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Posted November 1, 2012
Dr. Allen Root Receives the 2012 William Belcher Award

The All Children's Hospital Foundation has bestowed its highest honor upon Allen W. Root, M.D. with the 2012 William Belcher Award. Dr. Allen RootWilliam S. "Bill" Belcher was the first All Children's Hospital Board chairman and a tireless advocate on behalf of All Children's and our patients. After Bill died in 1992, the Foundation created the William Belcher Award to honor his legacy. The Award is given to an individual who represents the leadership, commitment and passionate advocacy that Bill exemplified. Dr. Root has been a member of the All Children's faculty for 39 years. His passion and dedication have helped to advance All Children's mission and benefited children all across Florida.

Dr. Root and his wife, Janet, arrived at All Children's in 1973 along with their three children. Previously on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, Dr. Root was recruited to establish a pediatric endocrinology program at All Children's Hospital and to lead the University Teaching Service, training the second- and third-year USF pediatric residents who rotated through the Hospital.

"In addition to our full-time faculty there was an extensive cadre of excellent community pediatricians who made the commitment to serve as volunteer faculty and help support the residency program," Dr. Root recalls. "They were absolutely terrific...everybody, I think, from the residents through the faculty, enjoyed that experience."

Dr. Root cared for thousands of young patients at All Children's Hospital over the years and made many contributions to clinical care, pediatric medical education and endocrine research (his first laboratory was located in the hospital's basement and affectionately dubbed "the Root Cellar").

He also made contributions to child health policy that benefited a generation of Florida's children. In 1979, he was appointed to the state's first Infant Screening Advisory Committee; at that time Florida screened only for PKU (now infants are screened for more than 40 congenital disorders). Dr. Root immediately advocated for screening for congenital hypothyroidism, which was added in 1980 and has since prevented mental retardation in thousands of Florida children. He also helped establish the neonatal screening program for congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Dr. Root chaired the Infant Screening Advisory Committee for 12 years and remained a member until 2011.

Dr. Root served as professor of pediatrics, associate and vice-chair of the Department of Pediatrics with the University of South Florida as well as director of the All Children's Hospital pediatric residency prior to its incorporation into the USF pediatric residency program.  He has been honored by USF with the Distinguished Service Award, the Professorial Excellence Award and the Joanne & Charles Fishel Distinguished Scientist Award.  At All Children's, he was given the Councill C. Rudolph Medical Staff Award for dedication to children's healthcare, and the ACH Resident of the Year Award and the Kuehnle Visiting Professorship in Pediatric Endocrinology were both established in his honor.

Having taught hundreds of pediatric residents over the years, Dr. Root inspired many of the pediatricians who serve our region's children. He was also a teacher and mentor to endocrinology fellows who now practice in Florida and beyond; some lead pediatric endocrinology programs across the globe, including in Seoul and Tel Aviv.

Back in 1973, it was a double rainbow in the sky over Tampa Bay that helped Dr. Root and his family decide to come to All Children's and St. Petersburg, where they flourished. He and Janet, a longtime educator, have three children who all were inspired to become physicians; daughter Jennifer Root Mayer, M.D. has been a member of All Children's medical staff since 1996.

Family is also the word that best describes his early years at All Children's Hospital, Dr. Root recalls. "I knew it had tremendous potential just by virtue of the enthusiasm and commitment of the people here, yet I could not have had any inkling of the extraordinary course it would take."

The 2012 Belcher Award is a tribute to Dr. Root's extraordinary contributions to All Children's history and to its patients, families and physicians.