HELENA – On Monday July 30, Shodair Children’s Hospital honored the memory of the late Dr. Phil Pallister by dedicating the Pallister Medical Genetics Laboratory.
Family, colleges and healthcare professionals spoke at the event to remember Pallister and honor his contributions to genetics and healthcare in Montana.
Pallister was a pioneering advocate for the care of individuals with intellectually disabilities.
As the clinical director at the Montana State Training School in Boulder he oversaw the construction of a new hospital which would focus on quality care for all the residents. Before Pallister took over the facility was considered a “warehouse” for the intellectually disabled.
Now named Boulder River School and Hospital, Pallister established a laboratory that screened newborns for certain disorders such as Down syndrome.
Pallister is credited with the discovery and first description of many genetic disorders.
Shortly after retiring from Boulder River School he established the Shodair genetics program.
Each year the Shodair genetics laboratory processes around 2,000 samples through traditional genetic technologies, chromosomal microarray analysis and next-generation sequencing.
Staff said their work helps rural families across the state through the diagnosis of complex genetic conditions.
Administrative Director of Genetics at Shodair Sara Boutilier, RN MSN, said Pallister left a legacy that has defines how modern genetic disorders are treated in the state.
“[Phil Pallister’s] impact has been tremendous and has allowed for clinical and laboratory services to be provided in the state of Montana,” said Boutilier, “He was really fundamental and critical in developing a relationship and partnership with the state.”
In a statement that was read on behalf of Governor Steve Bullock, Pallister was praised for all of his work and dedication to providing genetic testing to rural Montana.
“Montana owes Dr. Pallister a great debt of gratitude for the work he has done,” wrote Bullock.
Pallister helped to create and develop special education programs in Montana public schools and fought to end eugenics and Montana’s forced sterilization policies.
Family members say Pallister may seemed to have had a gruff exterior, but underneath he was an incredibly caring man with an immense heart.