AMSNY CEO Testifies at NYC Council Committee on Higher Ed Hearing About CUNY Diversity in Medicine Pipeline Programs

Testimony of:

Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) Oversight Hearing – Pursuing a Career in Health Care at the City University of New York  Committee on Higher Education New York City Council January 17, 2019 10:00 am 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Committee Room, New York, NY Good morning, Chairwoman Barron and other distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on pursuing health careers at the City University of New York. My name is Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), the consortium of the sixteen public and private medical schools in New York State, eight of which are located within New York City’s five boroughs. AMSNY works in partnership with its members to promote high-quality and cost-efficient health care by ensuring that New York State’s medical schools provide outstanding medical education, patient care and biomedical research. AMSNY strongly believes in the importance of a multifaceted strategy to meet the growing demand for primary care and specialty physicians, while simultaneously tackling the current need to decrease access issues in underserved areas. As such, through our Diversity in Medicine Program AMSNY has overseen diversity programs designed to increase the number of underrepresented students going into medicine and biomedical sciences since 1985. CUNY School of Medicine (CUNY), formerly Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, is one of our member institutions and we have been supporting programs at both CUNY and the City College of New York (CCNY) for close to 20 years.

AMSNY’s Diversity in Medicine Program

According to the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies, while African American/Blacks and Latino/Hispanics make up 31% of the New York State population, they accounted for approximately 12% of the State’s physician workforce between 2011-2015. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals is important because evidence indicates that diversity is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction as well as better educational experiences for health professions students. As such, increasing the number of physicians from communities underrepresented in medicine (URIM) practicing in the state is vital to the health of New Yorkers. Since 1985, AMSNY has supported an array of pipeline programs across the state with the intent of expanding the pool of students choosing careers in health and medicine. The goal of these programs is to provide academic enrichment and support to students from educationally and/or economically underserved backgrounds. These programs provide an opportunity that a majority of participants would not have had due to cultural and financial barriers. AMSNY oversees six core programs as part of its Diversity in Medicine grant that ultimately leads students into medical school, including a post-baccalaureate program at the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo (UB); and three master’s degree post-baccalaureate programs at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, and New York Medical College. These programs are unique in that students must first apply to a New York State medical school and be interviewed by the school’s admissions committee. If the admissions committee believes the student would be a good addition to the school, they will recommend him/her to one of the four post-bac programs. If, upon completion of the post-baccalaureate program, the student meets the program and the referring school’s requirements, he/she will automatically be accepted into the referring medical school. As you will see in the attachment, 93% of students that participate in AMSNY’s UB post- baccalaureate program enter medical school, and 85% graduate. In our master’s degree post- baccalaureate programs, 94% of the students enter medical school. The other core programs provide support for an academic learning center at CUNY School of Medicine – a seven-year BS/MD program that students enter directly from high school; and a research program at CCNY that links junior and senior undergraduate students with NIH-funded researchers to prepare them for careers in medical school and/or the basic sciences.

CUNY School of Medicine Academic Learning Center

AMSNY supports the CUNY School of Medicine Learning Resource Center (LRC) which provides academic support to students who enter the seven-year school directly from high school and graduate with a BS/MD degree. Since its inception, the LRC has provided thousands of counseling and workshop hours to CUNY students. The LRC provides educational and academic support services and resources to all of the CUNY School of Medicine students, whether they are in the “undergraduate” (first three years leading to a BS degree) or “graduate” (last 4 years leading to an MD degree) portion of the school. Some of the key services offered through the LRC include: academic counseling and coaching through a pre-matriculation workshop which helps incoming freshmen transition to an accelerated college program, tutoring which is often provided in a peer-to-peer setting, as well as problem-based learning skills seminars, and early academic evaluation and intervention of “at-risk” students through standardized learning assessments. The LRC also provides seminars for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and mini-boards. Funding through the AMSNY helps the LRC meet the increasing needs and demands for academic and clinical support services from our undergraduate and medical students, especially students whose pre- college education has not sufficiently prepared them for the rigors of an accelerated college program, and subsequent medical curriculum. CUNY School of Medicine is also unique in that the students come from New York State, most are from racial and ethnic backgrounds which are underrepresented in medicine, and the school focuses on preparing students for careers in primary care. AMSNY and the LRC help prepare the next generation of physicians from New York to care for the population of New York City.  

