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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Retired NCI Investigator Parry Remembered

Dr. Parry

Dr. Dilys Parry

Dr. Dilys Parry died peacefully in her sleep on Feb. 2, after a long illness. For 30 years, she was a staff clinician and principal investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Following retirement from federal service in 2007, she continued to engage with colleagues on projects as a special volunteer. 

Parry’s medical genetics research focused primarily on genetic and clinical studies of neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) and chordoma, a rare bone tumor derived from the notochord, and adult brain tumors. She was deeply committed to educating people about the natural history of these diseases and helping patients and at-risk relatives receive genetic testing or other types of screening to aid in early detection and treatment. Her research helped to identify susceptibility genes for and delineate the spectrum of clinical manifestations associated with NF2 and chordoma. She also elucidated correlations between the specific types of variants in the gene NF2 and clinical findings. Much of the momentum that exists in chordoma research traces back to Parry’s early interest in the disease. 

Parry helped establish the NIH Inter-Institute Medical Genetics Training Program and served as its associate director from 1980 to 1994 and director from 1994 to 1995. Being involved in its development and mentoring the outstanding fellows who participated were some of the most fulfilling aspects of her career. She was recognized with the NIH Director’s Award in 1989 for her role in establishing and maintaining the training program. Also that year, she was recognized for her outstanding mentorship as co-recipient of the first DCEG Mentoring Award. 

In DCEG, Parry developed and directed the interdisciplinary cancer genetics fellowship program to ensure proper training of scientists engaged in the field, which at the time was in its infancy. She received an NIH Award of Merit in 2002 for fostering the program.  

In addition to her research and mentoring, Parry served the institute in critical roles on the NCI Special Studies Institutional Review Board, both as vice chair and chair.

She is survived by her husband, Richard, stepdaughter Sarah, and extended family.

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