Dr. Mohamed Boutjdir  

Lakia Maxwell, MSCH

Carla Boutin-Foster, MD, MSc is Associate Dean of the Office of Diversity Education and Research.  In this capacity, Dr. Boutin-Foster oversees pipeline programs designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in biomedicine and biomedical research. She was PI and director of an NIMHD P60 Center of Excellence in Disparities Research and Community Engagement at Weill Cornell. She was an investigator on a program project grant funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to identify attributes in the doctor-patient relationship that are most associated with health behavior modification in patients with coronary artery disease. She was the recipient of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the role of social support in outcomes of patients with coronary artery disease. She was the recipient of a KO1 from the NHLBI to evaluate the impact of depressive symptoms, social support, and stress on health behavior modification in Latino patients with coronary artery disease. She is also co-investigator on an NHLBI program project to test the impact of a culturally-tailored educational program on medication adherence in African-Americans with hypertension. Dr. Boutin- Foster has expertise in community-based participatory research, qualitative research, randomized trial design, survey development, and culturally-tailoring interventions. She has published several peer-reviewed articles on her work. She has mentored junior faculty locally and internationally as part of the T32 Clinical Epidemiology Program at Weill Cornell. Her fellows have come from Nigeria, Tanzania, and HaitiType your paragraph here.

Dr. Marilyn Fraser is the Chief Executive Officer at the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the co-Director of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center.  In her previous capacities as the Deputy Director and the Associate Director for Research & Training, she was primarily responsible for overseeing the Institute’s community outreach and research programs.  Dr. Marilyn Fraser is a graduate of the Spartan Health Sciences University School of Medicine in St. Lucia, West Indies, where she maintained an enviable scholastic record. During her medical education, she was afforded the opportunity to be exposed to various types of health care delivery systems, within the United States and abroad.  Her medical training has included work in the West Indies, Mexico and various US cities such as Kansas City, Washington, DC and New York City.  Dr. Fraser is a former scholar of the NHLBI funded Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity (SIPID, now known as PRIDE) in cardiovascular disease; and, she has participated as a faculty member to train new scholars on the importance of community engagement in addressing health disparities. 


As Program Coordinator for the Institute’s award-winning Black Pearls and Different Fades of Health programs, Dr. Fraser was instrumental in developing the programs into behavioral health intervention models. She was a co-leader of an investigative team of researchers supported by several NIH and CDC grants that has developed training curricula for hair stylists and barbers to educate their clients about breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and HIV/AIDS risk reduction. She has served as the principal investigator (PI) for a New York University – Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) funded pilot study to train hair stylists to deliver CVD messages to their clients.  Dr. Fraser has served as the Co-PI of the team of investigators responsible for conducting the Institute’s ACCESS project to increase access to health and social services for formerly incarcerated individuals in Brooklyn, New York.


Dr. Fraser has leveraged her talents and assets in support of the collaborative work with the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a partnership between the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, for which she serves as the Co-Director and a Principal Investigator.  Dr. Fraser is also the Director of the Community Engagement Core of the NIH funded Center.  In this capacity she uses her strengths in health disparities research training on behalf of minority youth and in CBPR methods in order to engage community organizations in health disparities research and related policy work.  She also serves as the co-investigator of the Center’s health disparities research projects to address HIV/AIDS and Obstructive Sleep Apnea in African American and Afro-Caribbean individuals.


Dr. Fraser has received various awards including the Health Award from the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators and being named as one of the extraordinary women of Downstate.  In 2013, Dr. Fraser was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Research Specialist award to develop and implement a climate change and public health internship program for secondary school students in Trinidad and Tobago.   This program, conducted in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine’s campus), provided didactic training for students on climate change and health disparities and hands-on training at local non-governmental organizations, where students participated in research projects.  In recognition for her innovative community based strategies to address health disparities, Dr. Fraser received the Innovator Award from the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center at their 2014 Gala.  In 2015, Dr. Marilyn Fraser was selected to serve on the Collaboration/Engagement Domain Taskforce (DTF), a component of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium, one of National Institute of Health’s largest and most important initiatives. She has presented her work at scientific meetings, nationally and internationally, and is co-author on several publications and a book chapter. 