City College of New York Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program

The Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program at CCNY provides stipend support to undergraduate science majors who are conducting research in laboratories within the Division of Science or in outside research facilities. In the past we have also been able to provide a small stipend to their mentors. Students engaged in research must spend a minimum of ten hours per week in the laboratory. Traditionally, most of the students must work in order to pay for their educational expenses at the sacrifice of research experience. The stipend support makes it possible for students to participate in research and still earn money, giving them the option not to work. The mentor support helps to cover research laboratory expenses. The purpose of the Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program is to increase the likelihood that students who express an interest in a career in medicine or research are successful in their pursuit. The research component of the program helps to define their interests and set them apart from other graduate and medical school applicants. The students in the AMSNY/DOH Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program present posters of their projects at scientific and professional conferences where they make connections with graduate and professional schools and programs, government agencies and research institutions. Presenting also assists students with interviewing skills, scientific fluency and strengthens all aspects of their graduate school applications. AMSNY has been following Pathways students as they move on from CCNY and have found that many of the students do pursue careers in the health sciences. From 2008 to 2018, 26 students have gone on to medical school and/or an MD/PhD program, 35 students have sought careers in the biomedical sciences, including PhD and master’s degree programs, working in research labs, as well as teaching, and 10 students have gone on to other health careers such as optometry and as physician assistants. In the 2017-2018 academic year, 13 students participated in the program each semester (At its height, AMSNY supported 30 students and mentors per semester). Of those students, the mean GPA was 3.51 with the students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and English/Pre-Medical. All of the students presented scientific posters at the City College Academy for Professional Preparation (CCAPP) and three students presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). One student received a Fulbright Fellowship Award and another student was awarded an American Chemical Society Award. In closing, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify this morning. As you can see, AMSNY has been overseeing two very successful programs at CUNY—both of which are for underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health professions. To further support these students and to aid them in their education we would like to expand our scholarship program to students who are in their final four years of CUNY School of Medicine and to increase the stipend for and number of students who participate in our Careers in Medicine and Research Program at CCNY. The expansion of these programs can be designed to include an obligation to work in New York City once the individual has completed his/her education.

New York State Research Institutions Celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day on 10/10/2018

(New York, NY) – Wednesday, October 10, 2018 is Stem Cell Awareness Day, and research institutions across New York are joining the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) to spread the news that groundbreaking stem cell research is happening across the state. This year also marks 20 years since scientists first discovered how to derive stem cells, leading to a medical revolution.

“Unfortunately at least once in their lives most people are faced with someone close to them who  is battling a disease such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, Alzheimer’s or heart disease. Luckily, scientists are making strides in advancing breakthrough discoveries in pursuit of new treatments—thanks to stem cells,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President of AMSNY. “Many of these incredible advancements have been made by researchers right here in New York, thanks to the New York State Stem Cell Science Program.”

Stem cells open up new avenues for biomedical researchers because of their unique ability to develop into many different types of cells, making it possible to study many disease types, and to repair and replace any damaged body tissue. They allow researchers to model diseases in labs so they can study their progression, develop personalized treatments, and test existing drugs for new uses. And, stem cells can replicate indefinitely, making them abundant.

As part of AMSNY’s efforts to raise awareness, the organization is working with research institutions to promote stem cell research findings via social media using #StemCellAwarenessDay, and releasing a series of short videos that explain stem cell research.

