SUNY Downstate Launches New Geriatric Public Health Program

By Office of Communications & Marketing | May 5, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn S. Walker | | 917-439-9666

The New Program Will Provide Training on Public Health-Related Issues Affecting the Rapidly Growing Aging Population

For More Information on the Program Visit Here

BROOKLYN, NY – The SUNY Downstate School of Public Health (SPH) is pleased to announce the creation of a new academic program: Advanced Certificate Program in Public Health Geriatrics. This certificate program will provide training on a broad spectrum of public health-related issues affecting the rapidly growing aging population that is expected to double by 2050. This demographic shift will increase demands on public health systems as the prevalence of chronic diseases and geriatric syndromes rises.

Students who complete the program will obtain training on the unique health and social issues impacting aging populations and will be trained to understand and implement public health research approaches that are best-suited for studying older adults. Using evidence-based approaches, students will learn to develop and evaluate social and behavioral health promotion interventions aimed at older adults. Students will also receive training on the federal, state and local government policies that are relevant to aging and health.

Students who complete the courses in this program will be equipped to:

  1. Apply learned theories of aging (including biological, psychological, and sociological) to the development of projects and programs to improve well-being among older adults.
  2. Develop health literacy around age-associated health issues including medical comorbidity, polypharmacy, functional decline, insurance coverage, caregiving, policy issues, and end of life planning
  3. Develop capability to find and summarize relevant research on important issues affecting older adults at the local, national, and global levels.
  4. Communicate the unique health risks and social issues facing the aging population to patients, caregivers, health professionals, and the public.  

This certificate program has been developed as part of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s Brooklyn Initiative to Develop Geriatrics Education (BRIDGE) Program, a Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“I am very pleased SUNY Downstate School of Public Health has pioneered this important program which will be instrumental in understanding and shaping equitable, healthy aging in this growing segment of our population,” said Dr. Kitaw Demissie, Dean and Professor of the School of Public Health.

The BRIDGE program is working throughout Brooklyn to transform our educational programming, healthcare environments, and communities to be Age- and Dementia-Friendly. This critical program will create the public health leaders our borough needs to improve the health of our diverse elderly patient communities for years to come,” said Dr. Michael Reinhardt, co-Director of the BRIDGE Program.

Component courses such as Principles of Epidemiology, Epidemiology of Aging, Public Health Leadership in Interprofessional Practice, Program Design and Evaluation, and Legal Issues in Aging and Health are a combination of required courses for the Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology concentration. The certificate is offered completely online.

“We are excited to offer this innovative program to prepare future public health leaders to address the increasing and unique health concerns of our aging adult populations,” said Elizabeth P. Helzner, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Applications for the Advanced Certificate will be accepted via the Centralized Application Service for Public Health (SOPHAS Express) for enrollment in the Fall 2021 semester. Dr. Helzner will be the Program Director and Campus Contact.


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.