Associate Professor David Parsons

Associate Professor David Parsons
 Position Chief Medical Scientist
 Org Unit Paediatrics and Reproductive Health
 Telephone +61 8 8161 7004
 Location Floor/Room 6 ,  WCH - Gilbert Building ,   Womens & Childrens Hospital
  • Biography/ Background

    Trained in computing and neurosciences at the University of Melbourne, David's interests in respiratory physiology began when he joined the then Pulmonary Medicine Department at the Adelaide Children's Hospital (now the Women's and Children's Hospital) 24 years ago.

    Juggling laboratory clinical service management and the respiratory research roles, he has focused on developing a treatment or prevention for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) lung disease using gene therapies. He leads the team investigating airway gene transfer for CF, now based in the new Alan Scott CF research laboratory on the top floor of the Gilbert Building at the WCH.

    With major initial support from the USA CF Foundation and thereafter from the NH&MRC, his group has produced the first methods for long-lasting CF gene correction in CF mice, with successful translation of the gene transfer techniques he developed in laboratory mice into other animals.

    David has served on the Respiratory Panel of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, and has championed development of new synchrotron-based X-ray techniques. Recent success in this area have allowed the effects airway dosing and of various airway treatments to be followed in the tiny airways of live mice at very high resolution, to help improve the testing and assessment of airway surface physiology and health from new treatments.

    His goal is to be part of a team that develops an effective prevention or treatment for the progressing and early-fatal lung disease suffered by children born with CF.


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  • Qualifications

    • 1982: Ph.D. (Zoology: Neurophysiology), Melbourne University 
    • 1977: BSc Honours (Zoology, 1st Class Hons.), Melbourne University 
    • 1974: BSc (Information & Computer Science), Melbourne University

  • Awards & Achievements

    • 2006 Winner, Service Excellence Award, category: "Research, Teaching and Innovation", WCH, Child Youth and Women's Health Service, Adelaide
    • 2004 Winner, Service Excellence Award, category: "Quality Improvement /Health Promotion", Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
    • 2003 Recipient, Solvay Cystic Fibrosis Travelling Fellowship USA: Conference presentation and training at CF Center, University of North Carolina, USA
    • 1991 May Fotheringham Fellowship, Adelaide Children's Hospital, South Australia: (Study tour of North-American Cystic Fibrosis data registries)
    • 1985 Awarded National Science Research Fellowship for 1985 (not taken up) 
    • 1981 Margaret Catto Scholarship in Zoology, Melbourne University 
    • 1977 Commonwealth of Australia Postgraduate Research Award (977-1981)

  • Research Funding

    • 2012 NHMRC Development grant: From the synchrotron to the clinic: translation of a novel functional lung imaging technology, $859,797
    • 2012 Center for Stem Cell Research, Collaborative Grant: Discovering the role of resident airway stem / progenitor cells in production of lasting airway gene expression for CF, $64,000 
    • 2012 WCH Foundation Grant: Understanding the clearance of inhaled lead dust in the conducting airways using synchrotron imaging, $43,754
    • 2011 Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation: Optimized initial gene transfer for the lifetime correction of CF airway dysfunction, $60,000
    • 2011 Australian Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust: Localised detection of early stage CF disease via quantitative imaging of lung motion, $110,749
    • 2011 Australian Synchrotron International Synchrotron Access Program Travel Grant: Airway surface health and activity: Effects of hypertonic saline treatment on mucociliary transport and airway surface liquid depth in live airways, $9,200
    • 2011 Australian Synchrotron International Synchrotron Access Program Travel Grant: Non-invasive analysis of the distribution of fluid dosing in live mouse airways using synchrotron phase contrast X-ray imaging, $5,800
    • 2011 Women's and Children's Hospital Foundation: Inhibition of the tumour necrosis factor receptor - p38 MAP kinase signaling inflammation axis in cystic fibrosis, $49,251 
    • 2010 NHMRC Project Grant: Synchrotron x-ray assessment of airway surface physiology for cystic fibrosis, 2010 - 2012, $765,702
    • 2009 Women's and Children's Hospital Foundation: Dynamic synchrotron X-ray detection of individual pollutant particle behaviour after deposition onto live airways, $54,360
    • 2007 NHMRC Project Grant: Correction and measurement of the basic defects in cystic fibrosis, 2007 - 2009, $891,000
    • 2007 USA CF Foundation: Non-invasive measurement of airway surface changes with treatment, 2007 - 2009, $US87,000
    • 2005 Novita Children's Research Foundation: Gene delivery into lung airways for cystic fibrosis, 2005 - 2007, $84,000
    • 2005 USA CF Foundation: Does CFTR gene transfer correct CF airway pathophysiology? 2005 - 2007, $US125,000
    • 2004 NHMRC Project Grant: ‘Long lasting correction of the basic defect in cystic fibrosis', 2004 - 2006, $451,000
    • 2004 CF Australia Grant: Long lasting correction of the basic defect in cystic fibrosis, $20,000
    • 2001 USA CF Foundation: Improved adenoviral gene transfer, 2001 - 2003, $US148,000
    • 1999 USA CF Foundation: Barrier altering agents to enhance gene transfer, 1999 - 2001, $US92,000
    • 1998 Women's and Children's Hospital Foundation: Improving the efficiency of adenoviral gene transfer for cystic fibrosis airway disease, $35,000
    • 1997 CF Australia Grant: Gene therapy for CF airway disease - development and evaluation of a new vector, $26,000
    • 1997 USA CF Foundation: In-vivo drug delivery for CF mice, 1997 - 1999, $US62,000

