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In Memoriam: Dr. Dilys Parry

, by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

black and white photograph of Dilys Parry

Dr. Dilys Parry

Dr. Dilys Parry died peacefully in her sleep in the early morning of February 2, 2024, after a long illness. For 30 years, Dr. Parry was a staff clinician and principal investigator in DCEG. Following her retirement from federal service in 2007 she continued to engage with her colleagues on projects as a special volunteer. 

Dr. 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 patients about the natural history of these diseases and helping them 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 Dr. Parry’s early interest in the disease. 

Dr. Parry helped to establish the NIH Inter-Institute Medical Genetics Training Program. She served as Associate Director of the program 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 in that year, she was recognized for her outstanding mentorship as co-recipient of the first DCEG Mentoring Award. In DCEG, Dr. Parry developed and directed the interdisciplinary cancer genetics fellowship program to ensure the proper training of scientists engaged in the field of cancer genetics—which at the time was in its infancy—and received an NIH Award of Merit in 2002 for fostering this program.  

In addition to her research and mentoring, Dr. 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 their extended family.