Dr. C. Charlton Mabry, professor of pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and a 1950 alumnus of Maryville College, was honored as a recipient of the College’s Distinguished Service Award during two events held Oct. 23 as part of Homecoming festivities.
Established in 1991, the Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service within their community, church or chosen profession.
“Since 1961, Dr. Charlton Mabry’s chosen profession has been as a teacher, physician and researcher at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine,” said Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, president emeritus, in making the presentation. “Early on, he made a name for himself, internationally, researching maternal phenylketonuria, or maternal PKU.”
PKU is a genetic disorder that is characterized by an inability of the body to utilize the essential amino acid, phenylalanine. The condition leads to mental retardation and seizures, but with early identification, treatment and adherence to a low phenylalanine diet, patients can lead normal lives.
His research on the subject was published twice in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Mabry was instrumental in Kentucky’s newborn screening legislation in 1966 for PKU and later tirelessly lobbied the Kentucky Legislature to require additional tests of all newborns. In 2005, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 24, which approved the expanded screening program for 29 disorders and made its funding permanent.
Today, the state can identify 44 disorders that could cause mental retardation, blindness, deafness, sudden infant death syndrome - disorders that in many cases can be successfully treated through medications and special diets.
Mabry, who came to Maryville College from Knoxville’s Central High School in 1947, earned his medical degree from Emory University in 1954 and an M.S. from Temple University in 1960. From 1959 until 1961, Mabry was a post-doctoral trainee at the National Institute for Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1961, he was one of the first eight pediatricians to join the faculty of UK’s new College of Medicine.
Although he officially retired from full-time work in 1996, Mabry has continued to see young patients in the Mabry Metabolic Unit, which was named for him in 2005.
On Oct. 15, the Clark Group released First Fifty: A Pediatric Story, which Mabry authored with help from wife Barbara Blum Mabry (a Maryville College alumna from the Class of 1952) and Mabry Metabolic Unit assistant Jim Niemi. Published in conjunction with the medical school’s 50-year anniversary, the book looks at the last half century of the university’s department of pediatrics’ efforts to provide the best medical care available anywhere so that sick children of the state would not have to travel across state lines for diagnosis and treatment.