  • Publications

    1. Morgan, K.S., Donnelley, M., Paganin, D.M., Fouras, A., Yagi, N., Suzuki, Y., Takeuchi, A., Uesugi, K., Boucher, R.C., Parsons, D.W. & Siu, K.K. Measuring airway surface liquid depth in ex vivo mouse airways by x-ray imaging for the assessment of cystic fibrosis airway therapies. PLoS One 8, e55822 (2013).
    2. Farrow, N., Miller, D., Cmielewski, P., Donnelley, M., Bright, R. & Parsons, D.W. Airway gene transfer in a non-human primate: Lentiviral gene expression in marmoset lungs. Scientific Reports 3, 1287 (2013).
    3. Donnelley, M., Morgan, K.S., Siu, K.K. & Parsons, D.W. Variability of In Vivo Fluid Dose Distribution in Mouse Airways Is Visualized by High-Speed Synchrotron X-Ray Imaging. Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery (2013).
    4. Morgan, K.S., Paganin, D.M., Parsons, D.W., Donnelley, M., Yagi, N., Uesugi, K., Suzuki, Y., Takeuchi, A. & Siu, K.K.W. Single Grating X-Ray Imaging For Dynamic Biological Systems. International Workshop on X-Ray and Neutron Phase Imaging with Gratings 1466, 124-129 (2012).
    5. Donnelley, M., Siu, K.K., Jamison, R.A. & Parsons, D.W. Synchrotron phase-contrast X-ray imaging reveals fluid dosing dynamics for gene transfer into mouse airways. Gene Therapy 19, 8-14 (2012).
    6. Donnelley, M., Morgan, K., Siu, K.K.W. & Parsons, D.W. Dry deposition of pollutant and marker particles onto live mouse airway surfaces enhances monitoring of individual particle mucociliary transit behaviour. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 19, 551-558 (2012).
    7. Liu, C., Wong, E., Miller, D., Smith, G., Anson, D. & Parsons, D. Lentiviral airway gene transfer in lungs of mice and sheep: successes and challenges. Journal of Gene Medicine 12, 647-658 (2010).
    8. Donnelley, M., Parsons, D., Morgan, K. & Siu, K. Animals In Synchrotrons: Overcoming Challenges For High-Resolution, Live, Small-Animal Imaging. 6th International Conference on Medical Applications of Synchrotron Radiation 1266, 30-34 (2010).
    9. Donnelley, M., Parsons, D., Morgan, K. & Siu, K. Animals In Synchrotrons: Overcoming Challenges For High-Resolution, Live, Small-Animal Imaging. AIP Proceedings 1266, 30-34 (2010).
    10. Donnelley, M., Morgan, K., Skinner, W., Suzuki, Y., Takeuchi, A., Uesugi, K., Yagi, N., Siu, K. & Parsons, D. A new technique to examine individual particle and fibre deposition and transit behaviour on live mouse trachea. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 17, 719-729 (2010).
    11. Cmielewski, P., Anson, D.S. & Parsons, D.W. Lysophosphatidylcholine as an adjuvant for lentiviral vector mediated gene transfer to airway epithelium: effect of acyl chain length. Respiratory Research 11, 84 (2010).
    12. Stocker, A.G., Kremer, K.L., Koldej, R., Miller, D.S., Anson, D.S. & Parsons, D.W. Single-dose lentiviral gene transfer for lifetime airway gene expression. Journal of Gene Medicine 11, 861-867 (2009).
    13. Morgan, K., Paganin, D., Parsons, D., Donnelley, M., Yagi, N., Uesugi, K., Suzuki, Y., Takeuchi, A. & Siu, K. Optimising Coherence Properties for Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging (PCXI) to Reveal Airway Surface Liquid (ASL) as an Airway Health Measure. IFMBE Proceedings, World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 25/II, 135-138 (2009).
    14. Donnelley, M., Morgan, K.S., Fouras, A., Skinner, W., Uesugi, K., Yagi, N., Siu, K.K.W. & Parsons, D.W. Real-time non-invasive detection of inhalable particulates delivered into live mouse airways. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 16, 553-561 (2009).
    15. Siu, K.K.W., Morgan, K.S., Paganin, D.M., Boucher, R., Uesugi, K., Yagi, N. & Parsons, D.W. Phase contrast X-ray imaging for the non-invasive detection of airway surfaces and lumen characteristics in mouse models of airway disease. European Journal of Radiology 68, S22-S26 (2008).
    16. Parsons, D.W., Morgan, K., Donnelley, M., Fouras, A., Crosbie, J., Williams, I., Boucher, R.C., Uesugi, K., Yagi, N. & Siu, K.K.W. High-resolution visualization of airspace structures in intact mice via synchrotron phase-contrast X-ray imaging (PCXI). Journal of Anatomy 213, 217-227 (2008).