It’s important to note that while stem cells represent the next frontier of medical breakthroughs, federal funding for stem cell science is limited. That’s why New York State created the Stem Cell Science program (NYSTEM) in 2007 to fund stem cell research. It has been tremendously successful, leading to more than $152 million in additional support from other sources, and creating over 750 jobs across the state, in addition to advances in healthcare.

NYSTEM-funded research happening in New York State includes:

  • Research to treat age-related macular degeneration (blindness) with adult retinal stem cell transplants.
  • Studying schizophrenia using cerebral organoids, in which stem cells are grown into “mini-brains” that resemble the developing human brain in its earliest stages.
  • Using stem cell models of brain tumors, colon cancer, and more to screen existing drugs for effectiveness in fighting these illnesses.
  • Discovering a new class of stem cells that have properties allowing them to develop into various types of heart cells, to home in on the site of an injury and repair it.
  • Exploring novel treatments for devastating inherited diseases affecting a patient’s enzymes, including Krabbe, Gaucher and Tay-Sachs diseases.

Learn more about researchers supported by NYSTEM here.


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is the consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to be the voice of medical education in New York State, advancing biomedical research, diversity in medical school and the physician workforce, and high quality, cost-efficient patient care. The combined economic impact of New York’s medical schools economic is more than $85.6 billion, meaning that $1 in every $13 in New York State’s economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information about AMSNY, please visit:

Announcing AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Recipients

AMSNY is proud to announce our 10 scholarship recipients for 2018-2019!
The AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship has two goals: decrease medical students’ debt load and provide physicians for medically underserved areas in NYS, as students commit to two years of service in a designated underserved area in New York State.

The scholarship, which is pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition is available to those students who have completed an AMSNY post-baccalaureate program and who agree to work in an underserved area in NYS upon completion of their medical education.

To learn more about the AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Program visit Diversity in Medicine Scholarship .

Here are our scholarship recipients for 2018/19:



Undergrad: Yale University, BA (History of Science/History of Medicine), ’07
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’20

Natasha was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and witnessed “health disparities” long before she was old enough to understand the term. During a leave of absence in her undergraduate career, Natasha served with AmeriCorps at a federally qualified health center in the South Bronx. That experience inspired her to return to the health center after graduation to implement various quality improvement projects with the goal to help make the Bronx a healthier place. Natasha subsequently pursued a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and worked diligently to get into medical school through the AMSNY Post-Baccalaureate Program. As a physician, she wants to serve disadvantaged and Latino populations within an urban setting. Natasha plans to pursue a residency in primary care and to work with underserved communities improving preventative care.



Undergrad: Barnard College of Columbia University, BA (Africana Studies), ’15
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’21

Karole was raised by her biological parents who were also foster parents to a number of children and believes that her diverse upbringing exposed her to the power of inclusion and the need for care. When she was in college, Karole’s father experienced long hospitalization after receiving an incorrect hernia repair which exposed Karole to the pitfalls in the healthcare system and which led to her interest in health disparities. Karole feels strongly that all individuals should receive quality treatment regardless of race, gender, disability, neighborhood or history of trauma. Karole intends to work in a publicly funded hospital after completing her training and return to serve the disenfranchised communities that sparked her interest.


Undergrad: Middlebury College, BA (Spanish), ’09
Masters: Drexel University, MS, ’11
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’14
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD,’19

Melissa was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was exposed to medicine through her pursuit of a career in forensics and law enforcement. Melissa took an undergraduate psychology course and then interned at the Medical Examiner’s Office of New York. While working there, she was mentored by the Chief of Staff and Director of Forensic Investigations and learned more about healthcare delivery which changed her path to medical school. As a graduate student, Melissa participated in research related to cardiovascular disease in Latina women of the Bronx and developed a passion for healthcare activism, social justice, and mentorship. Melissa is currently a fourth-year medical student and plans to do her residency in general surgery. She is looking forward to practicing as a female surgeon of color in Brooklyn.


