David Parsons

David Parsons

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Associate Professor David Parsons, Chief Medical Scientist. TITLEHOLDER
Associate Professor David Parsons is the leader of the Cystic Fibrosis Stream at the Children's Research Centre and Chief Medical Scientist in the Department of Respiratory And Sleep Medicine at the Women's and Children's Hospital. He is also Head of the Adelaide Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Group at the Robinson Institute, and an Affiliate Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Paediatrics at the University of Adelaide.
Associate Professor David Parsons has devoted the past 25 years to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) airway disease and has twice-won Service Excellence Awards administered by the Women's and Children's Health Network for his innovations in this and related fields. He is a Fellow of the ANZSRS. He and his research team have pioneered a ground-breaking gene therapy technique that has been successful in reversing the basic cellular defect that causes CF in mouse models, and that holds promise as a long-lasting treatment for CF lung disease.
He was also responsible for initiating and championing leading-edge research into the surface behaviour of airways in health and disease using non-invasive synchrotron X-ray imaging techniques. By monitoring the ASL and microscopic particles previously considered too small to view in living airways, David hopes to pioneer new and more effective ways of measuring the success of respiratory treatments like gene therapy in CF patients.
David's development of CF airway gene transfer methods were supported initially by the USA CF Foundation, and have evolved to also attract funding from other funding bodies, including the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia.


Since the mid 1990's I have been developing airway gene transfer methods to achieve a safe and effective treatment or cure for clinical use for the lung disease of cystic fibrosis. I have led the Adelaide CF Airway Gene Therapy group since establishing it in 1997. My establishment of reliable and effective in-vivo airway gene vector dosing and gene expression measurement has been coupled with developing effective, rapid and non-invasive measurement of airway health in CF airways using synchrotron and other X-rays along with other in-vivo imaging such as biophotonic techniques based on luciferase gene transfer.

My interest and expertise space three themes.

(1) Development of novel analysis methods with potentially wide applicability. Starting with novel measurements of single-neuron activity in the Aplysia animal model in-vivo (Science 221, 1203-, 1983), now I am championing development of synchrotron X-ray imaging to investigate animal airway health and physiology in-vivo. 

(2) Enablement of practical advances in medical therapy with potentially fundamental value, demonstrated by the >16 years efforts in development of airway gene transfer for treatment or cure of CF airway disease. This theme has advanced into the translational preclinical arena with initial trials of airway gene transfer in a non-human primate lung model (the marmoset).

(3) The last theme is the fostering of new and often cross-discipline collaborations, local and worldwide. My expansion into synchrotron X-ray physics to develop new airway health outcome measurements, based at the Japanese SPring-8 synchrotron, is an obvious example.

I continually supervise Honors and PhD students to foster new research careers, and I played a key role in establishing a community-based research Foundation (www.cure4cf.org) that has supplemented and supported the continuity, resilience, and bridging-salary needs of our CF airway gene therapy research program.

NHMRC Research Funding
2016 Project Grant - 1098127 Identifying the role of airway stem cells in maintaining lentiviral mediated gene expression for cystic fibrosis lung disease $814,272.20
2015 Project - APP1079712 Revolutionising the diagnosis and monitoring of CF lung disease $792,777.95
2013 Development Grants - APP1055116 From the synchrotron to the clinic: translation of a novel functional lung imaging technology $859,797.00


Other Research Funding
2015 International - FOURAS15GI0 CIB USA CF Foundation $127,000.00
2015 Cure4CF Foundation, Ltd CIA Philanthropic $152,000.00
2015 International - PARSON15G0 CIA USA CF FOUNDATION $275,000.00
2014 Supplemental support Team Leader, CIA Philanthropic - Cure4CF Foundation, Scott family trust $230,000.00
2014 NGO's (non-profit) CIB Women's & Children's Hospital Foundation $69,687.00
2013 Supplement Support - Philanthropic Team Leader, CIA WCH Foundation / Scott family trust $250,000.00
2012 366-13110843 - University CIA Centre for Stem Cell Research (CSCR) $64,000.00
2012 NGO's (non-profit) CIB WCH Foundation $43,754.00


  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor Improving the effectiveness of airway lentiviral gene therapy for cystic fibrosis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Nikki Reyne
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Overcoming Challenges to Development of a Lentiviral-Mediated Airway Gene-Addition Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Alexandra Sarah Ann Mc Carron
    2014 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Lentiviral-mediated Gene Therapy for Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIA Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Chantelle McIntyre
    2013 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Development of Lentiviral Airway Gene Therapy Aerosol Delivery Techniques for Cystic Fibrosis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Harshavardini Padmanabhan
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Cystic Fibrosis: The role of airway stem cells in sustained gene expression by lentiviral directed gene therapy Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Nigel Farrow
    2006 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Longevity of Airway Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis: Single and Repeat Lentiviral Dosing Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Patricia Lucia Cmielewski
    2006 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy: Methods for the Optimisation of CFTR Gene Delivery Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Karlea Kremer
    2004 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Towards Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Airway Disease: Development of a Single-Dose Lentiviral Gene Transfer for Lifetime Airway Expression Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Alice Stocker
    1998 - 2003 Principal Supervisor A LENTIVIRAL GENE TRANSFER VECTOR FOR THE TREATMENT OF CYSTIC FIBROSIS AIRWAY DISEASE Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Maria Limberis
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2012 - ongoing Member Imaging and Medical, Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) Australian Synchrotron -
    2010 - ongoing Founder Management Committee National Non-Human Primate Breeding and Research Facility -
    2009 - ongoing Member Animal studies establishment committee Australian Synchrotron -
    2009 - ongoing Member Australian and New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science - -
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2003 - ongoing - American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy -
    2003 - ongoing - Australian Gene Therapy Society -
    1991 - ongoing - Australia and New Zealand Society for Respiratory Science -
    1991 - ongoing - Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand -
    1990 - ongoing - South Australian Medical Scientists Association -
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2009 - ongoing Australian Synchrotron - - -
    2008 - 2013 American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy - - -

Connect With Me
External Profiles

Other Links