    17. Kremer, K.L., Dunning, K.R., Parsons, D.W. & Anson, D.S. Gene delivery to airway epithelial cells in vivo: a direct comparison of apical and basolateral transduction strategies using pseudotyped lentivirus vectors. Journal of Gene Medicine 9, 362-368 (2007).
    18. Anson, D.S., Smith, G.J. & Parsons, D.W. Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis airway disease- is clinical success imminent? Current Gene Therapy 6, 161-179 (2006).
    19. Parsons, D.W. Airway gene therapy and cystic fibrosis. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 41, 94-96 (2005).
    20. Koldej, R., Cmielewski, P., Stocker, A., Parsons, D.W. & Anson, D.S. Optimisation of a multipartite human immunodeficiency virus based vector system; control of virus infectivity and large-scale production. Journal of Gene Medicine 7, 1390-1399 (2005).
    21. Kennedy, J.D., Blunden, S., Hirte, C., Parsons, D.W., Martin, A.J., Crowe, E., Williams, D., Pamula, Y. & Lushington, K. Reduced neurocognition in children who snore. Pediatric Pulmonology 37, 330-337 (2004).
    22. Parsons, D. The Fight to Save Andiamo. Cruising Helmsman, 23-27 (2003).
    23. Pontifex, E., Williams, M.T., Lunn, R. & Parsons, D. The effect of huffing and directed coughing on energy expenditure in young asymptomatic subjects. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 48, 209-213 (2002).
    24. Limberis, M., Anson, D.S., Fuller, M. & Parsons, D.W. Recovery of airway cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator function in mice with cystic fibrosis after single-dose lentivirus-mediated gene transfer. Human Gene Therapy 13, 1961-1970 (2002).
    25. Williams, M.T., Parsons, D.W., Frick, R.A., Ellis, E.R., Martin, A.J., Giles, S.E. & Grant, E.R. Acute respiratory infection in patients with cystic fibrosis with mild pulmonary impairment: comparison of two physiotherapy regimens. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 47, 227-236 (2001).
    26. Tarran, R., Grubb, B.R., Parsons, D., Picher, M., Hirsh, A.J., Davis, C.W. & Boucher, R.C. The CF salt controversy: In vivo observations and therapeutic approaches. Molecular Cell 8, 149-158 (2001).
    27. Master, V., Roberts, G.W., Coulthard, K.P., Baghurst, P.A., Martin, A., Roberts, M.E., Onishko, C.R., Martin, A.J., Linke, R.J., Holmes, M., Jarvinen, A., Kennedy, D., Colebatch, K.A., Hansman, D. & Parsons, D.W. Efficacy of once-daily tobramycin monotherapy for acute pulmonary exacerbations of cystic fibrosis: a preliminary study. Pediatric Pulmonology 31, 367-376 (2001).
    28. Parsons, D.W., Hopkins, P.J., Bourne, A.J., Boucher, R.C. & Martin, A.J. Airway gene transfer in mouse nasal-airways: importance of identification of epithelial type for assessment of gene transfer. Gene Therapy 7, 1810-1815 (2000).
    29. Parsons, D.W., Hopkins, P.J., Bourne, A.J., Boucher, R.C. & Martin, A.J. Airway gene transfer in mouse nasal-airways: importance of identification of epithelial type for assessment of gene transfer. Gene Therapy 7, 1810-1815 (2000).
    30. Lipsett, J., Cool, J.C., Runciman, S.I., Ford, W.D., Kennedy, J.D., Martin, A.J. & Parsons, D.W. Morphometric analysis of preterm fetal pulmonary development in the sheep model of congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Pediatric and Developmental Pathology 3, 17-28 (2000).
    31. Badcock, N.R., Parsons, D., Staugas, R.E., Aldis, J.J.E. & Couper, R.T.L. Vitamin E, peroxidative and non-peroxidative free radical damage markers, and sample collection timing in children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis. Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics 57, 79-83 (2000).
    32. Roberts, G.W., Master, V.V., Staugas, R.E., Raftos, J.V., Parsons, D.W., Coulthard, K.P. & Martin, A.J. Repeated dose inhaled budesonide versus placebo in the treatment of croup. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 35, 170-174 (1999).
    33. Holland, N., Williams, M., Parsons, D., Hall, B. & AJ, M. The effect of vigorous coughing on energy expenditure and pulmonary function in normal subjects. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 14, 55-61 (1998 ).