Dr. Moro Salifu is Chair of the Department of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Director of the Kidney Transplant Program at SUNY Downstate. Dr. Salifu came to SUNY Downstate after medical school in Turkey to pursue residency training in internal medicine. After internship, Dr. Salifu rapidly excelled as resident in medicine, subsequently meriting him fellowships in kidney diseases, kidney transplantation and interventional nephrology, for which he graduated as a stellar scholar in all three subspecialties. While in residency and Fellowship training, Dr. Salifu won annual awards in the basic science category in the Department of Medicine for six consecutive years as well as four consecutive awards from the American College of Physicians. After fellowship training, Dr. Salifu was retained by SUNY Downstate as Assistant Professor in 2001. He rapidly rose through the ranks to Associate Professor and Professor within 7 years, a milestone that is credited to his outstanding original research contributions, clinical acumen and medical education. In about the same time, Dr. Salifu, earned two masters degrees in public health and healthcare business administration respectively. He has directed the nephrology fellowship training program since 2001 and in 2008 assumed the roles of Chief of Nephrology and Director of the Transplant Program, roles that were crucial to the restructuring of the kidney dialysis and transplant programs at Downstate. He is a recipient of many grants and has published extensively. He is a member and journal reviewer for many nephrology and transplant societies and has served in many local and national professional committees. He is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Salifu's research interest are CKD disease progression, vascular biology and kidney transplant outcomes. 

Moro O. Salifu, MD, MBA, MPH, FACP

The Administrative Core provides overall administrative and scientific oversight and coordination of research projects. Specifically, it provides the scientific leadership, organizational structure, and support staff necessary for center investigators to realize their scientific potential through multidisciplinary collaborations. It facilitates communication and fosters collaborations among core members and with community members in its catchment area. It ensures sound fiscal management and accountability of all activities of the Center. It also ensures that its goals are achieved, and that the proposed activities of each CORE function optimally and in a synergistic, interacting manner with each other 

Brooklyn Health Disparities Center – Structural Integration, Function & Impact of the Cores

Mohamed Boutjdir, PhD is a Professor at the Department of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and a Professor and Associate Chair of Medicine for R&D at the Departments of Medicine, Cell Biology and Pharmacology & Physiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York. He is also, the Director of the Cardiovascular Research Program at the VA New York Harbor healthcare system, New York. Dr. Boutjdir’s interest is in cardiovascular research both in health and diseased states. Specifically, Dr. Boutjdir’s research includes the mechanisms of autoimmune associated congenital heart block, atrial fibrillation and long QT syndrome.  Dr. Boutjdir serves in several review boards for cardiovascular study sections for many granting institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association both local and National Centers, the Veterans Administration, March of Dimes and the French “Agence Nationale de la Recherche”. Dr. Boutjdir also serves as a reviewer for many National and European high impact journals and is an active member of several journal editorial boards. He has been invited throughout the world to lecture and present seminars in the area of cardiovascular research. To date, he has published over 85 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. Dr. Boutjdir, in addition to being an academic, has extensive leadership, management and administrative experiences in a range of organizational contexts. In most of these, he had the responsibility for strategic as well as operational planning, working with Senior Executive Management team such as the Deans of Medical Schools (NYU and SUNY Downstate @ New York), Hospital CEOs and Clinical Service Chiefs. He has lead and managed a group of more than 300 investigators/researchers, clinical, translational and basic scientist and managed a research budget of more than $15 Million. Dr. Boutjdir worked on providing support and promoted research and scholarly activity through building new directions in research, establishing centers of excellence, ensuring responsible research practices, and communicating the value of research within and beyond the institution. He provided expertise and support to faculty and staff in the commercialization of the intellectual property and help bring these new ideas to the marketplace.Type your paragraph here.

