Date:August 22, 2012

Donald W. (Will) Parsons, MD, PhD

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

Associate 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

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

Dr. Donald Williams (Will) Parsons has distinguished himself as one of the country’s leaders in the genomics of childhood cancer, as well as a leader in pediatric neuro-oncology. Dr. Will Parsons is an associate 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.

Dr. Parsons’ research focuses on the clinical application of genomic technologies in pediatric cancer care. He is the co-PI of the ongoing BASIC3 (Baylor Advancing Sequencing in Childhood Cancer Care) study, a NHGRI Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research project investigating the utility of tumor and germline whole exome sequencing for children with newly-diagnosed CNS and non-CNS solid tumors. Preliminary results of the BASIC3 study have been presented at numerous national and international scientific meetings, including ASHG 2013, AACR Pediatric Cancer 2013, AACR 2014 and ASCO 2014. His work has been instrumental in the characterization of the genetic landscapes of a variety of pediatric and adult cancers, including the identification of IDH1 and IDH2 as critical genes in gliomas and MLL2 and MLL3 in medulloblastomas. Dr. Parsons is currently engaged in genomic analyses of numerous pediatric cancers, including central nervous system tumors, sarcomas, and histiocytic disorders.

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 40 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, including: Science, Nature, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 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 (CPRIT), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NGRI), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation, the American Brain Tumor Association, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Sidney Kimmel Foundation, and the Sontag 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 Consortium (PBTC).

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


M.D., Ohio State University College of Medicine
Ph.D., Department of Pathology, 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

Clinical application of genomic technologies in pediatric cancer care; identification and characterization of cancer-causing mutations in pediatric tumors

Selected Publications

Parsons DW, Jones S et al. An integrated genomic analysis of human glioblastoma multiforme. Science 2008; 321: 1807-12. PubMed PMID: 18772396.

Yan H, Parsons DW et al. IDH1 and IDH2 mutations in gliomas. New Eng J Med 2009; 360: 765-73. PubMed PMID: 19228619.

Parsons DW, Li M, Zhang X et al. The Genetic Landscape of the Childhood Cancer Medulloblastoma. Science 2011; 331(6016):435-9. PubMed PMID: 21163964.

Parsons DW, Roy A, Plon SE et al. Clinical tumor sequencing: An incidental casualty of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics recommendations for reporting of incidental findings. J Clin Oncol 2014; Jun 23. [Epub] PubMed PMID: 24958819.

Chakraborty R, Hampton OA, Shen X et al. Mutually exclusive recurrent somatic mutations in MAP2K1 and BRAF support a central role for ERK activation in LCH pathogenesis. Blood 2014 Sep 8. pii: blood-2014-05-577825. [Epub] PubMed PMID: 25202140.

Scollon S, Bergstrom K, Kerstein RA et al. Obtaining informed consent for clinical tumor and germline exome sequencing of newly diagnosed childhood cancer patients. Genome Med 2014; in press.


The Research Laboratory of Donald W. (Will) Parsons, M.D., Ph.D.

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