Improving Parkinson Disease Screening: James Beck, PhD


The chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation discussed the “PD GENEration” study that offers genetic testing and counseling to 15,000 people with Parkinson disease.

“The more people we're able to make aware of genetics in Parkinson's disease and clinical outcomes, I think, the better off we'll be as a community, making new discoveries that we hadn't appreciated before concerning clinical outcomes, and being able to empower people with Parkinson's.”

A recent survey conducted by the Parkinson’s Foundation in conjunction with the Movement Disorders Division of the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center investigated telehealth use in people with Parkinson disease (PD) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results suggested that disparities exist between income and education levels in people with PD.

The survey is one of multiple studies being conducted in PD by the Parkinson’s Foundation. James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation and adjunct associate professor, department of neuroscience and physiology, New York University School of Medicine, spoke with NeurologyLive about another such studiy, the PD GENEration study, which is currently underway that aims to improve care of people with PD through genetic testing.

Beck discussed how the study can help clarify genotypes of people with PD and facilitate clinical trials for targeted therapies in PD. He stressed that while only about 10% to 15% of people will have a genetic mutation leading to their PD diagnosis, the potential for use of precision medicine in that population is high.

Feeney MP, Xu Y, Surface M, et al. The impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on people with Parkinson’s disease: a survey study. NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2021;7(1):10. doi: 10.1038/s41531-020-00153-8
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