Undergrad: State University of New York at Oswego, BS (Biology), ’13
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’15
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’19

Bradley, a fourth-year student at Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, gained interested in becoming a physician when he was 10 years old, when a physician took the time to comfort him after delivering the news of his father’s tumor. With his sights on medical school, Bradley attended SUNY Oswego, where the director of the College Science Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) mentored him through the medical school application process. While in medical school, Bradley has volunteered extensively at the medical school’s drop-in clinic where free, routine healthcare and preventive services are provided to underserved and uninsured Buffalo residents, as well as planning and running community events. He is also heavily involved in the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and their mentoring program for minority students called RX for Success.These experiences have solidified Bradley’s interest and commitment to working as a physician in an underserved area.


Undergrad: Queens College, BS (Psychology), ’13
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Catherina was born in New York to Haitian immigrant parents who experienced financial hardships. Growing up, Catherina found a community through her church and was active in their community service activities, including distributing food at homeless shelters and playing the violin at a local senior center. Catherina also had hands-on experience with medicine while helping her mother take care of her grandmother who suffered from a number of chronic illnesses as well as a brain aneurism. Monitoring her grandmother’s medications and serving as a caregiver at such an early age sparked Catherina’s interest in becoming a physician, a goal which she has pursued to SUNY Downstate where she is a second-year student this fall. Catherina has worked as a medical scribe for an urgent care facility, giving her a firsthand look at the health disparities in New York. She looks forward to serving a disadvantaged community here when she is finished with her training.


Undergrad: Le Moyne College, BS (Biology), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’21

Zacharia was born in war-torn Somalia but was raised in a refugee camp in Kenya by his older sister for 12 years before gaining asylum in the United States. When Zacharia and his sister relocated to Syracuse, New York, he was unable to read, write, or speak English in addition to many other struggles as an immigrant. His passion for medicine grew from watching his older sister lose her eyesight and battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from her experiences in Somalia. After spending some years learning English, Zacharia was a translator for his sister and her healthcare staff which intensified his passion for medicine and for helping individuals in need. Zacharia is back in Syracuse for medical school in his second year at SUNY Upstate Medical University and looks forward to practicing in underserved communities, providing both medical care and empathy gained through his own personal experiences.


Undergrad: Stony Brook University, BS (Health Science) ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Akya grew up in Brooklyn, New York, after her mother immigrated from Jamaica to secure better services for her son who is profoundly mentally disabled. Akya learned that while medical care was better in the United States, her mother and brother still struggled to access quality medicine and culturally competent care. This inequity led Akya to pursue a career in medicine but also drove her to serve vulnerable communities and individuals who are chronically underserved. After completing her post-bac degree at the AMSNY University at Buffalo program, Akya is in Brooklyn starting her second year of medical school this fall. Akya describes a commitment to serve as an honor, rather than a requirement, and she is excited to work with an underserved community as a gastroenterologist after residency.


Undergrad: University of Connecticut, BS (Biological Science), ’14
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’17
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Before moving to the Bronx at age 11, Diana lived in the Dominican Republic and initially struggled to learn English when she came to New York. Through her parents’ urging, after graduating from her eighth grade English as a Second Language (ESL) program, she transitioned into a high school without an ESL program and had to quickly pick up the English language. While in high school, she participated in a summer internship at St. Vincent Medical Center’s Emergency Department. It was through this program that she gained a deeper understanding of how important it is for physicians to provide quality care and to help patients make better health choices. After college, Diana worked as a Perinatal Health Coordinator at the Institute for Family Health providing health education and guidance to low-income pregnant women. Diana says that growing up in the Bronx, one of the poorest counties in the country, leads her to view advocacy and justice as an obligation for healthcare professionals. Diana is starting her second year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and looks forward to providing proactive healthcare to underserved areas.


