Campus News

WNY COVID-19 Collaborative establishes 10 public health fellowships


Published October 13, 2022

Environmental Portrait of Eugene Morse,Professor, Chair and Associate Dean for Clinical Education and Research, Department of Pharmacy Practice Photographer: Douglas Levere.
“Working together, they could reduce the health inequities and public health challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic intensified. ”
Gene D. Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor and co-director
Western New York COVID-19 Collaborative

The Western New York (WNY) COVID-19 Collaborative, which includes UB and more than a dozen regional organizations, has expanded its team with the addition of 10 individuals through the New York State Public Health Corps Fellowship Program.

Working through the Erie County Department of Health, these fellows will complete a full-time training program under the direction of academic and civic leaders, all funded by New York State.

The fellows will work to advance the Regional Equitable Health Infrastructure Network of Western New York (Rethink WNY), an initiative formed through the collaborative that aims to create new models to address inadequate health care access. Fellows will also participate in mentorships and biweekly conferences facilitated by regional experts.

The WNY COVID-19 Collaborative is an interdisciplinary group of community organizations, health care providers, academic centers and businesses that partner on vaccine promotion, infection-prevention strategies, and COVID-19 testing and treatment in Erie and Niagara counties. Formed in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the collaborative serves as a bridge to community organizations and underserved communities within Western New York.

“This workforce development program will prepare a new cohort of professionals for public health research, program development and related areas,” says Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein.

“Working together, they could reduce the health inequities and public health challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic intensified,” adds Gene D. Morse, WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative co-director, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Fellows and their areas of focus:  

  • Allison Panaro: regional needs assessment for community health workers.
  • Brian Benson: vaccine hesitancy.
  • Dana Stoffman: project implementation.
  • El Tyner: project administration and communication.
  • Jeanette Miles: school-based information resource units.
  • Jenna Matson: regional network of federally qualified health centers.
  • Kevin Wang: comparative air quality.
  • Laurie Linton: project leadership.
  • Syed Rahman: project data management.
  • Troi Greene: public health infrastructure curriculum.

Members of the WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative include Buffalo Medical Group, Catholic Health, Circuit Clinical, Frontier Science, Great Lakes Health System, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, UB, UBMD, Urban Family Practice, WNY Medical and You First Services. Partnering organizations include the African American Health Equity Task Force, Buffalo Center for Health Equity, COVID-19 Community Response Project and WNY STEM.

James L. Mohler, emeritus chair of urology and chief of inter-institutional academics at Roswell Park, is also a co-director of the collaborative.

UB faculty mentors include Sarahmona Przybyla, assistant dean and director of undergraduate public health programs, and Lina Mu, associate professor and director of the Office of Global Health Initiatives, both in the School of Public Health and Health Professions; David Milling, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs, and Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, associate professor and director of community translational research, both in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Gina Prescott, clinical associate professor and global health outreach coordinator in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Elizabeth Bowen, associate professor in the School of Social Work; and Kafuli Agbemenu, assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

Additional faculty and community leaders providing mentorship include Renee Cadzow, assistant professor of health administration and public health, D’Youville University; Rolanda Ward, associate professor of social work, Niagara University; Tiffany Lewis, president and chief executive officer, Confident Girl Mentoring Program; and Suzanne Siminski, chief executive officer, and Matt Cole, software project manager, both at Frontier Science & Technology Research Foundation.