Although Dr. Robert Clifford spends most of his time as a pediatrician treating sick kids in Charleston, his overseas mission work providing medical care to orphans in third-world countries has won him national recognition.

Read more

More information about the award program and other honorees is available at

Clifford has been named a recipient of the Save the Children Federation’s REAL Award, a distinction “designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for health workers and the lifesaving care they provide globally, as well as in the United States.”

Nine winners, announced Monday, were selected through a combination of nominations, the number of votes cast online by the public and an interview.

Clifford, chairman of the pediatrics departments at Roper and St. Francis hospitals in Charleston and a physician at Coastal Pediatric Associates, has led medical missions in Thailand, Burma, Jordan and Iraq during his career.

“I’ve had the privilege of traveling with him for three different mission trips to serve the Burmese children at two orphanages,” said Diana Glupker, a registered nurse at St. Francis Hospital, who nominated Clifford for the REAL Award. “These are very much third-world countries. Because he’s been seven times, there is a systematic thought process for the next time we go.”

Glupker said Clifford provides urgent care during his missions and also practices preventive medicine by administering antibiotics, de-worming medicine and improving the children’s access to clean water.

“He thinks about what we can do right there on site and what we can do next year and the year after,” she said.

Clifford, a Charleston native, said he was humbled by the nomination and overwhelmed to learn that he won.

“There are so many people who serve in this capacity, many here in town and to win the award was ... very overwhelming. I was very flattered, very honored,” he said.

“There is so much incredible need not only in our own country, but all over the place for good reliable health care. Quite candidly, because my heavenly father has given me so much, I feel compelled to give back,” he said. “That’s really been the motivation and passion behind my missions.”

Clifford graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1996 and serves as a faculty member there.

Each REAL Award recipient wins a one-night trip to Washington for Save the Children Advocacy Day.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.