"The generous support provided by The Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award has formed a critical foundation for my research program in clinical genomics and pursuit of improved care for children with brain tumors”

- Dr. Will Parsons
View CV

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Baylor College of Medicine (2015-present)
    • Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology (primary)
    • Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
    • Human Genome Sequencing Center
  • Director, Pediatric Center for Precision Oncology, Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers (TXCH) (2011-present)
  • Co-Director, Neuro-Oncology Program, TXCH (2012- present)
  • Co-Director, Cancer Genetics & Genomics Program, TXCH (2013-present)

About DSA-Funded Research

Identification of the genetic alterations underlying human cancers has enabled remarkable clinical advances for specific types of cancer. Information regarding the genetic basis of brain tumors in children would be particularly valuable, due to their poor prognosis and the significant harm caused by both the tumors and their treatment. Despite this fact, relatively little is known about the genetic events underlying the development of pediatric brain tumors, due in large part to their extensive diversity. Due to recent advances in sequencing and bioinformatics technologies, we now have a remarkable opportunity to rectify this situation. Our research program has focused on the use of high-throughput sequencing-based methods to identify and evaluate cancer-causing mutations in human tumors. In order to provide a comprehensive view of the genetic causes of pediatric brain cancer, we will now conduct an integrated sequence analysis of the group of less-common (but clinically important) pediatric brain tumors, for which few chemotherapeutic options exist. These data will be used to identify critical genes and pathways in the development of pediatric brain tumors, provide the framework for an improved molecular classification, and identify alterations of potential diagnostic and prognostic utility. In addition, tumor models will be developed for the tumors sequenced in order to allow functional characterization of candidate cancer genes and testing of potential therapeutics. This study has the potential to dramatically shift current research paradigms by directing investigators to the most relevant genes causing pediatric brain tumors and providing critical model systems for future brain tumor studies.

Accolades

"Will is a rising star who has taken the time to become proficient in both pediatric oncology and molecular genetics, a rarity given the complexity of both disciplines. I believe that continued investment in Will's career development would clearly serve to achieve the goals of your foundation."

Bert Vogelstein, M.D.
Ludwig Center; Johns Hopkins Medical Institute
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

"I can unequivocally state that Will Parsons is a rising super star. People with Will's scientific talent and superb character are very rare."

David G. Poplack, M.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
Director, Texas Children's Cancer Center

Publications

  • Lindsay H, Huang Y, Du Y, Braun FK, Teo WY, Kogiso M, Qi L, Zhang H, Zhao S, Mao H, Lin F, Baxter P, Su JM, Terashima K, Perlaky L, Chintagumpala M, Adesina A, Lau CC, Parsons DW, Li XN. Preservation of KIT genotype in a novel pair of patient-derived orthotopic xenograft mouse models of metastatic pediatric CNS germinoma. J Neurooncol. 2016 Mar 8. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26956263
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