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Date:August 22, 2012

Donald W. (Will) Parsons, M.D., Ph.D.

Donald "Will" Parsons, M.D., Ph.D.Co-Director, Brain Tumor Program

Co-Director, Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program

Director, Pediatric Center for Personal Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics

Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Section of Hematology-Oncology
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Will Parsons
1102 Bates Street, Suite 1030.15
Houston, TX 77030

Phone: 832-824-4643
Fax: 832-825-4038
Email: dwparson@txch.org

Biography

Dr. Donald Williams (Will) Parsons, is an assistant professor of pediatrics – hematology/oncology at Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. He is a board-certified pediatric hematologist-oncologist specializing in the care of children with brain and spinal cord tumors.

His research program focuses on the development of genomic sequencing methods to identify and evaluate cancer-causing mutations in pediatric tumors, with a goal of rapidly identifying genetic alterations which may serve as targets for new diagnostic tests and treatments. His work has resulted in the identification of numerous mutated genes and genetic pathways that contribute to tumor initiation and progression, providing a novel view of the genetic landscape of human cancers.

After graduating from Princeton University in 1992 with a degree in Chemistry, Dr. Will Parsons obtained his Ph.D. (Pathology) and M.D. degrees from The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He conducted his residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins and a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology as part of the combined Johns Hopkins/National Cancer Institute program. He served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins for one year prior to coming to Baylor College of Medicine in 2008.

Parsons has published more than 25 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature, and the New England Journal of Medicine. He has been awarded numerous honors for his research, including the Peter A. Steck Memorial Award for Brain Tumor Research (2009). Parsons is a Graham Cancer Research Scholar at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and has received funding from multiple sources to support his work on the genetic causes of pediatric cancers, including the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, the National Cancer Institute, the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation, the American Brain Tumor Association, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Sidney Kimmel Foundation. He is actively involved in a number of national organizations, and currently serves on the CNS Disease Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group and as the Co-Chair of the Biology Committee of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

Dr. Parsons is a Co-Director of the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program, and a member of the Brain Tumor Program and Liver Tumor Program research laboratories.

Education

M.D., The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Ph.D., Department of Pathology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Residency, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Fellowship, Johns Hopkins Hospital and National Cancer Institute

Board Certifications

American Board of Pediatrics
American Board of Pediatrics – Hematology/Oncology

Selected Memberships

Member, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
Member, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Member, American Society for Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO)
Member, Society of Neuro-Oncology

Clinical Interests

Brain Tumors
Liver Tumors
Spinal Cord Tumors

Research Interests

Genomic sequencing methods to identify and evaluate cancer-causing mutations in pediatric tumors

Research

The focus of Dr. Donald (Will) Parsons’ research has been the development of large-scale (genomic) methods to identify and evaluate cancer-causing mutations in human tumors, with a goal of rapidly identifying genetic alterations which may serve as targets for new diagnostic tests and treatments. His work has resulted in the identification of numerous mutated genes and genetic pathways that contribute to tumor initiation and progression, providing a novel view of the genetic landscape of human cancers.

For example, an analysis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most lethal brain tumor of both adults and children, for the first time identified mutation of the isocitrate dehydrogenase genes (IDH1 and IDH2) as a common and critical event in the development of gliomas. This discovery has opened a novel and potentially clinically-useful area of brain tumor research: further work evaluating the functional relation of these mutations to glioma development and the applicability of this finding for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes is ongoing.

Dr. Will Parsons is currently engaged in similar genomic analyses of several other pediatric solid tumors, with a focus on pediatric central nervous system cancers, his area of clinical interest.

Dr. Parsons is a member of the of the Cancer Genomics and Genomics, the Brain Tumor, and Liver Tumor research laboratories.