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Racette joins NIH environmental health advisory council

Physician-scientist is environmental manganese exposure expert

June 13, 2018

Brad Racette, MD, the Robert Allan Finke Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named to the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council. His term began in May and will continue through the end of November 2021.

The council advises the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on environmental health, including making recommendations for funding biomedical research and research training activities in environmental health. Council members also take a bird’s-eye view of the environmental health research being conducted nationwide, and recommend actions to promote additional research in neglected areas.

A nationally recognized expert in Parkinson’s disease, Racette studies the relationship between the movement disorder and occupational and environmental exposures to manganese and other toxic compounds. Using Medicare data, he has shown that Parkinson’s is concentrated in the Midwest and Eastern United States, with the burden especially high in counties with high industrial manganese emissions. By imaging the brain, he showed that manganese affects the same neural circuits as Parkinson’s disease. He leads an international research team that conducts environmental studies in South Africa and Finland to find ways to protect people from the debilitating neurological disease.