URMC to Host National Developmental Disabilities Health Conference

Aug. 9, 2018
Annual conference aims to reduce health disparities among people with disabilities
Stephen Sulkes, M.D.

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will host the 2019 annual conference of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD). The event, the preeminent conference for physicians, dentists, and other providers who treat patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will take place from May 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester.

The conference, in its 17th year, typically draws about 400 people.

Annual medical conferences often center on the latest research in the field, but AADMD has always focused on being a resource for health care provider training and education, said Stephen Sulkes, M.D., president of AADMD and professor of Pediatrics at URMC.

“Most of our members are clinicians, and so the annual conference is really about disseminating information on what is working clinically,” said Sulkes. “It’s really about education, and showing how to help practitioners get more comfortable working with patients with disabilities.”

Sulkes, who last year was honored with the first-ever Golisano Global Health Leadership Award, served as president-elect for AADMD for the past two years and took over as president last month.

In addition to its educational mission, the organization works with several other national partners — including Special Olympics and The Golisano Foundation — to advocate for the best health across the lifespan for people with disabilities. So in his role as president, Sulkes has started work advancing various advocacy efforts. Recently, he met with the United States Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, in the hopes of bringing more attention to the topic of health disparities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s well-documented that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have some significant disparities in terms of their health,” he said. “And while a portion of it can be explained by co-morbidities that occur along with their disability, a very large part is inequities within the system — such as having to travel long distances to find a provider who is comfortable treating them, if they can find one at all.”

URMC is home to the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The center advances policy and practice for individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities through research, education, and service.

AADMD, founded in 2002, provides a forum for healthcare professionals who provide clinical care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For more information on AADMD, visit