Undergrad: Cornell University, BA (Sociology), ’12
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’20

Sebastian grew up in a single-parent home in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother continually sacrificed for his well-being and led him to develop a passion of putting others first at a young age. Throughout high school, he helped translate for his grandmother when she saw the doctor since her physician was not fluent in Haitian-Creole. Even with the language barrier, Sebastian recalls that the physician served as an advocate, healer, and teacher for his grandmother which led him to also pursue a career as a doctor. Sebastian looks forward to serving a medically underserved community because he grew up in one himself and feels it is his duty to return the service. Sebastian is starting his third year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has a long-term goal of establishing a health care center in an underserved area to offer holistic and culturally appropriate care.


Undergrad: Barnard College of Columbia University, BA (Anthropology), ’07
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’16
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’20

Nefertiti was raised in Harlem, New York, as the youngest of six siblings. At a young age, her family and many personal mentors in her community instilled strong values of education, hard work and perseverance, and a deep commitment to community empowerment. Her mother has been a nurse midwife in Harlem for over 30 years, which originally attracted Nefertiti to community- based healthcare. She is interested in medicine because it provides an opportunity for her to advocate for equity in social and health services that under- served communities lack. Nefertiti is passionate about solving systematic healthcare disparities by providing resources for access to mental health services in conjunction with physical health care. She is equally supportive of promoting primary care prevention, as a means to support the growth of more sustainable and healthy communities. She is currently in her third year at SUNY Upstate Medical University and plans to practice in a publicly funded hospital once she completes her training.

New York State Budget Restores Funding to Diversity in Medicine Programs

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), on Behalf of Underrepresented in Medicine Students, Thanks the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus

(New York, NY) – On behalf of all 16 medical schools in New York State, and particularly medical students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine, the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) commends NY State legislators for restoring funding for AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs in the FY2019 budget to the current year level.  The program was facing a 20 percent cut, on top of the 22.5 percent cut sustained last year.

“AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs, funded by the NYS Department of Health, have a 94+ percent success rate and have produced hundreds of doctors who often serve in primary care in underserved communities,” said Jo Wiederhorn, CEO of AMSNY.  “The return on investment for New York is enormous and we are grateful to the State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, the Hispanic Task Force, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for understanding this value and advocating for these programs.”

These state-funded programs are crucial, as a lack of diversity in medicine persists in New York State. Underrepresented minorities (Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos) make up approximately 31% of the population but only 12% of the state’s physician workforce, according to data from the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies.

This lack of representation has implications for medical care across the state, as research shows that patients who have doctors from similar racial or ethnic backgrounds have better medical experiences. Additionally, physicians from underrepresented minority groups are more likely to practice primary care and practice in low-income and underserved areas.

The new budget also includes $500,000 for diversity in medicine scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition for 1 year for 10 students who graduated from AMSNY post-baccalaureate programs. The cost of medical school tuition is among the biggest barriers to entry for underrepresented in medicine students.

AMSNY’s state-funded Diversity in Medicine Program has enabled over 480 students from economically or educationally underserved areas to become doctors. The programs include the 25-year-old, one-year post-baccalaureate program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and master’s programs at New York Medical College, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit:


Contact: Jaime Williams,,  718-793-2211 ext 107

Letter to the Editor, Queens Chronicle: Save aid for med students

Dear Editor:

I’m an African-American male who grew up in Queens, and am now a third-year medical student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo thanks to a state-funded diversity in medicine pipeline program run by the Associated Medical Schools of New York.

This program has helped me tremendously. When I heard that the AMSNY programs are facing funding cuts, I was deeply saddened.

Many of the minority physicians that I have met have gone through the AMSNY programs, and it is their accomplishments that let me know that I too can one day become a physician and a role model in my community. Growing up in the inner city, I found that often times the easiest figures to try to emulate were athletes or entertainers. It wasn’t until I was introduced to other professionals that I started to believe a vocation like this was something I could achieve.

The inclusion of underrepresented minorities in our medical ranks as physicians is critical to continuing progress in healthcare. Cutting funding to programs like AMSNY that address the problem of the disparity in healthcare representation would be a disservice, not only to the practice of medicine but to minority communities.

