The story of the Parkinson Tulip began in 1980 in the Netherlands when J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturalist, with Parkinson's disease (PD), developed a red and white tulip, which he named the 'Dr. James Parkinson' tulip, to honor Dr. James Parkinson, an English apothecary surgeon who originally described PD in 1812.

The tulip received the Award of Merit in 1981 from the Royal Horticultural Society in London England, and also received the Trial Garden Award from the Royal General Bulb Growers of Holland.

On April 11, 2005, the Red Tulip was launched as the Worldwide Symbol of Parkinson's disease at the 9th World Parkinson's disease Day Conference in Luxembourg. Variations of the red tulip are now used by many Parkinson's disease organizations worldwide.

The tulip design for the NINDS Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program captures the red and white tulip enfolded by leaves in the shape of hands that symbolize the overarching goal of the PDBP initiative in bringing together the PD community to build resources and develop technologies that will lead to PD biomarker discovery and innovation.