Dr. Clinton Brown 

Dr. Maragaret Kaplan was appointed as the new Co-Director of BHDC Research, Training, andEducation core  for the Center in the Fall of 2014. Margaret Kaplan is a licensed Occupational Therapist and has combined her work with children and families with her work as a full time faculty member at SUNY Downstate. Kaplan's teaching and grant activities have focused on Early Intervention with children and families, use of assistive technology for people with disabilities, and developing cultural competence. She has consistently worked with underserved children and families economically disadvantaged, and with underserved children and adults with severe developmental disabilities.
 The Training Core aims towards building and enhancing minority health services and outcomes research capacity at the Center, while offering the infrastructure necessary to recruit and train qualified minority college students, medical students, medical residents and fellows. The CORE provides training in the areas of health disparities research (i.e., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, dyslipedimia, mental health, cancer, sleep apnea, and others). Upon completion of their training, trainees are equipped with considerable scientific knowledge and skills, display an ethical approach to clinical problems and have the potential to become productive members of the scientific community and advocates for wellness.

Community & Engagement Core

Research Core

Humberto Brown, MA is Director of Health Disparities Initiatives at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.  In this capacity he is assigned as a loaned executive to the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an independent 501©3 organization that partners SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office on community based participatory research. Prior to his tenure at Downstate, Mr. Brown held positions in the psychiatric division of Harlem Hospital, where he helped create a cultural sensitivity and education program for psychiatric residents and other mental health workers.  Since 1994, Mr. Brown has been part of a team that trains mental health workers and psycho-therapists to be aware of their own racial, ethnic and class identities and, thus, aware of the attitudes and assumptions informing their perceptions of Latin American and Caribbean peoples. At the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, he has consulted on the training of high school students to understand the role of culture in healing, and to acquire the human relations tools necessary for delivering health care to a multicultural clientele.  Mr. Brown is the director of Arthur Ashe Institute’s seminar series on racial, ethnic and gender disparities in health.  He was integrally involved in the Institute’s National Cancer Institute funded research study, Prostate Cancer Control with Community Barbers.  As part of the research team, he conducts focus and advocacy training groups related to prostate health with African American and African Caribbean barbers and their customers.  Representing Arthur Ashe Institute and SUNY Downstate Center, Mr. Brown also serves as Chairman of the Committee on Underrepresented Minorities in Medicine of the newly formed Community Coalition to Increase Diversity in the Health Care Professions, a 40-member coalition committed to offering a community grounded voice to this issue in New York City.  He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center.

Dr. Pamela D. Straker is the Director of Operations for the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center and Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine/College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She is a licensed psychologist who has also had extensive experience in management of, and consultation to, not for profit organizations and programs serving populations in which the greatest health disparities have existed. Dr. Straker has also had significant experience with community based organizations, private funders, policy makers, and governmental entities, has taught on the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has implemented programs across Brooklyn and in Manhattan. Dr. Straker served as a Trainer and Program Coach at Yale University for Emotional Literacy within the Psychology Department, has provided consulting services to the primary and higher education systems, and has served as a psychologist peer reviewer for the Optum Health/United Health Group. She provides evaluation, coaching and psychotherapeutic services for a range of populations.  During her career she has
provided individual, family and group therapy, offered technical assistance, and served in foster care, Head Start, and other human service agencies. She has appeared as a guest on numerous television and radio programs. Dr. Straker holds a doctoral degree in Sch ool- Community Psychology from Hofstra University, where she also received a master’s degree and has achieved alumna status at Columbia University’s Executive Level Institute for Not-for-Profit Management. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Rochester. In her role with BHDC, she has strengthened the integration of BHDC’s Cores, has worked on the recruitment of other SUNY Downstate researchers, and has assured the Center’s dissemination of information. Additionally, she has participated in the expansion of  the Center’s collaboration with researchers and entities outside of the Center.

Betty L. Jung, RN, BSN, is a Teaching and Research Care Nurse, Patient and Community Health Educator at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness in Brooklyn, New York.  Ms. Jung has served an underserved urban community, 84% of whom are immigrants in Brooklyn since 1981 at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, University Hospital of Brooklyn.  Ms. Jung is a graduate of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, College of Nursing where she received her BSN degree in 1981.  Her career immediately began after graduation as a medical-surgical nurse.  For almost 9 years she gained clinical and patient and family education experience on the medical-surgical and cardiothoracic step down units.

Ms. Jung’s has committed much of her time and energy in strengthening and expanding the Center’s community health education programs.  Today through her efforts and commitment, many schools and colleges recognize the Center’s reputation as having a comprehensive and sustainable culturally sensitive community health programs that is uniquely operated by 2 nurses for them to send their students majoring in the health care field to gain community health experience at the graduate level as an MPH and DrPH candidate intern, and to be able to offer undergraduate students field experience in community health prior to graduation to complete a well rounded education.  