Samuel Opoku-Acheampong
The writer is from Springfield Gardens.

Letter to the Editor, Syracuse Post-Standard: Don’t cut funding for diversity in medicine program

To the Editor:

I am a Latina who grew up in Syracuse. My parents migrated from the Dominican Republic to provide our family with better opportunities. One of these opportunities that has changed my life and opened many doors for me is the Associated Medical Schools of New York‘s Post Baccalaureate program at University at Buffalo.

Growing up on the Near Westside always made me question my ability of achieving my goal and becoming a doctor. I was told many times my goal was too big. This program has given me the opportunity to finally reach my goal, and provided me with resources I need to prepare myself to be a successful doctor. Now, I will be attending SUNY Upstate Medical University.

This program, and other diversity in medicine pipeline programs from AMSNY, are funded by the New York state Department of Health, and this year are facing a 20 percent cut in funding. That means that 1 in 5 future AMSNY students from underrepresented backgrounds will not get the chance to become doctors. I have seen firsthand in Syracuse how important it is to have doctors from similar backgrounds to receive better medical experiences.

By becoming the best doctor I can be and serving my community, I am doing my part to improve healthcare in New York. I’m asking my representatives to do their part and protect funding for AMSNY programs.

Tiffany Mateo

NYS Assembly Restores Cuts to Diversity in Medicine Programs in Families First Budget Proposal

Associated Medical Schools of New York, on Behalf of Underrepresented in Medicine Students, Thanks State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes


In response to the release of the New York State Assembly FY19 Families First budget proposal, Associated Medical Schools of New York President Jo Wiederhorn issued the following statement:

“Students who are underrepresented in medicine today gained a champion in the State Assembly with the restoration of cuts proposed to the highly successful and much-needed diversity in medicine programs run by AMSNY.

“And they are not the only winners in this proposed budget; New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds will be better served and experience improved health outcomes when they have access to doctors who represent their diversity.

“New York has a big gap between diverse doctors and diverse patients.  For 25 years, AMSNY diversity in medicine programs, thanks to funding from New York State, has worked to close the gap by paving the way for more underrepresented in medicine students to become doctors.

“The programs have a 94+ percent success rate and have produced hundreds of doctors who often serve in primary care in underserved communities.  The return on investment is enormous and we are grateful to the State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for proposing a restoration to the cuts.”

The State Assembly proposed restoring the program budget to $1,244,000, up $248,800 from the governor’s proposed budget.  The program was cut 22.5 percent in the FY18 budget. At its height, the program had a $1,960,000 budget and served more students from high school through post-baccalaureate.  For more information, visit

Business Insider: Why I’m Donating My Body to Science

A few years ago my mother told me she was donating her body to science. I investigated why this is a good alternative to a traditional funeral. In New York, the Associated Medical Schools of New York help license whole body donation programs amongst medical colleges in the state. These reputable schools serve as a protection against the darker side of body brokers. When I pass on, my body will be going to science. Following is a transcript of the video.

Kevin Reilly: When I die, this body is going straight to science. It’s not going in a casket. It’s not going to a crematorium. I’m going to donate it right to a medical school. Why?

Peggy Reilly: My name is Peggy Reilly. I’m 65 years old.

Kevin Reilly: This is my mother. And the story starts with her. She traveled all around the world, raised three awesome kids, and is generally amazing. But then something happened.

Peggy Reilly: I had a stroke on March 23rd, 2012.

Kevin Reilly: The stroke was caused by a blood vessel bursting in her brain. It changed everything.

Peggy Reilly: I miss working properly, taking care of my husband and my children. I miss that. And driving, and … taking care of the dogs, and cleaning the house. And walking. I miss all that.

Kevin Reilly: A few years after the stroke, she told me she wanted to donate her body to science. And my reaction was, “Why?” Because it’s expensive to have a funeral. But I’d like them to learn from my body, so that they can use everything from my whole entire body, and the bones and everything.

