Dr. Parke’s career has had an enormous impact in the Charlotte community and beyond for many pediatricians and their patients. He trained two generations of pediatricians, blazed trails for infant care and conducted research that has benefited children worldwide.
A North Carolina native, born in the tiny town of Conway, and a graduate of both UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate program and medical school, Dr. Parke opened his first pediatric practice in Charlotte in 1963 with the late Griggs Dickson, MD. In 1968, he became the first director of the new pediatric residency program at what was later to become Carolinas Medical Center. He held this position as well as Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics for the next 22 years, after which he became the Director of Pediatric Research for the next decade.
Dr. Parke was the first neonatologist in Charlotte and through his dedication and hard work, every hospital in Mecklenburg County that cares for mothers and newborns boasts a state-of-the-art Intensive Care Nursery, resulting in clinical outcomes and quality measures far surpassing national averages. He was instrumental in creating the state regional referral program for premature infants, ensuring that newborns in need of intensive care got to the nearest hospital with those services.
Truly tireless in his efforts, Dr. Parke became the first geneticist in Charlotte, starting the clinical genetics program at CMC, researching the complexities of children born with congenital anomalies. He served as director there for 20 years, and that genetics program now stands as a regional referral center.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Parke was an associate investigator into the immunogenic properties of a new Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HIB) vaccine. Now part of the standard childhood vaccine regimen, HIB vaccine has resulted in a decrease of invasive HIB disease by over 99 percent in just 20 years.
Dr. Parke accepted his award at the NCMS Annual Meeting at the Raleigh Marriott City Center surrounded by nearly 200 of his friends and colleagues.