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:

Genetic Testing: FDA & The Importance of Getting it Right

Several months ago, I broached the issue of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in PD. There, my message was that you should look before you leap and take the time to understand what genetic testing would tell you (and whether you really wanted to know it). Implicit in that discussion is the need to have accurate results. This is different than the desire to have the weather forecaster tell you if it is going to rain or not tomorrow. For most people, inaccurate weather predictions are a nuisance more than anything.

Old Drugs – New Cures?

From James Beck, Ph.D., Vice President of Research Programs Using old drugs as new cures seems like a surefire winner. It may be. However, after attending a recent meeting outside London hosted by the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, a small yet impactful British charity, it is clear that this path is neither clear nor easy. A committee of experts at the meeting evaluated and prioritized dozens of existing compounds – many are drugs used to treat other diseases – based upon their potential to stop Parkinson’s disease.

BigBrain – What Does It Mean?

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs This blog is part two in a series of three about the BigBrain. Several weeks ago saw the announcement of a description of a new and highly detailed atlas of the brain, called BigBrain.  PDF wrote about how one person, making the decision to donate their brain, has made a significant contribution to science.  Indeed, that is true.  But what does this really mean for the future of neuroscience … and Parkinson’s research?

Of Patents and Parkinson’s

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs Should or could a human gene be patented? On June 13th, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered their unanimous ruling regarding what has been called the Myraid Genetics case.  The plaintiffs in this case sought to invalidate Myriad’s patent on two genes that when mutated can lead to a significant increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Because of the patent for these two genes, Myriad, a clinical diagnostic testing company, was the only entity that was permitted to perform the clinical tests that can both inform women if they… read more Read More

Vitamin D…Again?

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs A recent paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and picked up by the popular press provided some provocative evidence that vitamin D may provide a short term benefit to some people living with Parkinson’s disease.  PDF has covered the science regarding vitamin D for some time, for example in articles featured here and here. While the importance of vitamin D in people with PD is not new—most people with PD have too low a level—this paper now suggests that only some individuals may benefit from raising vitamin D levels…. read more Read More