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Cook Children’s World-Renowned Expert in Rare Endocrine Disorder Receives Fort Worth Sister Cities Global Impact Award

Dr. Thornton Award HD 1080p

Dr. Thornton's tenacity and dedication has helped improve the quality of life for children across the globe with this rare disease.

Cook Children’s is proud to announce Paul Thornton, M.D., medical director of Diabetes and Endocrinology, is the recipient of the 2023 Global Impact Award. The City of Fort Worth and Fort Worth Sister Cities International bestowed the award for Dr. Thornton’s lifelong work in hyperinsulinism, a potentially devastating, rare genetic disease.

The award was presented at the Mayor’s International Dinner by Mayor Mattie Parker on Nov. 1. This award recognizes Dr. Thornton’s tenacity and dedication to helping improve the quality of life for children across the globe with this rare disease. Paul Thornton, M.D.

“Born in Ireland, Dr. Thornton is truly world-renowned and one of the leaders in his field,” said Rick W. Merrill, President and CEO of Cook Children’s Health Care System. “We are so glad he settled here in Fort Worth and we are extremely honored to share him with the world.”

Hyperinsulinism occurs when the pancreas produces too much insulin, driving blood sugar levels dangerously low and depriving the brain of important fuels it needs to function. It affects about 1 in every 25,000 to 50,000 newborn babies each year. For those affected by the rare condition, it can be a life-changing event. Without an accurate diagnosis, children face living with seizures and permanent brain damage.

Dr. Thornton has played a pivotal role in establishing the first two hyperinsulinism centers in the United States. First, at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and today at Cook Children’s. Our center provides the highest level of multidisciplinary care to congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) patients and their families, many of whom travel from around the country and the world to receive care from Dr. Thornton and his team.

“This caliber of treatment is not only rare in the United States, but it’s rare all over the world,” said Jonathan Nedrelow, M.D., associate chief medical officer of Cook Children’s. “He does a lot of work with family advocacy groups for rare diseases and is committed to being a part of the journey for these families and patients.”_UD16555

Dr. Thornton led a team in creating a new international screening that helps other doctors recognize symptoms and manage newborn infants who are at an increased risk of hypoglycemia. He leads HI research to better understand the disease and treatment options and speaks to clinicians around the world about managing this disease.

“Dr. Thornton's tireless dedication has touched lives across the globe,” said Danielle Drachmann, CEO of Ketotic Hypoglycemia International. “His vision, expertise and the collaborative spirit he instills, with the utmost respect for the expertise of affected families' lived experiences, have created ripples of positive change. His work is a testament to the remarkable power of collective effort to make a global impact.” 

Dr. Thornton’s recognition as a leader also earned him one of the first two endowed chairs at Cook Children’s.

“On behalf of all of us at Cook Children’s, we want to say how proud we are to see Fort Worth Sister Cities International recognize our own Dr. Paul Thornton with the Global Impact Award for his very distinguished career,” Mr. Merrill said.