ICYMI: Downstate Hosts 2nd Annual Plant-Based Health & Nutrition Conference

By Office of Communications & Marketing | May 12, 2022

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University hosted their 2nd annual Plant-Based Health and Nutrition Conference on Friday, May 6th. The event, which summarized the scientific evidence on the benefits of plant-based nutrition with regard to preventing and treating chronic disease, included leading experts in the field of health and nutrition, as well as representatives from New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office.

The speakers shared expert views supporting plant-based nutrition in managing (and reversing) chronic disease, using plant-based nutrition to optimize athletic endurance and performance, and implementing strategies that help individuals and families transition to a plant-predominant diet.

“As the chair of the Downstate Committee on Plant-based Nutrition and Health, I am grateful to be speaking alongside so many experts in the field of plant-based nutrition,” said Dr. Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, MBA, Distinguished Professor, program director, and Chairman of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat). “The conference today has highlighted the many benefits of plant-based diets including how the adoption of a plant-based diet can lead to natural, and often sustained, weight loss among people who are overweight, obese, or who have a high body mass index.”

Downstate proudly hosted the second successful conference on plant-based health and nutrition,” said SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “The literature is clear that plant-based diets can prevent, treat, and even reverse certain chronic diseases in adults that include hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high levels of lipids in the blood. Moreover, there are numerous success stories—including NYC Mayor Eric Adams—who have greatly benefited from plant-based dieting.

The Committee on Plant-Based Health and Nutrition at Downstate promotes awareness of the health benefits of plant-based nutrition, provide a forum for multidisciplinary interaction, and to discuss ways to integrate plant-based health into resident training, medical student education, and the overall culture at Downstate.

The conference was chaired and moderated by Elizabeth Helzner, PhD, MS, DipACLM, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health. The co-chair of the event was Dr. Richard Rosenfeld.

Speakers for the event included: 

  • Columbus Batiste, MD
  • Michelle McMackden, MD, FACP, DipABLM
  • Robert Ostfeld, MD, MSc
  • Rachel Atcheson, Senior Assistant of the Mayor of NYC
  • Lianna Levine Reisner, MSOD
  • Mare Gomez-Bolaños, PPMNY Latinx Community Organizer
  • Sumeet Bahl, MD
  • Shivam Joshi, MD
  • Chef Brandy Cochrane
  • Sapana Shah, MD, MPH
  • Danielle Medina, BS
  • Karla Rodriguez, DNP, RN, CNE, DipACLM
  • Lily Correa, MPH, RD, DipACLM
  • Lori Pitkowsky, MSW, NBC-HWC. PPMNY Community Support Facilitator

See the video from the conference here.


Contact: Dawn S. Walker
917.439.9666 | 347.533.2071

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn's 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate's teaching hospital, backed by an outstanding medical school's expertise and world-class academic center research facilities. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs—Downstate also sponsors a major learning center for young children with developmental disorders and disabilities. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.