Podcast Episode 61: The Launch of the PD GENEration Genetics Initiative

Parkinson’s disease (PD) may turn out to be not one disease but a group of similar conditions with different genetic risk factors, varying symptoms, and courses. Different genes may have variations between them or even variations within the same gene, with implications for symptoms, progression, and treatments. To help uncover key mechanisms responsible for PD and its progression, the Parkinson’s Foundation has launched PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease to study the genetic makeup of 15,000 people with the disease. The two main genes targeted in the study are carried by a minority of people with PD, but they may offer insights into mechanisms of the disease that operate in the larger population. In this podcast, Parkinson’s Foundation Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jim Beck describes the goals of this Parkinson’s study, how genes affect the course of the disease, and ultimately, how the results of the study may empower people to take better control of their disease.

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About This Episode

Released: August 13, 2019

James Beck, PhD

James Beck, PhD, has led the scientific affairs of the Parkinson's Foundation since 2008. Dr. Beck oversees the foundation’s research strategy and programs, including management of grants that support research centers, individual investigators, fellows and collaborative projects. In his role, he has changed the parameters of investigator-initiated grants programs to provide additional funding and multi-year support to Parkinson’s-focused scientists; expanded funding for early-career Parkinson’s researchers, established Conference Awards and instituted the inclusion of Parkinson's Foundation’s Research Advocates in the foundation's own programs. Dr. Beck is a member of the Forum on Regenerative Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences and the Udall Center Coordinating Committee.

Dr. Beck is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at the New York University School of Medicine. Previously, he taught at Long Island University as Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. Additionally, Dr. Beck was a recipient of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and has been published in journals, such as the Journal of NeuroscienceJournal of Neurophysiology and Journal of Comparative Neurology. His research focused on the neural control of vertebrate motor systems and behavior.  

Dr. Beck holds a BS from Duke University and a PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle. He completed his postdoctoral training at the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Beck frequently comments in the media about the implications of the latest Parkinson's science headlines.

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For all of our Substantial Matters podcast episodes, visit parkinson.org/podcast.

For more insights on this topic, listen to our podcast episodes "PDGENE: Genetic Counseling" and "Genetics and PD: What do we know so far?"

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