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Harold Paz

Dr. Harold Paz. File photo by Stony Brook Medicine/Jeanne Neville

Two years after he joined Stony Brook University as executive vice president for health sciences, Dr. Harold “Hal” Paz is no longer one of the most senior members of New York State’s southern flagship university staff.

An internal SBU announcement that went out Friday, Oct. 6, from the office of President Maurie McInnis indicated that Paz, whose page on the Renaissance School of Medicine website no longer links to information about him, will be replaced on an interim basis by Dr. William Wertheim.

Wertheim joined Stony Brook in 1996 and had been serving as the vice dean for graduate academic affairs at the Renaissance School of Medicine, where he had previously been interim dean.

Wertheim is also an Endowed Chair in Graduate Medical Education at the School of Medicine and is president of the Stony Brook Medicine Community Medical Group.

While Stony Brook didn’t offer a reason for Paz’s departure, officials indicated it is “not our practice to discuss personnel matters.”

Paz had come to SBU from The Ohio State University, where he was executive vice president and chancellor for health affairs and chief executive officer of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Paz, who was Chief Executive Officer of Stony Brook University Medicine, reported to McInnis and was a member of her senior leadership team.

When Stony Brook announced that executive vice president and provost Carl Lejuez joined the university in May 2022, the university signaled that Lejuez would work collaboratively with Paz.

Paz had also been working with academic, hospital and clinical leadership and with community partners in his role.

The announcement of Paz’s departure from SBU, which came two years and two days after his official start date, did not include a list of any of Paz’s achievements, initiatives or contributions to the university.

Before joining The Ohio State University, Paz was the executive vice president and chief medical officer for CVS Health/Aetna, serving as a leader in the company’s domestic and global businesses. He also served as dean of the College of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University and CEO of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System.

Paz had succeeded Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, who retired as senior vice president of health sciences, in June 2021.

Paz serves on the National Academy of Medicine Leadership Consortium, the board of directors of Research America and the Curai Health advisory board.

In April, Paz was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Accelerating Treatments and Improving Quality of Life committee.

Wertheim’s tenure

Wertheim started his Stony Brook career by leading the Medical Consult Services. He later served as associate program director and director of the primary care track of the Internal Medicine residency, then Internal Medicine residency program director, and then executive vice chair of the Department of Medicine and associate dean for clinical outreach.

Wertheim has also served as the president of the medical staff at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Wertheim graduated from Harvard University and New York University School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Michigan Hospitals, where he served as chief resident.

Wertheim worked as a clinical faculty member at the University of Michigan’s Veterans Administration Hospital. In New York, he worked at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.

The letter from the president’s office announcing the changes urged the community to “join us in congratulating Dr. Wertheim on his appointment and welcoming him to his new role.”

Nikhil Palekar, MD. Photo by Jeanne Neville/Stony Brook Medicine

Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease selected as the only recipient on Long Island, and one of only 10 NYSDOH-supported, hospital-based centers of its kind in New York State

Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD) was awarded a new $2.35 million, state-funded grant over five years (2022-27 grant cycle) by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and renews on June 1. Of the 10 NYSDOH-supported, hospital-based centers in the state, Stony Brook Medicine is the only recipient of this competitive grant on Long Island and will continue to serve the growing needs of communities in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

To qualify as a Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, a hospital-based center must meet rigorous standards which are measured and reviewed annually. These include: high quality diagnostic and assessment services for people with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia; patient management and care; referral of patients and their caregivers to community services; training and continuing education to medical professionals and students on the detection, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

With scientific strides being made in identifying potential new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Stony Brook’s efforts during this five-year grant cycle will also include a continued focus on research.

“The renewal of this important NYSDOH grant comes at a time when there are a growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease in our state, many of whom reside in underserved communities right here on Long Island,” said Harold Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President Health Sciences, Stony Brook University, and Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Medicine. “It reinforces the strong reputation Stony Brook has built over the years, as an expert in diagnosis, care, training and resources, and as an institution committed to being at the forefront of research and clinical trials seeking effective treatments and a cure.”

A Growing Population of 65+

According to the DOH, 410,000 New Yorkers age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, this number is expected to increase to 460,000 New Yorkers needing care for Alzheimer’s disease. Long Island has the second-highest age 65+ population in New York State after New York City. On Long Island’s East End, approximately 36 percent of homes have at least one person in the household who is over 65 years of age.

“We are honored once again to be recognized for all that our team and community partners have accomplished as we continue to serve this vulnerable population,” said Nikhil Palekar, MD, Director, Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Palekar, who joined Stony Brook in 2017, has been instrumental in developing the Center’s mission and services.

An expert in the treatment and research of cognitive and mood disorders in older adults with grant funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Dr. Palekar encourages people who are having trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions to get screened and diagnosed — the sooner the better. “When the brain is unable to function well, your entire health starts to suffer. If you’re having memory issues, you’re probably forgetting to take your medications for blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, causing a worsening of chronic medical conditions,” he noted.

Cognitive Screenings, Clinical Trials, Federally Qualified Health Center Partnerships

The Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, part of the Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute, now offers free cognitive screening clinics to the community at CEAD’s offices at Putnam Hall on the campus of Stony Brook University, as well as at Stony Brook’s Advanced Specialty Care location in Commack. The Stony Brook CEAD staff is also available to conduct free screenings in communities on Long Island upon request. Each individual screened will receive the screening results on the spot so that they can bring the results to their primary care physician for further assessment and treatment if needed.

The Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease also offers a variety of clinical trials in support of groundbreaking research studies on aging, memory, and dementia. Stony Brook has been selected as a study site for several clinical trials, including monoclonal antibody therapy trials that target amyloid plaque for the treatment of mild Alzheimer’s disease.

Another new initiative of the Stony Brook CEAD is the establishment of partnerships with several federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) on Long Island to help meet the needs of unserved and underserved people spanning communities from the east end to those bordering Queens. Stony Brook CEAD will provide free cognitive screening assessments, educational resources, training for physicians, and opportunities to participate in research studies and clinical trials, which will help improve early diagnosis and quality of life for people in these communities living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

For more information about the Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, visit ceadlongisland.org.

About the Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute:

Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute is the regional leader in diagnosing and treating a full range of brain, neurological and psychiatric disorders in adults and children. As a tertiary care center, we also serve as the “go-to” medical facility for community physicians and other specialists in the region who have complicated cases and seek advanced care for their patients. We bring the expertise of renowned specialists together with the use of sophisticated technology to deliver high-quality, disease-specific, comprehensive care for patients, while providing peace of mind to their families. This care includes access to various resources and therapies to assist with rehabilitation and reintegration into everyday living during and after treatment. The Institute features more than 15 specialty centers and programs — several that are unique to our region — and more than 70 research laboratories dedicated to the study of various neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases. The Institute also provides challenging yet supportive educational experiences that prepare graduates to practice in a variety of clinical and academic settings. To learn more, visit www.neuro.stonybrookmedicine.edu.