Brain and Environment Symposium

Organized by The University of Rochester, the Brain and Environment symposium highlights the role that toxicants in our food, water, and air are playing in brain diseases from autism and intellectual disabilities in children to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in seniors. By fostering cross-disciplinary dialogue and knowledge exchange, the symposium acts as a catalyst for identifying the root causes of brain diseases and developing strategies for prevention and intervention through policy, research, education, and advocacy efforts.

Brain diseases are the world’s leading source of disability, even more than cancer, heart disease, or infectious conditions. Many of them are man-made and tied to pesticides, dry cleaning chemicals (like those at Camp Lejeune), and air pollution. To that extent, these disabling and deadly conditions are also preventable.

Rochester: A Community Dedicated to Preventing Disease

Rochester has a tradition of preventing disease.

In 2005, Rochester’s so called “lead law” was passed in response to the community’s effort to address elevated blood levels of lead in children, and experts have described the prevention effort as “the ‘smartest’ in the nation.” Rochester successfully reduced the number of children with high lead levels by 80% from 1997 to 2011, 2.4 times faster than the rest of New York State. One reporter wrote, “What separates Rochester’s approach from other cities…is simple: the city decided to start looking for lead…rather than waiting to act.”

We can do the same for Parkinson’s disease and many types of cancer. In order to prevent diseases, however, we must first identify their causes.

The University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is one of the nation’s leading private research universities. Our motto, Meliora (“ever better”), embodies our mission: to learn, discover, heal, create–and make the world ever better. Founded in 1850, the University of Rochester combines the intellectual excitement of a major research institution with a medical center, school of music, and community art museum, with the personalization and hallmarks of a comprehensive liberal arts education, including a unique cluster-based undergraduate curriculum. For more information, visit:

University of Rochester Medical Center

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. It forms the centerpiece of the University of Rochester’s health research, teaching and patient care missions. The University of Rochester Medical Center is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian, and nonprofit research university. For more information, visit:

Ray Dorsey, MD University of Rochester

Ray Dorsey, MD

Dr. Ray Dorsey is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester and one of the world’s most read, cited, and followed neurologists. With his colleagues, he wrote Ending Parkinson’s Disease, a book that provides a prescription for preventing and ending the world’s fastest growing brain disease.

Ray previously directed the University of Rochester’s Center for Health + Technology, was elected chair of the international Huntington Study Group, led the movement disorders division and neurology telemedicine at Johns Hopkins, and consulted for McKinsey & Company.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Stanford University and pursued his medical education and neurology training at the University of Pennsylvania where he also earned an MBA in healthcare management from the Wharton School.

In 2015, the White House recognized Ray as a “Champion for Change” for Parkinson’s disease.