James Beck, PhD

James Beck, Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer
Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer

James Beck, PhD

As Chief Scientific Officer, James Beck, PhD, sets the strategic direction for the Parkinson’s Foundation research vision. Dr. Beck oversees a portfolio that has guided more than $400 million in research to explore what causes Parkinson’s disease (PD) and how to improve treatments, working towards a world without Parkinson’s disease. He has played an integral role in positioning the organization as a world leader in accelerating Parkinson’s research.

Dr. Beck launched PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson's Disease, a national study started by the Parkinson’s Foundation in 2019 that offers genetic testing for Parkinson’s-related genes and genetic counseling at no cost for participants with a confirmed PD diagnosis. Additionally, he led the team that updated the estimated prevalence of PD in the U.S. and globally and collaborated with several organizations to develop the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Beck, John Lehr and Christiana Evers at Georgia Senator Johny Isakson's office

During his tenure at the Foundation, he has greatly increased the organization’s impact in the PD community by:

  • Doubling the number of applicants for the research grants program
  • Including people with Parkinson’s in the grant application review cycle, creating the first community-responsive grant process in PD
  • Becoming the first PD organization with an open-access policy, encouraging broad data sharing including access to published Foundation-funded research to accelerate our understanding of PD
  • Launching npj Parkinson’s Disease, an international open-access journal devoted to publishing the most important scientific advances in Parkinson's research
  • Managing the Parkinson’s Outcome Project, the largest clinical study of PD, and sub-studies focused on priority populations
  • Acting as co-chair of Parkinson's Disease Gene Curation Expert Panel, the first ClinGen working group for neurodegenerative diseases in adults
Dr. Beck at the Parkinson's Foundation Centers of Excellence Leadership Conference

Dr. Beck has been published in multiple leading journals including npj Parkinson’s Disease, Movement Disorders, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, Annals of Clinical & Translational Neurology and more. He is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at the New York University School of Medicine. He holds a BS from Duke University and a PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle.


In The News

In The News

Many people with Parkinson's are not getting the care they need

Medical News Today
July 11, 2023
A new study on Parkinson's disease care in the U.S. reveals critical gaps and disparities, particularly affecting women, people of color and rural residents. The Parkinson's Foundation estimates that the number of PD cases in the U.S. will rise, while the current shortage of specialists poses challenges in seeking care. James Beck, PhD, SVP and chief scientific officer for the Parkinson's Foundation, is interviewed.

In The News

Why nearly half of Americans with Parkinson’s don’t see a neurologist

July 10, 2023
A study on Parkinson's disease reveals significant gaps in care and disparities faced by patients. In 2019, 40% of Medicare beneficiaries living with PD didn’t see a neurologist for their disease. This article follows the story of Richard Huckabee, who experienced PD symptoms for nine years before receiving a diagnosis. Parkinson’s Foundation SVP and Chief Scientific Officer James Beck, PhD, is interviewed.

In The News

Dad diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 45 shares ‘shocking’ first symptoms

April 19, 2023
When Vikas Chinnan, 46, began experiencing stiffness on his right side, he thought it was related to a viral infection he had in his spine as a child. After numerous tests and treatments failed to help, doctors began investigating other potential illnesses, and he was ultimately diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD). Read on for Chinnan’s story of diagnosis and the impact of “invisible symptoms.” James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer for the Parkinson’s Foundation, provides expert insight on YOPD.

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