Current Fellows and Alumni of the NYSPMR, Precursor to the NYSFAPH

Current Fellows

Kristen Navarette, MD 
From my earliest memories, volunteerism and community involvement have always been a part of my life. As I progressed through my undergraduate studies at Siena College and then though medical school and residency at Albany Medical College, various volunteering experiences both here in the US and throughout the world, developed my passion for affecting health and its social determinants at a community level, particularly in the areas of early childhood development and health literacy. These experiences ultimately led to my career as a Pediatrician, as I see providing care for children as the ultimate opportunity in preventive medicine. While that one-on-one family interaction in the clinical setting brings me immense joy, I have always been driven back to that passion for affecting health at a community level and emphasis on prevention. When I learned of the opportunity to expand my knowledge and experiences in the field of public health through the Fellowship in Applied Public Health, I was excited at the opportunities this unique training would provide me. I greatly look forward to broadening my knowledge in this field, allowing me to continue expanding my work on child and adolescent preventive health.

Priscilla Paiva, MD
My interest in public health began during medical school while part of a student-run group that educated community leaders about health diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Later on, during my neurology fellowship at Albany Medical College, I attended Neurology on the Hill, a program that exposed me to health policy and taught me about advocacy and the legislative process. It was exciting to learn another way to impact health through policy. After fellowship, I worked as a general neurologist in a rural community where I enjoyed treating and educating patients and their families, but quickly became disheartened to learn of the economic side of medicine that one is not exposed to during medical school or residency. After the experience of educating people at the individual level, community level, and policy level, I decided that refocusing my goal to improve people’s health by pursuing a degree in public health was fitting. Because I had lived I enjoyed living in the Capital District prior, I decided to look at the Fellowship in Applied Public Health at SUNY Albany and learned of their unique relationship with the New York Department of Health. I have not found this type of relationship with other schools of public health.

Selected PMR graduates' comments about their interests in public health:

Penelope Cuevas (2016 - Complementary Pathway Graduate)
While attending medical school at Einstein, I became interested in medical informatics and I developed a computer application to educate medical students about healthcare costs. I went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in informatics at Boston University with a research focus on telehealth, and also earned a Master's degree in Biomedical Informatics from the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. While I'm passionate about informatics, I desired to have more of a public health focus in my career, so I returned to clinical medicine and completed an internship in internal medicine at Montefiore before joining the PMR program here in Albany. I'm very excited for the opportunities that the program will provide me to grow both my public health and informatics skill sets.

Priya Sharma (2010)
I completed my undergraduate career with a BS in Rural Sociology from Cornell University and then went on to obtain my MPH from Boston University with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. After obtaining my MPH, I completed medical school and a pediatric residency in Westchester, New York. Albany's Preventive Medicine Program encompassed everything I have ever loved about clinical medicine and public health into one program. Upon my completion of the Preventive Medicine Program, I remained in the Albany area to serve as the Medical Director for the Bureau of Immunization.

John L. Silvernail (2010)
I enjoyed my two years in the PMR program immensely. The core faculty are very dedicated to the program and provide an open and comfortable environment for learning. The MPH curriculum is broad based and gave me the public health knowledge I needed to compliment my clinical training and experience. The program provided me with new perspectives on problems I had encountered as a primary care physician and taught me to see beyond the individual patient.

My current position as director of the Emergency Epidemiology Program at the NYSDOH arose directly from my residency experience, and I feel I was well prepared for it. I am very happy to have been a resident in this program; the training I received here will serve me well where I go in my public health career.

Christine Compton (2009)
A graduate of Albany Medical College, my clinical training is in Internal Medicine and I have over ten years of experience in an outpatient primary care setting, both in the United States Army and in the private sector. After an extended period of time away from clinical medicine, caring for an elderly parent, I joined the Preventive Medicine Residency. The training I received, both during the academic year and the practicum experiences, gave me the fundamental tools necessary to understand the determinants of health on a population level and to effectively address significant public health issues that impact people's health and wellbeing. Since graduating, I have worked as a public health physician at the Albany County Department of Health. This provides an excellent opportunity to practice myriad essential public health services at the local level. I play a lead role in the county's annual influenza vaccination program, provide care to patients in the STD clinic, and provide guidance and education to local health care providers on important preventive practices. In addition, I work on chronic disease prevention and elimination of health disparities through programs promoting physical activity, good nutrition, and tobacco control.

