Cornell virologist elected president of world’s foremost virology society

Colin Parrish, Ph.D. ’84, the John M. Olin Professor of Virology at the Baker Institute for Animal Health, part of the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, has been elected president of the American Society for Virology (ASV). Parrish will take office in July 2021 at the annual meeting and serve a three-year term, first as president-elect, then president, then past-president.

The ASV was founded in June 1981 with 500 virologists as charter members, and the first annual meeting was held at Cornell in 1982. The ASV has since grown to a membership of over 2,500 members, making it one of the largest virology societies in the world. Members are primarily from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with steady increases in international membership.

Colin Parrish, Ph.D. ’84, the John M. Olin Professor of Virology. Parrish will take office in July 2021.

The ASV is the premier society for virology in the world, and its mission is the “advancement and promulgation of knowledge relevant to virology.” It achieves this primarily through annual meetings held each summer. Attendance at the meetings varies from 1,200-1,500, with 900-1,100 abstracts submitted each year. The meetings include lectures by world leaders in virology and opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral trainees to give oral or poster presentations, providing an important opportunity to young scientists. The communication of virology information via the ASV annual meetings has helped to maintain America’s leading role in virology research. Parrish will organize the plenary program for the meeting in July 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin.

When asked about serving in this role, Parrish states, “I am honored to be nominated as president-elect ASV. In my term, I will seek to enhance the scope of the society’s activities, in addition to helping to coordinate the annual meeting. As someone who has been interested in viruses since I was a child, I was very excited to start my Ph.D. at Cornell and to attend the first ASV Annual meeting in 1982. That gave me an opportunity to assist in the organization of the meeting and give my first scientific talk, and to meet with many virologists whose papers I had read – all of whom were kind and helpful to a very naïve junior graduate student. Since then I have continued to recognize the value of ASV’s role in making virology a vibrant discipline, and I have tried to support its mission and to pass on to others the support that I have received throughout my career.”

The ASV counts among its members three Nobel Prize winners and numerous National Academy of Sciences (NAS) members and American Academy of Microbiology fellows. In addition, the annual meetings always include keynote and plenary addresses from distinguished scientists working in areas broadly related to virology, immunology and microbiology. Reflective of many of its eminent members, these addresses have been given by Nobel laureates (Baltimore, Bishop, Prusiner, Rice, Sharp, Varmus, Zinkernagel) and a long list of NAS members.

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