Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Charles Parker Dies; Pioneering Researcher Whose Work Led to Treatments for Allergies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Charles Parker Dies; Pioneering Researcher Whose Work Led to Treatments for Allergies

Article excerpt

Charlie Parker, who died this week at age 83, was a research scientist at Washington University School of Medicine who avoided computers and wrote nearly everything in longhand. His pioneering work led to improved treatments for allergy and asthma sufferers.

He developed penicillin skin-testing to determine if patients were at high risk for anaphlaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

In 1964, he founded the university's division of allergy and immunology.

Friends described him as an amazing thinker, who slept little and worked incessantly. He worked at the university and then at home. He wrote on paper while sitting on a recliner at home and another at his office.

"And you had better learn how to read his handwriting," said Dr. H. James Wedner, a friend and colleague. "It was horrible."

Dr. Charles Ward Parker died Tuesday (April 23, 2013) at his home in Webster Groves. He was diagnosed in February with pancreatic cancer, his family said.

Dr. Parker was a professor of medicine at Washington University for more than four decades. He was an immunologist and allergist. A list of the publications he wrote takes up 15 pages.

He grew up in Webster Groves and graduated from the high school there in 1947. His father was the registrar at Washington University's medical school and his mother was a homemaker. He was the younger of two sons.

He loved history, but friends said he had a scientific mind and was destined to become a scientist.

He graduated from Washington University medical school in 1953 and married Dr. Mary Langston, one of the three or four women students in his class. She later became director of the health service at Washington University.

He served in the Navy from 1954-56. He was stationed on a CIA base on the Pacific island of Saipan, his family recalled.

He returned home for his residency at Barnes Hospital, where he was chief resident. He became interested in allergy to penicillin.

Penicillin had been discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and came into wide use during the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. This led to the realization that approximately 1 of every 10,000 doses resulted in anaphylaxis, which may cause death in as many as one of every five of those patients. …

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