Kimberly Kilby (2008)
While completing my family medicine residency at the University of Vermont, I experienced the true day-to-day grind of clinical medicine - a stark contrast to the bright idealism that brought me to medicine in the first place. One disheartening lesson I learned, in particular, is that the system of clinical medicine is often not amenable to social reform. Rather, it is sustained by continual reversions to the status quo, even in those instances when our better selves tell us that the most familiar approach is not always that which is most right, or just.

I knew that pursuing a preventive medicine residency would help me build the foundations necessary to effectively navigate larger institutional systems with the goal of creating equality for patients. Now that I am trained both in family medicine and preventive medicine, I am poised to serve as a liaison between public health and clinical medicine systems to help improve the well-being of my community.

After graduating from the residency, I assumed the position of Assistant Medical Director of the Immunization Program at the New York State Department of Health. The family medicine perspective works well with the Immunization Program’s mission to promote immunizations over the lifespan. I also have special interests in cancer-preventing vaccines and vaccines in pregnancy. I begin my public health career with great appreciation for the training I have received in the NYS PMR Program.

Heather Dacus (2007)
After graduating from medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, I served in the US Navy for five years, including time as the only medical officer on a remote Pacific island as well as time in upstate New York at the nuclear submarine training facility. Those experiences taught me the importance of prevention and of population-focused practice. After my Navy service was finished, I joined the NYS Preventive Medicine Residency, with a special focus on prevention of cancer and other chronic illnesses. I am continuing to pursue that passion as director of the Bureau of Cancer Prevention and Control in the New York State Department of Health. My long term goal is to incorporate and promote preventive health screenings as part of routine medical practice.

Rachel De Long (2003)
Originally from the Midwest, I grew up in both Wisconsin and Massachusetts. I earned my undergraduate degree in Rural Sociology at Cornell University, and went on to receive my medical degree from University of Wisconsin. During this time I worked as a counselor at Planned Parenthood clinics in Ithaca, Chicago, and Madison. In Wisconsin my husband and I also ran a small organic vegetable farm. I completed a PGY-1 year in Family Practice at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, PA before joining the PMR program. Although I enjoy many aspects of clinical medicine, I feel that my interests, which include maternal & child health, mental health, and nutrition, are better addressed from a preventive medicine/community health perspective. After finishing the residency, I took a position as a Medical Director in the NYSDOH's Bureau of Child & Adolescent Health.

Debra S. Blog (2002)
I am a pediatrician and had been out of residency for nine years before starting this program. I have always worked in public health settings in both Denver, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois. My primary interests when I joined the residency were in special needs children, developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, HIV, and the effects of the environment on children's health. The Preventive Medicine Residency gave me skills to enable me to approach the health care system in new and creative ways and to analyze public health problems in depth. After graduation, I took a position with the NYSDOH as medical director of the immunization program.

Robert Westphal (2000)
A brief experience at the Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschappelles, Haiti, coupled with a very extended experience caring for people with hematologic problems, led me to wonder about better ways of looking at the health of the larger community. The opportunity to work on worldwide blood transfusion problems while based in Geneva, Switzerland, for 3 years, during which time major changes in health care delivery were occurring here at home, strengthened this interest. The academic portions of the Preventive Medicine Residency here in Albany were both interesting and challenging; the practical portions - seminars, practicum rotations - offer opportunities to meet, discuss and work with eminent and ordinary folks working in public health today. Want to know what it's like to try and get a poor immigrant kid into prenatal clinic? You can find out here. Interested in working on health care policy, zoonoses, genetic screening, foodborne diseases? Ditto. The flexibility of the program and the professionalism of the staff enable just about anyone to get a good education and a good start on a career in public health, preventive medicine. If you think your role in life is to make a difference for having been here, you should give this a try.

Denise Benkel (2000)
After attending the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and completing a PGY-1 in Internal Medicine at the Manhattan VA, in 1996, I became a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer stationed at the Virginia Department of Health for two years. My work there included investigating outbreaks of communicable diseases, conducting influenza surveillance, and working at the 1997 Boy Scout Jamboree - ensuring, with a fellow EIS officer, that the 35,000 Scouts, adult leaders, and staff stayed as healthy as possible.

