Six years ago, neurologist J. William Langston stumbled onto an exciting discovery, a contaminated synthetic heroin that seemed to trigger symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Almost overnight, Langston was thrust into the limelight. Reporters flocked to his office. Foundations invited him to apply for grants. His lab began reporting steady progress in the long struggle toward a cure for Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that affects half a million people in the United States.

But success brought problems as well as accolades. First Langston had to find space to carry out his research; then his initial round of grants ran out, and he began to worry about the precarious nature of his funding. So he took the bold step of striking out on his, own. He left the faculty of Stanford University, severed his ties with the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and, in April, started his own organization, the California Foundation...

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