    34. Parsons, D.W., Grubb, B.R., Johnson, L.G. & Boucher, R.C. Enhanced in vivo airway gene transfer via transient modification of host barrier properties with a surface-active agent. Human Gene Therapy 9, 2661-2672 (1998).
    35. Parsons, D.W., Grubb, B.R., Johnson, L.G. & Boucher, R.C. Enhanced in vivo airway gene transfer via transient modification of host barrier properties with a surface-active agent. Human Gene Therapy 9, 2661-2672 (1998).
    36. Ford, W., Cool, J.C., Parsons, D., AJ, M., Kennedy, J., Lipsett, J., Byard, R.W. & Slater, A.J. Tracheal ligation in CDH: bigger may not be better. Pediatric Surgery International 13, 537-538 (1998).
    37. Parsons, D.W. & Williams, M. Patient-controlled sputum removal during chest physiotherapy in cystic fibrosis: a system for use in closed-circuit assessment of energy expenditure. Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 34, 494-497 (1996).
    38. Ford, W., Cool, J.C., Parsons, D., AJ, M., Kennedy, J., Lipsett, J., Byard, R.W. & Slater, A.J. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia: lung compliance after antenatal tracheal obstruction or surgical correction of the defect Pediatric Surgery International 11, 524-527 (1996).
    39. Boros, C.A., Parsons, D.W., Zoanetti, G.D., Ketteridge, D. & Kennedy, D. Cannabis cookies: a cause of coma. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 32, 194-195 (1996).
    40. Kennedy, J.D., Staples, A.J., Brook, P.D., Parsons, D.W., Sutherland, A.D., Martin, A.J., Stern, L.M. & Foster, B.K. Effect of spinal surgery on lung function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Thorax 50, 1173-1178 (1995).
    41. Parsons, D.W., Ford, W.D., Cool, J.C., Martin, A.J., Staugas, R.E. & Kennedy, J.D. Fetal lung compliance in premature and term lambs after two methods of in utero repair of diaphragmatic hernia. Thorax 49, 1015-1019 (1994).
    42. Ferrante, A., Martin, A.J., Bates, E.J., Kowanko, I.C., Harvey, D.P., Parsons, D., Rathjen, D.A., Russ, G. & Dayer, J.M. Interaction of Staphylococcus aureus with human neutrophils and the down-regulation of TNF receptors. Journal of Immunology 152, 3998-4004 (1994).
    43. Parsons, D., Carman, K., Moore, L., AJ, M., Staugas, R.E., Rathjen, D.A. & Ferrante, A. A peptide of tumour necrosis factor alpha may modulate chronic pseudomonal lung inflammation. American Review Respiratory Disease 147(4), A730 (1993).
    44. Ford, W.D., Martin, A.J., Cool, J.C., Parsons, D.W. & Kennedy, J.D. Intrathoracic silo for fetal diaphragmatic hernia: lung growth and slow reduction of abdominal viscera. Journal of Pediatric Surgery 28, 1006-1008 (1993).
    45. Ferrante, A., Martin, A.J., Bates, E.J., Goh, D.H.B., Harvey, D.P., Parsons, D., Rathjen, D.A., Russ, G. & Dayer, J.M. Killing of Staphylococcus-Aureus by Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha-Activated Neutrophils - the Role of Serum Opsonins, Integrin Receptors, Respiratory Burst, and Degranulation. Journal of Immunology 151, 4821-4828 (1993).

  • Professional Associations

    • Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
    • Australia and New Zealand Society for Respiratory Science
    • South Australian Medical Scientists Association
    • American Society of Gene Therapy 
    • Australian Gene Therapy Society


  • Community Engagement

    • 2013 Channel 9 News report: ‘Breathing Easier'- CF gene therapy
    • 2007 Conceived, researched, and organized production of a 4 and 8 minute DVD movie detailingthe Adelaide CF Gene therapy group's efforts to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis lung disease.
    • 2007 Channel 10 news report: CF gene therapy
    • 2006 ABC Radio 891: News interview re NH&MRC grant for 3 year CF gene therapy project. 
    • 2003 Behind the News: on screen segments for this ABC production, on CF gene therapy development. 
    • 2002 Adelaide Advertiser newspaper: Article and picture on CF gene therapy.

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Entry last updated: Monday, 18 Dec 2017

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