Thomas D. Parsons, VMD, PhD, ACAW

Thomas D. Parsons, VMD, PhD, ACAW
Professor & Director, Swine Research and Training Center, School of Veterinary Medicine at University of Pennsylvania


Amherst College, Amherst, MA, B.A. Biology & Neuroscience, Magna Cum Laude, 1982

Veterinary Medical School

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, V.M.D., 1986

Graduate Studies

University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., Neuroscience, 1989

Training and Fellowship Appointments

  • 1982-1988 Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1988-1989 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Pennsylvania Muscle Institute School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Supervisor: Brian M. Salzberg
  • 1988-1989 Resident Visitor, Solid State and Quantum Physics Research Dept., AT&T Bell Labs
  • 1989-1992 Research Associate, Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Emory University, Supervisor: H. Criss Hartzell
  • 1993-1995 Research Associate, Abteilung Molekulare Zellforschung Max-Planck-Institut f. Medizinische Forschung, Heidelberg, Germany Supervisors: Wolfhard Almers & Bert Sakmann

Hospital and Administrative Appointments

  • 1991 Associate Director, Grass Fellowship Program in Neurophysiology Marine Biological Laboratory
  • 2001 to date Director of Swine Research and Teaching Center, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2006 to 2008 Interim Chief – Section of Reproduction, University of Pennsylvania
  • Year Appointed to Penn Faculty
  • CS-NBC – 1996 / ORL-HN – 2000

Areas of Special Interest

Neuroscience with a special emphasis on synaptic mechanisms in the auditory system Swine health and well-being

Memberships in Professional and Scientific Societies

  • American Association for Advancement of Science
  • American Association of Swine Veterinarians
  • Association for Research Otolaryngology
  • Biophysical Society
  • Society of General Physiologists
  • Society for Neuroscience

Centers, Institutes, and Graduate Group Membership

  • 1996 to date Center for Animal Health and Productivity – School of Veterinary Medicine
  • 1997 to date Institute for Neurological Studies – University of Pennsylvania
  • 1998 to date Graduate Group in the Neurosciences – Biomedical Studies
  • 1999 to date Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research – School of Veterinary Medicine
  • 2000 to date Marie Lowe Cancer Center – School of Veterinary Medicine

Recent Awards, Honors, Prizes, or Commendations

  • 2011 New York Farmers Award
  • 2010 First Annual Animal Welfare Advocacy Award, given by the Pennsylvania Association of Veterinary Medicine
  • 2007 Dean’s Award for Innovation in Clinical Teaching
  • 2001 Participant in the German-American Frontiers in Science Symposium (Sponsored by Nat. Acad. of Science & von Humboldt Society)
  • 2001 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence

Editorial/Advisory Positions

  • 1999-2002 Editorial Board – Swine Health and Productivity
  • 2003 – Present Scientific Advisory Board of the American Humane Association
  • 2004 Present American Association of Swine Veterinarians Swine Welfare Committee
  • 2008 – Present Founding member of the American College of Animal Welfare

Ad Hoc Reviewer for

  • Journal of Physiology
  • EMBO Journal
  • Cell Calcium
  • Swine Health and Productivity
  • Clinical Diagnostics and Laboratory Investigations
  • European Journal of Neuroscience
  • Nature Cell Biology
  • Biophysical Journal
  • Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Journal of Neurophysiology
  • Journal of the Association of Research Otolaryngology
  • Journal of Neuroscience
  • Journal of Environmental Quality
  • Nature
  • NIH Study Section: Integrative Function and Cognitive Neuroscience #6


Master and Doctoral Thesis Title:
Parsons, T.D. The role of extracellular cations in the modulation of nerve conduction velocity. Amherst College Thesis (1982).

Parsons, T.D. Optical monitoring of the electrical activity of neuronal ensembles constructed from identified invertebrate cells. University of Pennsylvania Thesis (1989).


Refereed Journals

Basic Science

Parsons, T.D. and R.H. Chow. Neuritic outgrowth in primary cell culture of neurons from the squid, Loligo pealei. Neurosci. Let. 97:23-28 (1989).

Parsons, T.D., D. Kleinfeld, G.F. Raccuia, and B.M. Salzberg. Optical recording of the electrical activity of synaptically interacting Aplysia neurons in culture using potentiometric probes. Biophys. J. 56:213-221 (1989).

Kleinfeld, D., T.D. Parsons, F. Raccuia-Behling, B.M. Salzberg, and A.L. Obaid. Foreign connections are formed in vitro between Aplysia interncuron L10 and its in vivo followers and non-followers. J. Exp. Biol. 154:237-255 (1990).

Parsons, T.D., R.E. White, A. Lagrutta, and H.C. Hartzell. Regulation of Ca 2+ current in frog cardiomyocytes by 5 ‘ -guanylylimidodiphosphate and acetylcholine. J. Physiol. 432:593-620 (1991).

Parsons, T.D., B.M. Salzberg, F. Raccuia-Behling, A.L. Obaid, and D. Kleinfeld. Long-term optical recording of patterns of electrical activity in ensembles of cultured Aplysia neurons. J. Neurophysiol 66:316-33 (1991).

Parsons, T.D., A.L. Obaid, and B.M. Salzberg. Aminoglycoside antibiotics inhibit Ca 2+ entry into the nerve terminals of the neurohypophysis. J. Gen. Physiol. 99:1-13 (1992).

Parsons, T.D. and H.C. Hartzell. Regulation of Ca 2+ current in frog cardiomyocytes by guanosine 5’-triphosphate analogs and isoproterenol. 102:525-549. J. Gen. Physiol. (1993).

