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

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.

In The News

The Future of Genetic Approaches, New Targets in Parkinson Disease: James Beck, PhD

March 9, 2023
Currently, there are several trials targeting specific genetic mutations of Parkinson’s disease, with the hope that one day, the field will see its first gene therapy. James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer for the Parkinson’s Foundation, discusses the progress made in PD treatments and the promise behind potential gene therapies in the coming years.

In The News

Parkinson’s Cases May Be 50% Higher Than Previously Thought: Why That’s Important to Know


There may be 90,000 Parkinson’s disease diagnoses in the U.S. every year instead of the previously estimated 60,000 annually. Researchers hope the new figures will lead to an increase in funding for research as well as a renewed focus on finding a cure. James Beck, PhD, co-author of the study and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, provides commentary.

In The News

A new algorithm could spot Parkinson’s early. Will it help?

Washington Post

Researchers from MIT have created an AI tool that can predict Parkinson’s in patients earlier than humans by analyzing a person’s breathing pattern. James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, provides commentary on the study, noting that this tool is simply one of many ways scientists are racing to better detect and track PD.

Videos Featuring Dr. Beck

Back to Top