James Beck, PhD: State of Genetic Testing in Parkinson Disease

November 26, 2020
James Beck, PhD

The chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation offers his side of the debate on whether genetic testing for patients with Parkinson disease is under-utilized.

"It’s still very difficult for a person with PD to go out and get genetic testing on their own. In fact, the genetic testing that we offer as part of PD GENEration is next to impossible to get by an individual.”

After recently receiving additional funding, the Parkinson’s Foundation’s initiative, PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease, will include a first-of-its-kind national study that will contribute to the biological understanding of Parkinson disease (PD) and help researchers assess the impact of genetic mutations with PD. On top of the research effort, the initiative draws attention to increasing the need for genetic testing, which has been inaccessible to most people to date.

James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer, Parkinson’s Foundation, believes there are a multitude of barriers that have hindered the increased use of genetic testing. One of which he claims is from third party payers and insurance companies, both of which have not been quick to reimburse for genetic testing because they feel as though it doesn’t influence treatment outcomes.

Beck and his colleagues at the Parkinson’s Foundation are looking to create that change and break down the barriers that infringe on patients with PD who are looking to learn more about their disease. He sat down to give his thoughts on whether genetic testing has been underutilized and why the comprehensive genetic testing offered from PD GENEration will be like none other.