Parsons, T.D., D. Lenzi, W. Almers, and W.M. Roberts. Calcium-triggered exocytosis and endocytosis in an isolated presynaptic cell: Capacitance measurements in saccular hair cells. 13:875-883. Neuron. (1994).

Parsons, T.D., J.C. Coorssen, H. Horstmann, and W. Almers. Docked granules, the exocytic burst and the need for ATP hydrolysis in endocrine cells. Neuron. 15:1085-1096 (1995).

Parsons, T.D., G.C.R. Ellis-Davies, J.H. Kaplan and W. Almers. Millisecond studies of calcium dependent exocytosis in pituitary melanotrophs: Comparison of the photolabile calcium chelators nitrophenyl-EGTA and DM-nitrophen. Cell Calcium 19:185-192. (1996).

Spassova, M.A., M.D. Eisen, J.C. Saunders, and T.D. Parsons. Cochlear hair cell exocytosis is mediated by DHPsensitive calcium channel. J. Physiol 353:35-44 (2001).

Parsons, T.D. and P. Sterling. Synaptic ribbon: a conveyor belt or safety belt? Neuron 37:379- 382 (2003).

Elmariah, S.B., M.A. Crumling, T.D. Parsons, R. Balice-Gordon. Postsynaptic TrkB-mediated signaling modulates excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor clustering at hippocampal synapses. J. Neurosci. 10:2380-93 (2004).

Eisen, M.D, M.A. Spassova, and T.D. Parsons. Large releasable pool of synaptic vesicles in chick cochlear hair. J. Neurophysiol. 91:2422-8 (2004).

Spassova, M., M. Avissar, A.C. Furman, M.A. Crumling, J.C. Saunders & T.D. Parsons. Evidence that rapid replenishment of the synaptic ribbon with vesicles mediates recovery from short-term adaptation at the hair cell afferent synapse. J.Assc.Res.Otolaryn. 5:376-390 (2004).

Avissar, M., Furman, A.C., Saunders, J.C. and T.D. Parsons. Adaptation reduces spike count reliability, but not spike timing precision of auditory nerve responses. J Neurosci. 13;27:6461-72 (2007).

Bell, T.J., Miyashiro, K.Y., Sul, J.Y., Jochems, J., Haydon, P.G., Parsons, T.D., and J. Eberwine. Cytoplasmic BKCa channel pre-mRNAs contribute to the excitability of hippocampal neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 12;105:1901-6 (2008).

Wittig, J.H. Jr and T.D. Parsons. Synaptic ribbon enables temporal precision of hair cell afferent synapse by increasing the number of readily releasable vesicles: A modeling study. J Neurophysiol 100:1724-1739 (2008).

Hughes, E.G., Peng, X., Gleichman, A.J., Lai, M., Zhou, L., Tsou, R., Parsons, T.D., Lynch, D.R., Dalmau, J., Balice-Gordon, R.J. Cellular and synaptic mechanisms of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. J Neurosci. 28;30:5866-75 (2010).

Bell TJ, Miyashiro KY, Sul JY, Buckley PT, Lee MT, McCullough R, Jochems J, Kim J, Cantor CR, Parsons TD, Eberwine JH. Intron retention facilitates splice variant diversity in calcium-activated big potassium channel populations.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 12;107:21152-7 (2010).

Clinical Science

Parsons, T.D., G. Smith, and D.T. Galligan. Economics of porcine parvovirus vaccination assessed by decision analysis. J. Prev. Vet. Med. 4:199 (1986).

Parsons, T.D., P.M. Pitcher, and C. Johnstone. Economic analysis of an epizootic outbreak of pseudorabies and subsequent production following the institution of a vaccination program in a Pennsylvania swine herd. J. Am. Vet. Med. 197:188-191 (1990).

Gardner, I.A., T.E. Carpenter, L. Leontidis, and T.D. Parsons. Financial evaluation of vaccination and testing alternatives for control of parvovirus-induced reproductive failure in swine. J. Am. Vet. Med. 208:863-869 (1996).

Hassinger, W.J., K.A. Monahan, K.A. T.L. Scanlon, and T.D. Parsons. Nutrient management practices among swine operations of various sizes. J. Am.Vet. Med. Assc. 217:1526-1535 (2000).

Zayas-Cruz, E. P.M. Pitcher and T.D. Parsons. Motivating and monitoring minimal crossfostering management in the farrowing house. J. Swine Health and Production 8:269-272 (2000).

Book Chapters and Reviews

Parsons, T.D., J.C. Coorssen, H. Horstmann, F.W. Tse, A.K. Lee and W. Almers. The last seconds in the life of a secretory granule. Cold Spring Harbor Quantitative Biology Symposia. 64:74-85 (1996).

Serpell, J.A. and T.D. Parsons. Food Animal Husbandry and the New Millennium. J. Appl. Anim. Wel. Sci. 4:1-6 (2001)

Fuchs, P.A. and T.D. Parsons. Synaptic physiology of the hair cell. In Springer Handbook of Auditory Research Series: The Hair Cell. Edited by R.A. Eatock, R.R. Fay and A.N. Popper. (2005)

Nouvian, R. Beutner, D. Parsons, T.D. and T. Moser. Structure and Function of the Hair Cell Ribbon Synapse. J. Mem. Biology 209:153-65. (2006)

Parsons, T.D. Auditory fidelity. Nature. 444:1013-4. (2006).

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