the Upstate Foundation, Dialysis Clinic Inc. (DCI) has remained stead­fast in its commitment to “care of the patient” through philanthropic support that totals nearly $2 million. DCI is a nonprofit leader in dialysis, serving end-stage renal disease patients. Based in Nashville, TN, it is a national organization that typically partners with academic medical universities to run its clinics. In Syracuse, the company part­ners with Upstate’s Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology at University Dialysis Center on East Genesee St. and satellite offices in Auburn and Oswego. 

Below is a complete list of award winners

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
Xin Jie Chen, PhD,
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Director, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Lorraine L. Manzella
Upstate University Medical Associates of Syracuse

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Frank Middleton, PhD
Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Biochemistry and Microbiology and Pediatrics
Stephen Thomas, MD
Institute for Global Health and Translational Science Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service
Myron Martin
Environmental Services

SUNY Distinguished Service Professor
David Duggan, MD, MACP
Department of Internal Medicine, Hematology/Oncology

President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership and Research
Audrey Bernstein, PhD Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Cell and Developmental Biology

President’s Award for Excellence in Basic Research by a Young Investigator
Bruce Knutson, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Thomas Sanford, MD
Department of Urology
Sijun Zhu, MD, PhD
Department of Neuroscience and Physiology

President’s Award for Advancement of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
Annette Adams-Brown
Clinical Skills Center

President’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Steven McClintic, MHA, FACHE
Hospital Administration

President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Scott Schurman, MD
Department of Pediatrics Division of Pediatric Nephrology
Telisa Stewart, DrPH
Departments of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Geriatrics and Urology

President’s Award for Excellence in Library Science
Amy Slutzky, PhD, MLIS, AHIP
Health Sciences Library Department of Psychiatry

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Jennette Ball, DC
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
Paula Farrell, MD
Neonatology/Pediatrics, Binghamton Campus
Jennifer Nead, MD, FAAP
Department of Pediatrics, Syracuse Campus

President’s Award for Outstanding Voluntary Faculty
Craig J. Byrum, MD
Pediatric Cardiology, Syracuse Campus
Michael Federico, DO
Family Medicine, Binghamton Campus
Jeanna Marraffa, PharmD, MPH, DABAT
Department of Emergency Medicine and Upstate New York Poison Center
Philip Messina, RT(T), LRT(T)
College of Health Professions


Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences
Alaji Bah, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

President’s Award for Distinguished Service
J. Ryan McMahon, II
County Executive, Onondaga County
Ben Walsh, MPA
Mayor, City of Syracuse

President’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropic Service, Corporate
Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI)

President’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropic Service, Individual
Brendan Dunuwila, CFP

Academy of Upstate Educators
Amy DeBlois, PT, DPT, NCS
College of Health Professions