June 6, 2016
Colin Parrish has become a world-renowned expert in animal virology since he first came to Cornell University in 1978, and now he’ll be sharing his knowledge and ideas beyond Cornell later this year thanks to a prestigious scholarship. As a graduate student at the Baker Institute for Animal Health in the early 1980s, Parrish helped develop the first vaccines for canine parvovirus and as a faculty member he has since continued with a long history of inquiry and discovery. Today Parrish is the Cornell Feline Health Center and Baker Institute director and John M. Olin Professor of Virology, and he investigates the viruses behind global pandemics and the ways in which diseases spread between different animals and to humans. He has been selected for an award from the Fulbright Scholar Program, giving him the opportunity to share his expertise abroad as a Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow.
Founded in 1946 by legislation signed by President Harry Truman, the Fulbright Scholar Program “aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries”. This international educational exchange program, which is run by the U.S. State Department, places scholars, students, and professionals in educational institutions in 155 countries around the world.
Starting in September 2016, Parrish will spend six months at the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow, collaborating with several other scientists on projects ranging from surveys of viruses in wild animals from Asia and Africa to studies of ancient parvoviruses who persist as genetic fossils in the genomes of modern animals. Emerging viruses like H1N1 pandemic influenza, Ebola virus, and Zika virus pose significant threats to human and animal health, and Parrish’s work here at Cornell and in the United Kingdom seeks a greater understanding of how viral pandemics emerge and how they might be halted or controlled.
College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Lorin Warnick says the college is proud of Parrish’s accomplishment. “Sharing our faculty with other prestigious institutions around the world pays dividends in improved relationships with these universities and enhanced research and training programs here at home,” says Warnick.
“I was very excited to be selected for a Fulbright award,” says Parrish. In addition to his research projects, Parrish been invited to give talks and make visits to virology groups at other universities across Europe during his time away from Ithaca. “I’m hoping to make connections between Cornell and the University of Glasgow as well as several other institutions,” he says.
Parrish will step down as Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center and Baker Institute for Animal Health this summer. The new Director, Luis Schang of the University of Alberta in Canada, takes on these roles on August 1.
“This is a great accomplishment as Dr. Parrish completes his term as Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center and Baker Institute,” says Warnick.