Funerals are expensive. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median price is about $7,300. And a cremation is only about a thousand dollars cheaper. This is a funeral pricing checklist from the Federal Trade Commission. Basic service for the funeral director and staff, pickup of body, embalming, other preparation of body, casket, funeral memorial service, graveside service, including staff and equipment, hearse.

This is ridiculous. I don’t want to put my loved ones through that. So this got me thinking that, like my mom, I should use what I have to help people once I’m dead. So I went to find out how I can donate my body.

This is Jo Wiederhorn. She’s the President and CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York. That’s the group that makes sure body donation programs in New York are legit.

Jo Wiederhorn: So the process is really very easy. First of all, when you decide that that’s what you want to do, you should contact the medical school that you want to donate to. And I would say that you should donate to a medical school. They are licensed; they go through a rigorous process to become licensed.

Kevin Reilly: Medical schools seem like an obvious choice, but there’s a darker reasoning behind this.

Newscast: Revealing new details about a case of human body parts sold on the black market. A private company was selling body parts from bodies that had been donated?

Kevin Reilly: There’s a whole cottage industry of “body brokers.”

Newscast: Some U.S. companies are making a fortune by selling human bodies that were donated to science.

Kevin Reilly: A Reuters investigation revealed that this often unregulated business is worth millions and rarely guarantees that your body is going to be used for what you hope for.

Wiederhorn: Really, if you want to ensure that your body is going to go for educational purposes, because that’s what most people want to do. They want to be able to help train the next era of physicians. So, the best place to do that is to a medical school. Every single one of our, we have 16 medical schools in New York. Every single one of them has a donor program.

Kevin Reilly: Dr. Jeffrey Laitman is the Director of Anatomy and Functional Morphology at the Icahn School of Madison at Mount Sinai. This is where my body will wind up. But I needed to know why these schools really wanted my body.

Dr. Jeffrey Laitman: The laying on of hands is a sacred trust, a very, very special thing to do. That process begins in the first day of an anatomy class. It’s a very difficult thing for a student to do. In our culture, we refer to the cadaver as one’s first patient.

Kevin Reilly: But with all the advances in technology, from VR to animatronics, why do they need to use real bodies?

Mark Bailey [Student]: Everything up to this point is very conceptual: PowerPoint slides, drawings in books. And this is the first time you see a tangible representation of humanity and how we’re going to treat them.

Kevin Reilly: The students dissect cadavers in their first anatomy classes, practicing on human bodies before they ever step into a surgery room. And even experienced doctors continue to use cadavers.

Laitman: Other things can be helpful. And you can learn from models and computer programs and all sorts of wonderful adjuncts. But the key of medicine as long as you’ll be treating real people is gonna be learning from real people.

Grace Mosley [Student]: The body is not just a box that has organs in it. Everything’s not always in the same place. Within the course we have oral exams in which the teaching assistants will come around and ask us questions about all of the different structures that we should have dissected or learned the names of. And my first oral exam, I was so nervous. But I felt calmer than expected, and I realized at the end of the test that I had actually been holding my cadaver’s hand, which was somewhat horrifying but strangely comforting.

Kevin Reilly: And if you’re wondering what happens to the cadavers once they’re done with them …

Laitman: And when the course is over, the remains are then either cremated or buried, depending upon the wishes of the deceased.

Kevin Reilly: Each year, many of the schools hold special ceremonies honoring the donors. Here at the University of Buffalo, friends and family were invited to join the students and doctors. That’s right, I get a service, burial or cremation, and I’m helping to train doctors. Cost? Zero. It’s covered by the school.

Now, to be clear, donating your body to science is different from being an organ donor on your license. With whole-body donation, the organs are kept intact. Students need all the parts to learn about the whole body. So the only thing left to do is mail out the form, because when I go, this is going to science.

If you want to find out more about whole-body donation, call your local medical school. Or use this full list of programs put together by the Anatomical Board of the State of Florida.