Episode 33: The Parkinson’s Prevalence Project

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The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism has been on the rise since the 1970’s, but a true estimate of how many people are affected had been difficult to ascertain because of how we collected the early data. It is important to know the prevalence of the disease in order to allocate health care resources, including health care professional training as well as money for research into the conditions of PD. The Parkinson’s Foundation has taken a leading role in determining the prevalence of PD and related conditions in the North American population through the Parkinson’s Prevalence Project.

James Beck, vice president for scientific affairs and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, says he believes the number of people living with Parkinson’s in the United States has been dramatically underestimated and does not represent the ethnic diversity of people affected due to the way in which we gathered older data. He explains how the Parkinson’s Prevalence Project is designed to give a clearer picture of PD in North America.

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About This Episode

Released: July 17, 2018

James Beck, PhD

James Beck, PhD, is the Parkinson's Foundation Chief Scientific Officer and has led the scientific affairs of the 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 B.S. from Duke University and a Ph.D. 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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