James Beck, Ph.D.
Vice President, Scientific Affairs
James Beck, Ph.D., has led PDF's scientific affairs since he joined the organization in 2008. In this role, Dr. Beck oversees PDF’s research strategy and programs, including management of grants that support PDF research centers, individual investigators, fellows and collaborative projects.
As part of his goals to “fund ideas with the greatest potential to propel Parkinson’s research forward and improve lives as quickly as possible” he has:
- changed the parameters of investigator-initiated grants programs to provide additional funding and multi-year support to outstanding scientists who qualify;
- expanded funding for early-career investigators to ensure they have the means to pursue innovative ideas and dedicate their careers to helping PDF end Parkinson's (in part through the Stanley Fahn Junior Faculty Awards);
- established PDF Conference Awards, so scientists have funding to explore emerging issues in Parkinson’s therapy advancement; and
- instituted the inclusion of PDF Research Advocates in PDF's own scientific programs as key stakeholders in the review and decision process.
Dr. Beck is a member of the Forum on Regenerative Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences. He is also a member of the Udall Center Coordinating Committee, which annually brings together leaders of the nine medical centers around the US designated as Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research. These multi-disciplinary research centers are funded by the federal government with investments of $19 million annually.
Dr. Beck previously held the position of Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Long Island University. He remains an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience at New York University School of Medicine. In addition to teaching courses for undergraduate and medical school students, Dr. Beck was a recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has published in journals such as in the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal 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. Browse PDF news to see his commentary.