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Obituary: Matthew R. Barton, resident in otolaryngology, 35

Physician-scientist was in final months of seven-year residency

January 26, 2017

Matthew R. Barton, MD, a physician-scientist in his seventh and final year of residency in otolaryngology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died unexpectedly Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at his home in Webster Groves, Mo., of an undiagnosed medical condition. He was 35.

While in medical school, a research rotation at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., introduced him to academic medicine and clinical investigation. The experience made him want to become a physician-scientist aimed at developing better treatments for otolaryngology patients.

His longstanding professional interests included inner-ear sensory epithelial development and cell cycle regulation, but as his residency training progressed, he also became interested in patient safety and quality-improvement topics, particularly in the development of protocols designed to ensure the safe transit of tracheostomy/difficult airway patients through complex inpatient health-care systems.

A native of Gainesville, Ga., Barton earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia in 2003 and his medical degree at Mercer University School of Medicine in 2009. He completed a research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2010 and then came to Washington University and BJH for his residency training in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

In a collection of memories that colleagues gathered for Barton’s two children, he was described as devoted to his family and always eager to show a photo or video of his kids; one who modeled his faith in his daily life; a physician who had a way of connecting with patients and easing their fears and anxieties; and a person with a booming, infectious laugh that made others laugh along with him, even if they didn’t know the joke.

Barton is survived by his wife, Allison Barton; their children, Noah and Brooklyn; his parents, Michael and Deborah Barton; and his sister, Katie Barton.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, Mo. A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at The Journey-Tower Grove, 2833 South Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a GoFundMe account that friends of the family established to help support the Barton children.