Today, Upstate Medical University presents 16 awards at its fall convocation. The most prestigious of these — the SUNY Distinguished Service Award — is being given to Sharon Brangman, MD. Below is her biography, as it appears in the convocation program.
By Stephanie DeJoseph
An inspiration at home and across the nation, Dr. Sharon Brangman is recognized as the leading ethnogeriatrician and one of most influential geriatricians today. She is described countless times, throughout numerous nominations that came from several prestigious institutions, as the expert in geriatrics. She is also credited as “a wonderful role model for all who seek to serve humanity.” As the foremost advocate for the care of the elderly in Central New York, a highly sought-after clinician who is the consultant for medical professionals caring for aging parents and a leading educator, Dr. Brangman has led the way for modern care of the geriatric patient.
Dr. Brangman joined the Upstate faculty in 1989 and has served as her department chair for more than 15 years. One nominator recalled conversations with her mother, Ruby Brangman, one of our first nurse practitioners. “I watched Sharon grow to be an excellent student and physician,” she said. As the driving force behind the fellowship in geriatric medicine, she founded the program that has been consistently accredited for 22 years and has trained more than 50 geriatricians. “Her name is synonymous with geriatrics,” commented one.
As a clinician, she maintains an active outpatient and inpatient practice at University Hospital. In addition, she directs programs such as Upstate’s Transitional Living facility and a number of the area’s nursing homes and assisted living centers. In 2005, she developed a novel program called Acute Care for the Elderly, or ACE. Another said: “Sharon’s leadership accomplishments are somewhat breathtaking.”
As an educator, she developed the curricula in geriatric medicine for medical students, residents and fellows. She is the developer and principal investigator for the SUNY Network Aging Program (SNAP), which has brought together geriatrics leaders from SUNY Downstate, Stony Brook and Buffalo. Under her leadership, SNAP was successful in obtaining SUNY funding to evaluate cognitive and physical frailty in older adults. As a grant recipient, she has brought more than $700,000 to our institution.
An excellent speaker, Dr. Brangman is in great demand nationally on the issues of geriatric care, Alzheimer’s disease and diversity issues. “She is clearly imbued with strong scholarly and clinical skills, but it is a rare physician who can communicate complex issues for a varied audience,” said a nominator.
Embracing her African American heritage, Dr. Brangman was the founding chair of the Ethnogeriatric Committee of the American Geriatric Society (AGS) and led this organization in recognizing the importance of the relationship between race, ethnicity and religious background on the aging process. She has been an invaluable member of Upstate’s Minority Faculty Working Group, Affirmative Action Committee and student mentoring program. “She is a role model: not only for African-American medical students, or not only for women faculty in medical schools, but for anyone, of any ethnicity or gender or profession, seeking to live a life of service that enriches the world for others and contributes to a world that is more just, more compassionate, more wise,” said a nominator.
Dr. Brangman is a contributor and an editor of the series Doorway Thoughts: Cross Cultural Health Care of Older Adults, a three- set volume that gives health care professionals essential perspectives that are needed to provide culturally appropriate care to older adults.
She has been president of the American Geriatrics Association and American Geriatrics Society and is president-elect of the Association of Program Directors of Academic Geriatric Programs. She has been an adviser to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and served as an expert panelist for the White House Conference on Aging. In addition, she has been an active member of numerous other national, regional and local committees.
Consistently considered one of the Best Doctors in the Northeast, she is the recipient of the Onondaga County Medical Society’s Award for Physician Service to Medicine and the Community and the P.E.A.C.E. Inc. Community Service Award. At Upstate, she has received the Chancellor’s Award and President’s Award, both for Faculty Service; and the President’s Award for Advancement of Affirmative Action. Dr. Brangman received a BS in Biology from Syracuse University in 1977 and an MD degree from Upstate Medical University in 1981. She completed her internship, residency and geriatric fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center.
“On a personal level, Dr. Brangman is a highly trusted colleague, a tireless advocate for excellent care of vulnerable elderly and an outstanding role model for young physicians,” said a nominator. “We should clone her,” summed another.