I joined the NYSPMR program after finishing my time in EIS. The PMR program honed skills acquired during medical school and EIS, taught me new skills, and enabled me to continue to pursue a career in public health. After completing my residency in 2000, I moved back to Manhattan to work for the New York City Health Department as a medical officer in their Child Health Initiative, an effort to improve rates of immunization, lead poisoning screening, and other preventive services for low income children. In the months following the attacks on the World Trade Center, I helped fit rescue workers with respirators at Ground Zero and assisted on the response to the anthrax attacks.

Complete list of alumni (1992-2016) of the NYS Preventive Medicine Residency - precursor to the NYS Fellowship in Applied Public Health

Susan Righi, College Health Physician, Ohio University
Elaine Schulte, Chair, Department of General Pediatrics, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH 
Mary Applegate, Residency Director, NYSPMR; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, UAlbany SPH
David Hornick, Geriatric Home Care, Schenectady NY
Leon DeMasi, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Pennsylvania DOH
Gene Laigon, Philadelphia Department of Social Services
Matt Mauer, Occupational Medicine Physician, NYSDOH
John Talarico, Director, Bioterrorism Preparedness, Los Angeles County Health Department
Jim Tacci, Residency Director, U of Rochester PMR; Occupational Medicine, Rochester NY
Bill Welder, Medical Scientific Director, Novo Nordisk 
Nancy Wade, Director, Division of Family Health, NYSDOH (retired)
Tom Morris, Public Health Physician, North Carolina DOH
Cort Lohff, Medical Director, Chicago Department of Public Health
Bob Westphal, Director, Center for Public Health Preparedness, SPH (retired)
Denise Benkel, City Medical Officer, New York City DOH
Marilyn Kacica, Med Dir, Division of Family Health, NYSDOH
Karin Wurapa, Med Consultant, Maternal & Child Health, Ohio Department of Health
Lou Smith, Director, Bureau of HIV/AIDS Epidemiology, NYSDOH
Barbara Oettgen, Community Pediatrics, Ann Arbor, MI
Bijoy Mathew, Community--Oriented Child Psychiatry, Rhode Island 
Chris Ashley, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Stratton VA Medical Center, Albany
Debra Blog, Director, Bureau of Immunizations, NYSDOH
Andrew Sebby, Medical Director, Occupational Medicine Center, Gothan, AL
Rachel De Long, Director, Bureau of Maternal & Child Health, NYSDOH
Seira Kurian, Public Health Physician, Duarte, CA
Renee Samelson, Medical Coordinator, Office of Professional Medical Conduct, NYSDOH
Joseph Nicholas, Clinical Instructor, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine
Carolyn Grosvenor, Staff Physician, Stratton VA Medical Center, Albany
Rebecca Finn, Director of HIV Services for the NYC jails, New York (retired)
Laura Kalorin Helton, Medical Director, Newborn Screening, NYSDOH, Albany
Heather Mann Dacus, Director, Bureau of Chronic Disease Control, NYSDOH, Albany
Sami Bég, Associate Medical Director, U.S. Preventive Medicine, Florida
Kimberley Noyes, Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, NYSDOH
James McDonald, Director of Health Services, Naval Health Clinic New England
Sara Brenner, Asst Vice President for NanoHealth Initiatives, UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, Albany, NY
David Pratt, Commissioner, Schenectady County Health Services, Schenectady, NY
Christine Compton, Medical Consultant, Albany County Department of Health, Albany, NY
Priya Sharma, Medical Director, Bureau of Immunizations, NYSDOH
John Silvernail, Director, Emergency Epidemiology Program, NYSDOH
Jane Uva, Emergency Medicine Physician, Manchester, VT
Kyong Park, Physician Advisor, Executive Health Resources, Inc.
Lynn Berger, Physician Advisor, Executive Health Resources, Inc.
Richard Dal Col, VP of Medical Affairs, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) Medical Center
Elizabeth Whalen, Medical Director, Capital District Physicians' Health Plan (CDPHP)
Alda Osinaga, Medical Director, Division of Program Development and Management, Office of Health Insurance Programs
Omotayo Majekodunmi, Deputy Director, Preventive Medicine Residency Program, UAlbany
Geniene Wilson, Faculty Member, Institute for Family Health
Michael Caldwell, Executive Health and Public Health Consultant
Michael Waxman, Faculty, Albany Medical College