PDF Contributing Author:

James Beck, Ph.D., Vice President, Scientific Affairs


James Beck, Ph.D., is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Dr. Beck has led PDF's scientific affairs since he joined the organization in 2008. In this role, he oversees PDF’s research grants programs, including management of programs that support research centers, individual investigators, fellows and collaborative projects. View Dr. Beck's full biography on the PDF website at www.pdf.org/bio_beck.

Articles by this Author:

The Nobel Prize and PD Research: What It Means

PDF is excited to tell you that this week’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Medicine – awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi, Ph.D., of the Tokyo Institute of Technology – has intriguing implications for Parkinson’s research. Dr. Ohsumi received the Nobel Prize for his work to understand autophagy – the way our body’s cells recycle and dispose of waste to stay healthy. About 15 years ago, a PDF-funded research team recognized the importance of Dr. Ohsumi’s groundbreaking discoveries and applied them to Parkinson’s. Since then and continuing today, PDF scientists have been unraveling the role autophagy plays in Parkinson’s. Dr. Ohsumi’s work was… read more Read More

Et Tu Nilotinib?: Understanding Headlines about an Anti-Cancer Drug for PD

The Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, which took place last week in Chicago, IL, is a place where the latest preliminary data in neuroscience is presented. True to form, there was an interesting abstract presented by Fernando Pagan, M.D. and colleagues from Georgetown University Hospital which suggested a potential treatment for those with Parkinson’s disease (PD). At the heart of the presentation, Dr. Pagan and colleagues reported that in a small trial, an anti-cancer drug called nilotinib was able to reverse both the movement symptoms and cognitive decline of people with PD involved in the study.

The Many Lives of Levodopa

The start of 2015 has been noteworthy for those with Parkinson’s disease (PD) as two new therapies  – Rytary™ and Duopa™ – were approved by the FDA at the start of January. Both therapies are updates to the gold-standard treatment of carbidopa/levodopa for those with PD. Manufacturers of both therapies hope to have the medications available on pharmacy shelves in the next few months. Yes, carbidopa/levodopa first came into use around 1970. However, these new therapies address a real need that current carbidopa/levodopa or Sinemet cannot meet … and that is good news. PDF has covered what Rytary and Duopa are (check out my… read more Read More

What’s In a Number? PDF Parkinson’s Prevalence Project

The recent ice bucket challenge that has raised awareness and funds for ALS has been a huge success. What may have been overshadowed by this success is the reporting of the first solid estimate of how many people in the United States live with ALS – 12,187. It may seem like a small number but it helps many – from families to policy makers – understand what we are up against in solving that disease. While the estimates of people living with Parkinson’s disease are much larger than for those with ALS, the fact of the matter is that our community does not exactly know the… read more Read More

Creativity and the Parkinson’s Mind

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation has long recognized the creative abilities that many people with Parkinson’s disease acquire when living with the disease. We even capture many of these expressions on our website with some of the best examples appearing in our acclaimed annual calendar (which you can now pre-order for 2015 here).

Northera Approved by FDA

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appeared to be ready to approve a new drug for neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (NOH), which, basically, is a precipitous drop in blood pressure upon standing. (I recommend reading that blog as a good primer.) That drug, droxidopa with the brand name of Northera™, did not win approval because of outstanding concerns by FDA. Fast-forward to this week, and FDA has now signaled that it will approve droxidopa for the treatment of NOH.