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

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.

About Cook Children’s Hyperinsulinism Center

Learning that one of the world's most respected congenital hyperinsulinism centers is right here at Cook Children's can be a life-saving moment. Congenital hyperinsulinism is the most common cause of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in infants more than 3 days old, as well as children. If this rare, and often severe, genetic disorder is not treated, these children are at risk for seizures or even permanent brain damage. Finding the right care is very important in preventing irreversible damage and improving quality of life. Dr. Thornton inside

One of the first programs in the nation, Cook Children's Hyperinsulinism Center uses a specialized team approach to treat hyperinsulinism (HI). Hyperinsulinism affects many areas of the body, so to truly treat every aspect of HI each child is seen by top physicians, nurses, researchers and specialists in the field. These medical professionals have spent additional years of intense study and have dedicated their practice to focusing on HI. That means your child has access to the best care available. It is this level of treatment that has helped earn our program a distinguished international reputation for extraordinary care and achieving positive results.

Learn more about Cook Children’s Hyperinsulinism Center here.

About Cook Children’sUS News & World report

Cook Children’s is more than a health care system: we strive to be an extension of your family, growing with your child from their first steps to adulthood. By collaborating to deliver on our Promise—to improve the well-being of every child in our care and our communities, we connect the dots for our patients. Between primary and specialty. Between home and medical home. Between short-term care and long-term health.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re 8,000+ dedicated team members strong, passionately caring for over 1.5 million patient encounters each year. Our integrated, not-for-profit organization spans two medical centers (including our new, state-of-the-art location in Prosper), two surgery centers, a physician network, home health services and a health plan. It also includes Child Study Center at Cook Children's, Cook Children's Health Services Inc., and Cook Children's Health Foundation. 

And our impact extends beyond the borders of Texas. We proudly treat children from virtually every state in the nation and 32 countries. By seeing the world through the eyes of children and their families from all backgrounds, we’re able to shape health care suited to them: connected by kindness, imagination and respect—with an extra dose of magical wonder.

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