“I want to do research first,” he says. “Research schools offer greater opportunity to be in policy-making positions. There are two kinds of schools, one for primary care, the other for research. That’s kind of how med schools are going these days.
“I want to be an accredited clinical physician and do a residency after I’ve done research. I want to work with patients, and I’m interested in surgery.”
He takes a sip of water, then: “My research has spurred a very strong interest in the intersection between medicine and evolutionary genetics.”
Asked if he would be interested in working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said yes, adding he’s also open to working for the National Institutes for Health and the World Health Organization — places where he could deal with epidemics.
Parrish’s research has prompted him to establish Folding@IU, a philanthropic project he has worked on in addition to his laboratory research.
“Understanding protein folding is the key to beginning to understand the way in which incorrect protein assembly can cause human diseases,” Parrish says between bites of a chicken sandwich.
It leads to learning more about the genetic code in the search for answers that will advance the treatment and cure of debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, mad cow and Huntington’s.
He says Folding@IU gives students who are not comfortable with joining traditional campus groups an opportunity to become part of a voluntary research-oriented program.
Folding@IU makes research contributions to Stanford University’s Folding@home project, which studies molecular dynamics and diseases involving protein malfunction.
It’s a massive project too big for any single computer, Parrish explains. Thus, teams around the world — there are 215,000 of them — are part of the Stanford project, working on pieces of the protein puzzle.