Gale Burstein, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
Erie County Department of Health
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo
About The Expert
Dr. Gale Burstein is the Erie County Commissioner of Health and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York's School Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
She holds a B.S. degree in mathematics and biology from Union College in Schenectady, NY; received her doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree from State University of New York's (SUNY) School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Buffalo; and gained her master's in public health from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, focusing on maternal and child health. In addition, she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
After completing her pediatric residency training, she began her public health career in 1993. Dr. Burstein directed the pediatric services in a large rural hospital in the Eastern Transvaal of South Africa. This was during that country's history when the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded throughout the country, Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president, and apartheid rule was abolished.
In 1999, Dr. Burstein's public health career continued at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where she served as a medical officer, conducting research and writing policy on adolescent sexual health care.
A Western New York native, upon her return to the area in 2005, she served in various roles at the Erie County Department of Health, including as medical director for the STD Clinic, TB Clinic and Epidemiology and Surveillance program.
Dr. Burstein was appointed the Erie County Commissioner of Health in 2012. Her current focus is on developing strategies to change health care providers' narcotics prescribing practices to prevent opioid addiction in Erie County. She also oversees a groundbreaking program that has significantly increased the availability of naloxone—to both first responders and community members—to prevent opioid overdose deaths. From mid-2014 to mid-2015, well over 1,000 Western New York first responders were trained by the Erie County Department of Health to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and to use intranasal naloxone to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.
Dr. Burstein is an active member of New York State's Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force that developed a strategic blueprint plan that will make New York State a national model for ending the HIV epidemic. As part of this effort, a pre-exposure prophylaxis program was developed to prevent HIV infection in high-risk persons in Erie County.
Dr. Burstein has coauthored American Academy of Pediatrics and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine position papers on adolescent sexual health; has been published in peer review medical journals; and trains health care providers across the country to "routinize" adolescent sexual health care services in primary care.
Dr. Burstein and her family reside in Erie County where she practices what she preaches by swimming several days a week before her workday begins. She is available to speak on a multitude of public health topics, including the importance of childhood immunizations; eliminating healthcare treatment inequities; educating adolescents about sexual health and prevention of STDs; and making family planning services available and affordable for all.