Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, Division of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Specialization: Biothreat agents, Biosafety, Biohazards, Biorisk management
Professor Parker is Emeritus Professor of Medical Biochemistry and Structural Biology at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is the founding Director of the Cape Town Component of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), 2007-2016. Prior to accepting this position, he was the Director of Research for the Health Science Faculty at UCT.
He is a past president of the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB), secretary general of the Federation of African Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and served on the executive committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He serves on the International Scientific Advisory Committees of the UNESCO International Centre for Biotechnology at the University of Nsukka, Nigeria, and the UNESCO Biotechnology Centre in Tripoli, Libya, and serves as a Peer Reference Group Member for the International Science Programme funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
Professor Parker is a fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and served as general secretary (2000-2004) and vice president (2010-2016) and currently serves as chair of the ASSAf Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee. He is a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and is currently a vice president of the African Academy of Sciences.
Parker is active in the areas of biosafety and biosecurity, and as chair of the ASSAf Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee he was part of a panel that was constituted to do an assessment of the Sate of Biosafety and Biosecurity in South Africa. International activities in this activity include:
- Invited by the chair of the United Nations Security Council 1540 Committee as speaker and panellist at an informal session on biological security to address the 1540 Group of Experts on Academia and Industry approached to Biological Safety and Security and the roles of Codes of Conduct in New York, 15 July 2015.
- Invited to participate and give a presentation at the UNSCR 1540 Civil Society Forum: A Dialogue with Academia and Civil Society, United Nations, New York, 11-12 April 2016.
- Invited to participate in the 2017 meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, and to deliver a paper at the side event organized by IAP.
- Invited to chair a session at an international workshop on Assessing the Security Implications of Genome Editing Technology in Hannover, Germany, 11-13 October 2017.
- In 2018, in his capacity as a member of the South African Biological Weapons Working Committee, he was co-organizer of a Sub-Saharan African regional workshop on Science and Technology Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention under the auspices of UNODA and the South African Non-Proliferation Council in Pretoria, South Africa 25-26 July 2018).
- Invited by the US National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine to serve on the Committee on Governance of Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences: Advancing Global Consensus on Research Oversight and participated in the international workshop held in Croatia (10-13 June 2018).
He is recipient of the National Science and Technology Forum award for ‘Outstanding Contributions in Science, Engineering and Technology’, the SASBMB Gold Medal for his contributions to biochemistry, and the Oettle Medal by the Cancer Association of South Africa for ‘Significant contributions to cancer research’.