Manary named Roberson Professor of Pediatrics

Mark J. Manary, M.D., has been named the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine.

“Mark Manary is an outstanding choice for the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Dr. Manary has developed innovative approaches to improving the lives of children in Africa. He is a credit to his field and most deserving of this generous honor supported by an endowment gift from Helene B. Roberson.”

“Mark is an internationally recognized expert and advocate for severely malnourished children whose pioneering clinical studies reshape our approach to this profound health issue,” said Alan L. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.D., the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of Pediatrics. “Further, he is an outstanding clinician, educator, citizen of Washington University and colleague.”


“I am very, very honored to receive the Roberson chair,” said Manary, professor of pediatrics and a specialist in emergency medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Mrs. Roberson’s vision is about having a better future for children, which is coincident with what we have going on in our Department of Pediatrics as well as the kind of work that I embrace. We want to not only offer the very best to the kids with whom we have contact everyday, but to those who will never come to our facility or to St. Louis.”

Manary has spent several years devoted to researching the effectiveness of a simple yet revolutionary peanut-butter mixture with severely and moderately malnourished young children in the sub-Saharan African country of Malawi, where malnutrition affects 70 percent of children.

After completing a Fulbright Scholarship in Africa, Manary developed improved, peanut-butter based foods to address the malnutrition epidemic in Malawi. The therapeutic feeding program uses the nutrient-rich mixture, called Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which contains peanuts, powdered milk, oil, sugar, and added vitamins and minerals. It has been remarkably successful in promoting recovery among severely malnourished children in Malawian clinics in which Manary works.

Manary also is working with plant scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to boost the nutrition in cassava, a starchy root that is a diet staple of 200 million of the poorest Africans. The scientists have improved the protein, iron and Vitamin A content in the cassava, which will soon be tested in fields in Nigeria and Kenya.

Manary earned a medical degree from the School of Medicine in 1982 and completed an internship and residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. After spending four years as a medical officer in Tanzania and on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, he joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1989 as an instructor.

Since 1994, he has also been a senior lecturer in pediatrics at the Medical College of Malawi, and, in 2001, became an associate professor of pediatrics (voluntary faculty) at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

A lifelong supporter of the arts, education and health care, Roberson established this professorship in 2000. A native St. Louisan, Roberson graduated from Mary Institute and attended Washington University’s School of Art, now the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. During World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross in the Motor Corps division and as a nurse’s aide volunteering at Barnes and Jewish hospitals.

Roberson owned and operated Daytona Budweiser Inc., an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler in Port Orange, Fla., where she served as its chief executive officer and president for more than 35 years before retiring.