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Parker honored as the 2007 recipient of the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence

FOR RELEASE: December 4, 2007

ITHACA, N.Y. John S. Parker, BVMS, PhD, at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, received the 2007 "Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence." The award has been provided to schools of veterinary medicine since 1985, promoting the accomplishments and research productivity of faculty in their early stages of their career.

Dr. Parker joined the faculty at the Baker Institute for Animal Health in 2003 as an Assistant Professor of Virology. His primary research program focuses on two aspects of reovirus biology and pathology. He is studying how the double stranded RNA reoviruses replicate and assemble within the cytoplasm of infected cells. Cells infected with reoviruses have large inclusions within their cytoplasm. These inclusions, or 'viral factories,' are the sites of new viral particle assembly and transcription of the viral genome. Parker has done seminal work to elucidate how viral factories assemble and interact with the cytoskeleton of infected cells. In addition, he has identified two viral proteins that are sufficient to form the matrix or infrastructure of the factories. With funding from the NIH, his laboratory is now extending this work in an attempt to unravel how these structures function during viral replication and assembly and what effects they have on cellular physiology.

In his second project on reoviruses, Dr. Parker is investigating how the virus induces apoptosis in infected cells. This is a very important question, both as it relates to viral pathogenesis, and through its potential application in cancer therapy. This project is supported by a Burroughs-Wellcome award. Dr. Parker was the first veterinarian to be named a Burroughs-Wellcome Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease under this prestigious program. He has also developed a second project, on feline calicivirus, that is funded by the Cornell Feline Health Center and the Winn Feline Foundation. Feline calicivirus is an important infectious disease of cats that is also a model for calicivirus infections in other species, including humans. This work focuses on understanding the interactions between FCV and its receptors, feline junctional adhesion molecule and ?2,6 sialic acid, and how virus-receptor interactions determine tropism and virulence.

An outstanding research team supports the laboratory, and includes graduate students, a DVM-PhD combined degree student, a post-doctoral fellow, and several undergraduates and veterinary students.

During his four years on the Cornell faculty, Dr. Parker has built a strong research group, obtained competitive grant funding from several sources, made important discoveries about reovirus replication and pathogenesis, and developed a new research project that directly affects animal health.

Dr. Parker will present his research findings at a College of Veterinary Medicine seminar and will be honored by Pfizer representatives, Sharon L Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Specialty Hospital Liaison, and Larry U. Pearson, D.V.M. Area Veterinarian, Eastern Great Lakes Region, U.S. Companion Animal Division.

Dr. Parker's Web site