OUR Clemson; Research

Parrish receives award for support of ethical research


Clemson University veterinarian John Parrish has received the Jeff Cohen PRIM&R Service Award for his career-long commitment to ethical research.

PRIM&R (Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research) is an international nonprofit that promotes ethics and integrity in research involving animals and human subjects. The organization’s Service Award honors individuals who have provided significant timely or timeless service to the PRIM&R community in areas including teaching, mentorship, innovation, leadership, engagement, program improvement and research. The award is named for Jeff Cohen, considered a pillar in the research ethics community, a longtime university professor and administrator who also served with the Office for Human Research Protections at the National Institutes of Health and an active PRIM&R advocate before his death in 2021.

“I never met Jeff Cohen, but I’ve talked to people who knew him, I’ve read about him and have learned just how well respected he was as a friend, mentor, boss, family man, and leader in the compliance community,” Parrish said. “It is my honor to receive this award that PRIMR has established to honor Dr. Cohen’s memory.  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be a part of his legacy.”

Parrish is director of the Godley-Snell Research Center and the Office of Animal Resources, which provides high-quality veterinary care programs, professional and technical support, education and training, and technologically advanced facilities and equipment for animal research and teaching activities. Parrish has more than 30 years of experience supporting infectious disease, toxicology, vaccine, trauma, vascular and other areas of medical research and teaching important to the military, contract research and academia. After a distinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Army, he led programs of animal care and use at the National Institutes of Health and two contract research organizations before joining Clemson in 2006.

“John is highly respected throughout Clemson, and in his field, for his professionalism and far-reaching support to researchers from numerous Colleges and disciplines,” said Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research. “John has led Clemson’s animal research programs during a period when our research activity has grown exponentially, and he has done so while maintaining a top-quality, accredited animal research program that has expanded in recent years to accommodate even more research activity.”

PRIM&R presented the award during a ceremony on Clemson’s campus Oct. 11. The award presentation will be shown during PRIM&R’s annual conference in December.

Parrish was nominated for the award by John Whitcomb, a professor in the School of Nursing and chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

“Dr. Parrish is an accomplished veterinarian whose work over the years has made a difference in the well-being of animals and influenced veterinary medicine,” Whitcomb said. “His leadership in research and his passion for teaching is commendable. His work embodies the nine core values of PRIM&R and is highly deserving of the Jeff Cohen PRIM&R Service Award.”

Tracy Arwood, Clemson associate vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer, credited Parrish with establishing a culture of ethics and integrity in animal research at Clemson.

“When John arrived, he brought a common sense approach to his work,” said Arwood, who has worked with Parrish since 2006. “He mended relationships, helped researchers understand how they could provide the highest possible care for animals and get quality data at the same time, and worked to make his office a resource not a deterrent.”

John Parrish, a man with glasses wearing a blue blazer and a tie with a Tiger paw lapel pin
John Parrish

Parrish is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), and the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners. He earned is PhD in molecular and cellular pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Auburn University.

He has also earned numerous military awards, including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Ribbon. He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.

“Jeff Cohen took the time to mentor those he came in contact with, and I encourage everyone to pass that gift for mentoring forward,” Parrish said. “And to all of you out there who made it possible for me to receive this award, because you took a moment, or sometimes many moments, to point me in the right direction, thank you.”

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