Colin R. Parrish, PhD

Colin Parrish, PhD

Baker Institute for Animal Health

John M. Olin Professor of Virology

Baker Institute for Animal Health

Baker Institute for Animal Health
235 Hungerford Hill Road
Ithaca, NY 14853

Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
C5 171 Veterinary Medical Center
Ithaca, NY 14853

Office: 607.256.5610
Fax: 607.256.5608

Research Interest

The emergence of new viral diseases in dogs

The Parrish laboratory has been studying viruses that have emerged in dogs to cause new diseases, which include several important viruses of dogs, cats, and wildlife. Together with his team, Parrish is showing in detail how those viruses jumped into and spread between dogs and how they sometimes infect other animals – including cats and wild species such as raccoons and foxes. They are also revealing more details about how those viruses infect and spread between dogs, as well cause disease in the other animals they infect.

  • Canine influenza viruses: emergence and spread. There are currently two influenza viruses circulating in dogs in the USA – called H3N8 and H3N2 - and the Parrish laboratory is studying both of those. The most recent virus became an urgent concern for dog owners in the United States when a large outbreak of respiratory disease caused by the H3N2 strain of canine influenza virus began in the Chicago area in early 2015. Veterinarians turned to the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and to the Baker Institute for answers about that virus. Parrish and his team have been studying the virus responsible for the epidemic and are now pinpointing its relationship to influenza viruses infecting dogs elsewhere in the world, and also to influenza viruses that infect other animals, including humans. They have determined that the virus, which has since spread to dogs in dozens of states in the USA, originated from Korea, where the virus has been spreading among dogs for many years.
  • Investigating ways to stop canine influenza. Parrish and his colleagues are working with a team of experts from all over the country to compare the genetic signatures of both the H3N2 and H3N8 canine influenza viruses from regional outbreaks to track the spread of the disease, with the aim of determining new ways of controlling the viruses and eventually eradicating those viruses from dogs. The laboratory is also studying the biology of the canine influenza viruses to identify the properties that allowed them to be successful in dogs.
  • How parvovirus can pass from species to species. The Parrish laboratory is also continuing work on canine parvovirus, which first emerged in the late 1970s as a brand new disease in dogs. Since then the virus is passed between dogs and also frequently transfers to a variety of wild animals, including raccoons, foxes, and skunks. Parrish and his colleagues have studied the complex particle structure that forms the outside of the virus and found that key changes in the outside of the virus alter the ways in which the viruses interact with cells, and also have shown that mutations can arise that alter the virus’ ability to infect those different species.



Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
- Veterinary Virology
- Ph.D.


Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
- Microbiology
- B.Sc. (1st Class Honors)


Auckland Technical Institute, Auckland, New Zealand
- Microbiology and Biochemistry
- New Zealand Certificate of Science

Biography/Professional Experience

  • John M. Olin Professor of Virology 2005 - present
  • Director, Baker Institute for Animal Health and Feline Health Center 2010 - 2016
  • Professor 2002 - 2005
  • Associate Professor 1994 - 2002
  • Assistant Professor 1988 - 1994
    Baker Institute for Animal Health
    Department of Microbiology and Immunology
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  • Research Officer 1986 - 1988
    Department of Microbiology
    Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  • Research Assistant Professor (non-tenure track) 1984 - 1986
    James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health
    Department of Microbiology and Immunology
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  • Graduate Research Assistant 1980 - 1984
    James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health
    Department of Microbiology and Immunology
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  • Scientist 1979 - 1980
    Virology Section
    Animal Health Reference Laboratory
    New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
    Upper Hutt, New Zealand
  • Technician 1973 - 1975
    Plant Diseases Division
    Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
    Auckland, New Zealand

Selected Publications

Links and abstracts for all of Dr. Parrish's publications can be found at PubMed.

  1. Wasik, BR; Barnard, KN; Parrish, CR. (2016). Effects of Sialic Acid Modifications on Virus Binding and Infection. Trends in Microbiology, 24(12), 991-1001.
  2. Feng, KH; Sun, M; Iketani, S; Holmes, EC; Parrish, CR. (2016). Comparing the functions of equine and canine influenza H3N8 virus PA-X proteins: Suppression of reporter gene expression and modulation of global host gene expression. Virology, 496, 138-46.
  3. Lee, DW; Allison, AB; Bacon, KB; Parrish, CR; Daniel, S. (2016). Single-Particle Tracking Shows that a Point Mutation in the Carnivore Parvovirus Capsid Switches Binding between Host-Specific Transferrin Receptors. Journal of Virology, 90(9), 4849-53.
  4. Kailasan, S; Agbandje-McKenna, M; Parrish, CR. (2015). Parvovirus Family Conundrum: What Makes a Killer? Annual Review of Virology, 2, 425-50.
  5. Allison, AB; Organtini, LJ; Zhang, S; Hafenstein, SL; Holmes, EC; Parrish, CR. (2015). Single Mutations in the VP2 300 Loop Region of the Three-Fold Spike of the Carnivore Parvovirus Capsid Can Determine Host Range. Journal of Virology, 90(2), 753-67.
  6. Feng, KH; Gonzalez, G; Deng, L; Yu, H; Tse, VL; Huang, L; Huang, K; Wasik, BR; Zhou, B; Wentworth, DE; Holmes, EC; Chen, X; Varki, A; Murcia, PR; Parrish, CR. (2015). Equine and Canine Influenza H3N8 Viruses Show Minimal Biological Differences Despite Phylogenetic Divergence. Journal of Virology, 89(13), 6860-73.
  7. Parrish, CR; Murcia, PR; Holmes, EC. (2015). Influenza Virus Reservoirs and Intermediate Hosts: Dogs, Horses, and New Possibilities for Influenza Virus Exposure of humans. Journal of Virology, 89(6), 2990-94.

Awards and Honors

  • Senior Fulbright Fellowship, University of Glasgow Visiting Professor. University of Glasgow, UK, 2016-2017.
  • Councilor for Virus Ecology and Evolution, American Society for Virology, 2014 – 2017.
  • John M. Olin Professor of Virology, 2005.
  • Councilor for Veterinary Virology, American Society for Virology, 2004 – 2007.
  • Chair, sessions at International Parvovirus Meetings, 1991, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014.
  • Chair, Parvovirus workshop, American Society for Virology, 19th Annual Meeting, July 1998.
  • Chair, Session on “Parvovirus Structure”, 6th International Parvovirus Workshop, Montpellier, France, September 1995.
  • SmithKline Beecham Award for Research Excellence, 1992.
  • Chair, Parvovirus workshop, American Society for Virology, 10th Annual Meeting, July 1992.
  • Carlsberg Foundation Travel Award, 4th International Parvovirus Workshop, 1991.
  • American Kennel Club Postdoctoral Fellowships, 1984, 1985 and 1986.
  • Fulbright Travel Award, 1980.
  • F. W. W. Rhodes Memorial Scholarship, 1980 – 1983.
  • New Zealand University Grants Council Postgraduate Scholarships, 1979, 1980.
  • Massey University Postgraduate Scholarship, 1979.
  • Science Technician Association Prize (New Zealand), 1976.
  • New Zealand Association of Scientists Award, 1976.

Professional/Academic Affiliations

Scientific Societies

  • American Society for Microbiology
  • Society for General Microbiology
  • American Society for Virology