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UAlbany Connections Lead Brenner to Success

April 27, 2009

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Sen. Dick Durbin, UAlbany School of Public Health student Dr. Sara Brenner, President Barack Obama

Sara Brenner's journey through the School of Public Health's preventive medicine residency program recently took her to Washington, D.C., where she met President Barack Obama, then a senator, as well as fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

When Dr. Sara Brenner first met Barack Obama, she was on a mission to make disease prevention a higher priority in federal health policy. Little did she know she was speaking with the future President of the United States. Brenner is currently in the preventive medicine residency program at UAlbany's School of Public Health, a venture that has taken her from Washington, D.C.,  to Philadelphia and back to Albany, learning about everything from legislative advocacy to using nanotechnology in medicine.

Brenner, a native of Adel, Iowa, is preparing for a leadership role in public health through the New York State Preventive Medicine Residency Program. Through this program, Brenner earned her master's degree in public health from UAlbany in December 2008, and is gaining valuable experience in her practicum year that ends in June.

"We nail down our competencies and demonstrate an increasing body of knowledge over the course of the residency, so graduates of this program are second to none," said Brenner. The residency program has had a 100 percent pass rate on the Preventive Medicine board exam for the past five years.

The residency and the school have given Brenner the chance to develop networks with preventive medicine physicians and public health professionals across the nation. She met President Obama, then a senator from Illinois, while completing a legislative health rotation in Washington, D.C., in 2007.

In Washington she worked on federal health policy at the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM). Another rotation took her to Philadelphia, where she participated in the Human Genome Variation Society Meeting while conducting colorectal cancer genetics research with colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

UAlbany School of Public Health Student Dr. Sara Brenner

Brenner is the first physician to create a nanobioscience rotation at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, where she is helping to design and initiate a nanotoxicology program. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Winner of the ACPM's Don Gemson Resident Award, Brenner is the first physician to create a nanobioscience rotation at UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), where she is helping to design and initiate a nanotoxicology program. She is also providing medical expertise for CNSE's nanomedicine initiatives, including projects in cancer research and regenerative medicine (tissue engineering and artificial organs), as well as exploring the creation of a first-of-its-kind clinical scientist training program in nanomedicine.

“With a sharp intellect, buoyant energy, elegant knowledge, and moral responsibility, combined with a thirst for innovation and curiosity for discovery, Sara brings a distinctive perspective to the exciting field of nanobioscience that is seamlessly suited to the CNSE pioneering interdisciplinary paradigm, particularly for advancing enabling health care treatments and therapies,” said Professor Alain E. Kaloyeros, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief executive officer of CNSE.

The opportunities to design her own rotations appealed to Brenner, who took advantage of the connections that exist among DOH, Wadsworth Center, and SPH.

"Sara understands the usefulness of organized group efforts to improve health, and she has the skills, passion, and character to develop and lead such efforts," said Mary Applegate, director of the residency program.

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