Tarr installed as Carnahan professor

Phillip I. Tarr, M.D., head of pediatric gastroenterology and professor of pediatrics, was recently installed as the first Melvin E. Carnahan Professor in Pediatrics.

The professorship was established by an anonymous donor in honor of the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash in October 2000.

Phillip I. Tarr, M.D., head of pediatric gastroenterology and the first Melvin E. Carnahan Professor in Pediatrics, reviews a radiograph.
Phillip I. Tarr, M.D., head of pediatric gastroenterology and the first Melvin E. Carnahan Professor in Pediatrics, reviews a radiograph.

The donor chose to name the professorship after Carnahan to honor and remember the governor because “he was a great man, a great governor and a great person, who did all he could for children.”

“This distinguished professorship will forever recognize and honor a man who has meant a great deal to the state of Missouri,” said Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“We are honored that the Carnahan name will be associated with Washington University in perpetuity through this endowed professorship for one of our most outstanding faculty members.”

The donor’s high regard for School of Medicine pediatricians offered an ideal fit for the Carnahan professorship.

“I am deeply grateful to our generous and thoughtful donor for such a meaningful contribution,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “This new professorship is a wonderful tribute to the Carnahan legacy in light of the family’s long-standing advocacy of children’s issues, especially education and children’s health. Dr. Tarr is a most worthy recipient of this recognition.”

Alan L. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.D., the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor of Pediatrics and head of the Department of Pediatrics added, “Phil Tarr’s background in pediatric infectious diseases and gastroenterology, coupled with his strong clinical and teaching commitments, make him a great match for this position.”

Tarr researches how E. coli infects humans and cattle, and the underlying mechanisms of gastrointestinal problems that result from E. coli infection and treatment approaches for the infection.

In the fall of 2002, Tarr came to Washington University from the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, where he was a professor of pediatrics and of microbiology.

Tarr earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a medical degree from Yale University.

“It’s an honor to hold this professorship as it will supply much needed flexibility and support and will permit us to ask novel questions and to embark on creative projects,” Tarr said. “Washington University hopes this research can evolve into opportunities that amalgamate scientific discovery and patient care.”

Carnahan was in the midst of campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate when his plane crashed, killing him; his son, Randy; and senior campaign adviser, Chris Sifford.

Carnahan won the race posthumously and his wife, Jean, was named to the seat.

Both Mel and Jean graduated from George Washington University. He served in the Air Force and then earned a law degree at the University of Missouri Law School.

The governor’s administration focused on improving the quality of Missouri’s academic and technical education programs.

As a U.S. senator, Jean championed children’s issues and was the chief lobbyist for one of her husband’s major achievements — the passage of legislation to fund daycare and pre-school services at local schools.

The Carnahan children continue in their parents’ political footsteps.

Robin is secretary of state and Russ holds the 3rd District Congressional seat. Tom is a real-estate developer and helps his siblings with their campaigns.