Management Team

J. William Langston, M.D.- Founder, CEO, Chief Scientific Officer and Board

Dr. J. William Langston is the Scientific Director, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California.  A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, he served as faculty member at Stanford University Medical School and Chairman of Neurology at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California before founding the Parkinson’s Institute.  Dr. Langston gained national and international recognition in 1980s for the discovery of the link between a tainted “synthetic heroin” and parkinsonism.  The bad batch of heroin proved to contain a substance known as MPTP, which is selectively toxic to the same nerve cells in the brain that die in Parkinson’s disease.  The discovery of the biologic effects of this compound led to a renaissance of the basic and clinical research in Parkinson’s disease.

He authored or co-authored 360 publications in the field of neurology, most of which are on Parkinson’s disease and related disorders.  Dr. Langston’s current research interests include the study of mechanisms of neuronal degeneration, the etiology of Parkinson’s disease, the development of new strategies to slow or halt disease progression, and ways to identify the disease in its earliest “pre-motor” stages.  He has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Award from Modern Medicine, the Sarah M. Poiley Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the James Parkinson 30th Anniversary Award from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Distinguished Clinical Investigator Award from Roche Pharmaceuticals, and Movement Disorders Research Award from the American Academy of Neurology.  He is the founding member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which he continues to serve on.

Dr. Langston’s work has been featured in both print and broadcast media including major network newscasts, the BBC Evening News, Prime Time Live, 20/20, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and the McNeil-Lehrer Report.  His work has been profiled in both Time and Newsweek and has been the subject of two NOVA programs on PBS:  “The Case of the Frozen Addicts” and “Brain Transplants”.  He published a book, which is also titled “The Case of the Frozen Addicts” as well as editing numerous scientific texts.  Dr. Langston and his work were profiled on the 2009 PBS Frontline “Special Report on Parkinson’s: My Father, My Brother, and Me”.

Melanie M. Brandabur, M.D., MDS- Clinic Director

Dr. Brandabur is a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease and other Movement Disorders. She completed a clinical fellowship in Movement Disorders and a basic science fellowship in Neurodegenerative diseases, both at Rush University in Chicago. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Brandabur served as the medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence, Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center. She held the position of Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducted a PD clinic as part of her outreach effort to underserved communities. She frequently lectures to physicians, nurses, social workers and other professionals as well as to community groups and people affected by PD. Dr. Brandabur serves as a PI in clinical trials and has specific interest in research that includes speech and gesture disorders.

Grace Liang, M.D.- Clinical Trials Director

Dr. Liang earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University. She received her medical degree from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. She completed her internship in internal medicine and residency in neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During her Clinical Research Fellowship at the Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders Center at the Penn Neurological Institute and Veterans Affairs (VA) Parkinson’s Disease, Research, Education and Clinical Centers (PADRECC), she was actively involved in patient care and clinical research for Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders. She has published articles on her research in neurogenetics and new therapies such as surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders.

Dr. Liang joined The Parkinson’s Institute in 2005 as a Movement Disorders Specialist. She is focused on the development of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders and is actively involved in clinical research programs at the Institute.

Caroline M. Tanner, M.D., Ph.D.- Clinical Research Director

Dr. Tanner earned her medical degree at Loyola University (1976) and completed a residency in Neurology and fellowship in Clinical Neuropharmacology and Movement Disorders at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, where she was an Associate Professor of Neurological Sciences until joining the Institute in 1990. She was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Toxicology & Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. During her 24-year long medical career, Dr. Tanner has published two textbooks and a videotext, authored and co-authored over 150 articles and research papers on the topics of treatment, natural history, epidemiology, and etiology of various movement disorders.

James W. Tetrud, M.D.- Clinic Medical Director

Dr. Tetrud is a graduate of NYU school of Medicine, trained in neurology at UCLA and Wadsworth VA Medical Centers, and completed a fellowship in movement disorders at Stanford Medical Center. He is one of the Institute’s senior clinicians, was involved in the original description of MPTP-induced parkinsonism with Dr. Langston and has since been an investigator in a number of clinical drug trials and has a special interest in quantification of neurological function, particularly tremor, dyskinesias and gait. Not only is Dr.Tetrud a nationally recognized physician but he is also a renowned scientist with research involving numerous clinical trials.

Chelsea E.M. Kasai- Director of Development, Marketing, and Communications

675 Almanor Avenue | Sunnyvale, CA 94085
408.734.2800 main | 408.734.8455 fax (Main) | 408.734.9208 fax (Clinic Secure)