Beate Ritz is a professor of epidemiology, environmental health sciences, and neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she investigates environmental and genetic factors that influence the risk of developing chronic brain diseases, in particular Parkinson’s disease (PD). She has been the NIH-funded principal investigator of two of the largest community-based studies of PD worldwide, one in the central valley of California, the other in Denmark. These studies identified environmental and genetic risk factors for PD onset and progression using geographic information systems approaches. Her studies showed how our genetic make-up renders some of us vulnerable to neurodegeneration when exposed to environmental toxicants. Recently, her lab started work that employs metabolomic, genomic and epigenomic tools. She is past president of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology and served on numerous National Academy of Sciences and California State Scientific Advisory panels and committees.