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Rainer W.G. Gruessner, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Message From the Chairman

Welcome from the Office of the Chairman!

On this website, you will learn about the many exciting aspects of the Department of Surgery at SUNY Downstate and the cutting-edge developments in patient care, surgical education as well as basic science and clinical research.

Our department has a large faculty whose interests span all areas of clinical care, teaching and research in the field of surgery. Our faculty provides excellent and innovative patient care; outstanding teaching and mentoring expertise; and unique educational opportunities in clinical, translational and basic science research. Our principles are based on competency and compassion in patient care, as well as honesty and integrity in all professional manners.

SUNY Downstate’s surgical training program is one of the largest in the country, and provides training to eight (8) chief residents each year. It includes integrated rotations at five hospitals: University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB), Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn Veteran Administration Hospital , Richmond University Medical Center, and Coney Island Hospital.

SUNY Downstate is the largest medical school in the State of New York with a proud history in American medicine: this year (2017) marks the 158th anniversary of SUNY Downstate?s leadership role in American medical education.

As with Downstate?s College of Medicine, the Department of Surgery is proud of its heritage and its many accomplishments. All previous Chairmen built new, exciting clinical and research programs that continue to this day. The first Chairman of the SUNY Department, Dr. Clarence Dennis, made significant contributions to the development of the cardio-pulmonary bypass machine. Under his leadership, the first open heart surgery in New York was performed. The second Chairman, Dr. Samuel Kountz, was a pioneer in the field of organ transplantation. He established our transplant program which became one of the busiest in the country. The third Chairman, Dr. Bernard Jaffe, built a strong gastro-intestinal surgery program. The fourth Chairman, Dr. Richard Wait, established our division of Vascular Surgery. The fifth Chairman, Dr. Michael Zenilman, built a clinical and research program in pancreatic surgery. The sixth chairman, Dr. Antonio E. Alfonso, established an endocrine surgery program.

Over the last six decades, the Department of Surgery at SUNY Downstate has trained hundreds of academic surgeons who hold leadership positions in surgery all over the country. We continue to attract some of the brightest minds for our residency training program and our graduating residents are routinely accepted into some of the best fellowship programs in the country. Our faculty is dedicated to providing our residents and medical students with the most comprehensive and diverse education, inspiring them to become the next generation of surgeon leaders.

I hope to personally welcome you to the Department of Surgery at Downstate.


Rainer W. G. Gruessner, M.D. FACS
Clarence and Mary Dennis Professor of Surgery
Chairman, Department of Surgery
SUNY Downstate Medical Center