Ms. Jung is co-author of an IRB approved nursing research study on “Effectiveness of Cardiac Risk Assessment Screening Among Returnees at One Year” and is the recipient of many awards from the New York State Assembly, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and faith based organization for outstanding community health service.  In 2009, she received the State University of New York Chancellor Award for Excellence in recognition of outstanding and sustained service and significant contribution to institutional quality at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. 

TheCommunity & Engagement  Outreach Core serves as a bridge between center investigators and the community at large. It translates research findings emanating from the center into public health knowledge and conveys important issues and concerns of the community to researchers within the center.  This is achieved through outreach and information dissemination projects in the community using methods that engage service providers in the community. This CORE ensures that the scientific knowledge that is generated through research being carried-out at the Center is translated into information that can be readily used by neighborhood residents. (more).

Sandra Chapman , MPA

Pamela D. Straker, PhD

Dr. Michael Joseph 

Administrative Core

Training, & Education Core

Chief Program Officer Sandra Chapman joined the leadership of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center in 2012 as the representative for the Brooklyn Borough President's Office. She has nearly three decades of experience as a manager, problem solver and advocate in the public sector with special emphasis on streamlining services between a busy city agency and its residents. Prior to her appointment as deputy borough president, Chapman served as director of the borough president's Community Service Center (CSC). Long dedicated to serving others, Chapman built a team committed to helping residents struggling to access city services and she continues to supervise the CSC. 

Mark Stewart, MD, PhD is Interim Provost/SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Dean, School of Graduate Studies; Vice Dean for Research Dr. Stewart received his MD and PhD degrees in 1991 from Downstate.  He is the P His PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship were in neuroscience, and his current research is focused on the systemic consequences of epileptic seizure activity including sudden death. His lab has developed a unique animal model that has permitted arguably the most complete understanding of autonomic, cardiovascular, and respiratory pathophysiology during seizures and suggested the mechanism for sudden death in epilepsy. This work has led to the development of several technologies to prevent death or resuscitate patients, including a vagus nerve stimulation-based cardioverter/defibrillator that received funding from SUNY’s Technology Accelerator Fund.  Dr. Stewart joined the Physiology faculty in 1994 and was promoted through the ranks in Physiology and Physiology & Pharmacology to a tenured professor in 2008. He was appointed Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Vice Dean for Research in 2009. He has played major roles in establishing an MD/PhD Program in Nanomedicine with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, a PhD Track in Developmental Neuroscience in partnership with the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities in Staten Island, and numerous other research training and pipeline programs with area universities, including the first major research training grant for CUNY Medgar Evers College.

Dr. Daniel Cukor served as Research Scientistfor the Center from 2013 to 2017 . Dr. Cukor was an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at SUNY Downstate Medical Center during that time period. He was also a SUNY Downstate's Networks of Excellence Presidential Scholar.

Dr. Cukor received his Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology from Ferkauf Graduate School/Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University (2002). He did a post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive behavioral therapy treatment and research at Downstate Medical Center. He has authored many articles and reviews in the field of behavioral medicine and sought after speaker in the field of psychonephrology.

Dr Clinton D Brown is the former Director of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, and the Contact PI on that Center’s first federally funded P20 grant. Dr Brown currently is the Presiding Officer for the Executive Committee (College of Medicine), Deputy Chief, Renal Division, Department of Medicine, and Professor of Medicine. He received his B.S. degree from Queens College and degree in medicine, from Tufts University School of Medicine. His training is in nephrology and clinical lipidology. He is a fellow in: The American Society of Nephrology, The American Heart Association, and The National Lipid Association. He has authored over 100 articles, book chapters and abstracts. His research interest is atherosclerosis.

For more than thirty years Dr Brown has trained and mentored students from SUNY Downstate Medical School, nearby high schools, and colleges, as well as, students from and graduates of medical schools from abroad. For his distinguished work and dedication, Dr Brown has received awards from SUNY Downstate, the National Institute of Health, and the Brooklyn community.

Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster  

Dr. Margaret Kaplan  

Dr. Daniel Cukor  

Lakia Maxwell received a Masters in Community Health at Hofstra University in 2016. Ms . Maxwell joined The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center in 2014 and serves as Research Education Coordinator. In that capacity, Ms. Maxwell provides support for the Center’s Executive Team in submission of NIH and other grant proposals. She has developed and maintained web based and social media communications, brochures, pamphlets among many other products. Ms. Maxwell is engaged in program planning and designing, as well as, the implementation of research activities. She is also the Internship coordinator and mentor for the BHDC'S summer mentor program which consists of both high school and college students. Through her learning experiences, as Board Member she is able to offer multiple skills including but not limited to Program Evaluation, Survey Design, Graphic Design, Logic Model Development, SMART Goal and Objective Development, as well as Budget and Timeline Development. She has also assisted with both Community Based Participatory Research and Community Engaged Research in which she has a passion for. Additionally, Ms. Maxwell is a professor at SUNY Empire State College where she teaches “Introduction to Community and Public Health.”

Dr. Mark Stewart

Betty Jung, RN

Dr. Michael Joseph was appointed as the new Director of the BHDC Training Core in the summer of 2013. Dr. Joseph, recipient of the 2013 Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Teaching, has participated in training efforts of BHDC, most recently providing a workshop teaching community based organizations how to analyze research data. He also provides supervision to staff engaged in the community based research conducted by BHDC.

As vice chair and assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health; he played a key role in the transition of the Graduate Program in Public Health to full School status and is known for creating a learning environment where excellence is expected.
He consistently receives high praise in student evaluations of his teaching and takes great personal interest in his students' success: each semester devoting time to tutoring students who find epidemiology and biostatistics challenging. Dr. Joseph has a knack for explaining difficult concepts in a simplified, yet exhaustive fashion; for this reason, his course at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Biostatistics for Non-Statisticians, is widely popular.

He is also active in local pipeline programs, such as the PRISM Program at Medgar Evers Preparatory High School, which seek to inspire underrepresented young people to pursue health careers. Dr. Joseph also has vast international teaching experience in epidemiology and biostatistics, and has provided training in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Estonia, and Ukraine.

Tracey E. Wilson, PhD is Professor of the Department of Community Health Sciences and holds a doctoral degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. She has extensive experience in the design, management, and evaluation of applied interventions to promote public health and reduce health disparities, is an actively funded research investigator, and has been an author on over 100 peer-reviewed articles. The primary aims of Dr. Wilson’s research are to increase our understanding of the social, structural, and psychological causes of racial/ethnic and gender-based health disparities, and to contribute to the development, testing, and dissemination of interventions that improve health outcomes and quality of life among men and women.

By focusing both on reducing risk factors and supporting social and psychological strengths and resources such as resilience and positive affect, she hopes to help support communities in achieving greater health, particularly as it relates to reducing risks for infectious diseases, promoting timely detection and treatment for disease, and staying actively engaged in care and adherent to medication regimens. Type your paragraph here.

Humberto Brown, MA

Brooklyn Health Disparities Center

Marilyn Fraser, MD

Dr. Tracey Wilson

TheResearch Core is tasked with the role of developing and implementing the Center's research agenda. This agenda is guided by principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and directly informed by community input as channeled through the Community Engagement Core. The Research Core, in turn, provides opportunities for training of undergraduates and graduate and postdoctoral students, and for faculty development through the Training Core.

During the first three years of its existence, the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center has focused its efforts on identifying the risk markers for cardiovascular diseases. This has led to the creation of the CORG database, a registry of over 750 patients; developed by four SUNY Downstate affiliated hospitals. More recently, the Center has initiated a series of projects aimed at preventing the risks of cardiovascular diseases in Brooklyn, notably in connection to sleep apnea. Additionally, community initiatives conducted by the Community Engagement Core, serve as the basis for the development of research publications aimed at showcasing the theoretical framework that underlies the collaborative approach adopted by the Center.

With the support of its community partners, and academic and institutional collaborators, the Health Disparities Center plans to expand its research capabilities, in order to fully meet the health needs of the population of Brooklyn.

For a list of selected research publications from Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, go to theResearch Publications page »