Pediatrician D. Holmes Morton, MD, DSc (honorary), and his wife, Caroline, founded the Clinic for Special Children (www.clinicforspecialchildren.org) in 1989 in Lancaster County, Pa., to provide general medical care for children with inherited disorders of biochemistry. Located on an Amish farm near Strasburg, the non-profit medical center has become recognized internationally as a place where emerging data from genomic medicine is routinely used to care for the individual patient. The clinic has discovered the genetic basis of many medical problems within the Amish and Mennonite populations, including mental retardation, seizures, dystonia, deafness, bleeding disorders and unexpected deaths. These problems arise from gene mutations that were carried from Europe just 300 years ago, and the same mutations continue to be expressed elsewhere in Europe and throughout North America. In all human populations genetic disorders masquerade as the familiar conditions called cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and even child abuse. Dr. Morton will discuss his work as a pediatrician and the idea that an important frontier of translational genetics is in the everyday work of caring for the patient.
The lecture is part of the Donald K. Buffmire Visiting Lectureship in Medicine series, initiated in 1997 by the Flinn Foundation to continue its commitment to bring to Arizona leading practitioners and thinkers in the medical field. The lectureship offers physicians, students and community members opportunities to hear from distinguished leaders in the field of medicine and medical education. The Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation is a privately endowed organization that awards grants to nonprofit organizations in Arizona, primarily to improve the competitiveness of the state’s biomedical research enterprise.