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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Department of Neurology

Medical Students

Dr. Lisa Merlin with MD/PhD student Michaelangelo Fuortes

Drs. Brian Anziska and Lisa Merlin oversee all medical neuroscience curricular content across all four years of training. With the help of the enthusiastic and highly-qualified neuroscience faculty, the students are taught the normal functioning of the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the pathophysiology of neurologic and psychiatric diseases, during the Foundations years. Interactive lectures, case-based conferences, live patient demonstrations, laboratory sessions, and patient-based learning all complement each other to provide the ideal educational experience. Students practice the performance of the neurologic examination under the supervision of our board-certified neurologists to ensure that they have mastered the necessary skills before proceeding to their clerkships in the clinical years. Drs. Merlin and Anziska run the neurology clerkship as well, which is a mandatory component of the clerkship year. During this rotation, students function as integral members of the ward and consult services at their respective hospitals, and they evaluate neurologic patients in the emergency room and outpatient departments as well. Advanced clinical elective opportunities include the neurology subinternship, translational neuroscience elective, and subspecialty rotations in epilepsy, pediatric neurology, and neuroepidemiology. There are numerous opportunities for students to participate with our faculty on various basic and clinical research projects, and many of our faculty have graduate school appointments and serve and thesis advisors for our MD-PhD program candidates.

Downstate is unique in offering an honors program for medical students, the Clinical Neurosciences Pathway, which has been a popular supplement to the mandatory curriculum. The Pathway, directed and founded by Dr Merlin, is the educational branch of the Furchgott Center for Neural and Behavioral Science (Dr. Roger Cracco, Executive Director). Students who complete all required components of the program are announced as graduates of the Pathway on Awards Day.

Drs. Merlin and Anziska are actively involved in education at the national level, and they have both been recognized by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) for their achievements as neurology educators. Dr. Merlin was the recipient of the 2013 Consortium of Neurology Clerkship Directors Innovation Award, and Dr Anziska was awarded the 2014 Consortium of Neurology Clerkship Directors Teaching Award. They have also been granted funding from the AAN to examine different outcomes in student performance and satisfaction when different proportions of inpatient, outpatient, and pediatric training are provided during the four-week clerkship.


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Dr. Anziska (right) receiving his award from Dr. Imran Ali of the AAN