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Archives for Pulmonology

UPMC Performs 100 Lung Transplants for Eighth Consecutive Year

In 2013, the UPMC Lung Transplantation Program performed 100 lung transplants, an achievement that has set apart the program for eight consecutive years. This number exceeds many other transplant centers, making UPMC one of the most experienced lung transplantation programs in the country, with outcomes that continue to meet national standards.

The UPMC Lung Transplantation Program works within the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center to provide exceptional care for patients with life-threatening lung diseases.

For more information, download the UPMC Lung Transplantation Program Referral Guide here.

Lung Lesions of TB Variable, Independent Whether Infection is Active or Latent, Says Pitt Study

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 15, 2013 – The lung lesions in an individual infected with tuberculosis (TB) are surprisingly variable and independent of each other, despite whether the patient has clinically active or latent disease, according to a new animal study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online today in Nature Medicine, could point the way to new vaccines to prevent the hard-to-treat infection.

More than 30 percent of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, yet only 5 to 10 percent of those infected develop active, contagious disease with symptoms of coughing, chest pain, night sweats and weight loss. Most have asymptomatic, or “latent,” infections that are not contagious, but could become active years later.

When the lungs become infected with M. tuberculosis, the body’s immune system walls off the bacteria into lesions called granulomas, explained co-senior investigator JoAnne Flynn, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, Pitt School of Medicine.

“It’s long been thought that the patient with a weakened immune system or some other immune vulnerability was more likely to develop active disease,” Dr. Flynn said. “But to our surprise, our study showed that every infected individual has a collection of granulomas, some containing live bacteria and some that are sterile because the immune system has killed all the bacteria. So in this sense, there’s no such thing as a latent or active granuloma.”

For the study, the research team infected monkeys with TB and then carefully tracked the granulomas that developed in the lungs. They determined that each granuloma starts with only one bacterium, and that bacterial replication continued for about four weeks before the body counters with an adaptive immune response to kill off the invaders.

“This response was sufficient to kill all the bacteria and sterilize some granulomas, but bacteria persisted in others and spread to create new granulomas,” Dr. Flynn said. “You need only one granuloma to ‘go bad’ in order to get active TB.”

Even when an animal had a severe, active infection, some of their granulomas were sterile, indicating the immune system was capable of killing bacteria, the researchers found.

“We don’t know yet why the immune response produced different results in different lesions,” Dr. Flynn said. “When we develop a deeper understanding of why the immune response produced different results in different lesions, we will be closer to harnessing the right mechanisms to develop effective vaccines to prevent TB.”

In addition to co-senior author Sarah Fortune, M.D., of Harvard University, the research team included Philana Ling Lin, M.D., of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; M. Teresa Coleman, and Amy J. Myers, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Christopher B. Ford, Ph.D., of Harvard University and the Broad Institute; Richa Gawande, of Harvard University; and Thomas Ioerger, Ph.D., and James Sacchettini, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University.

The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Otis Childs Trust of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation; National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants HL106804, AI094745, DP2 0D001378 and AI076217; the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant DAIT BAA-05-10, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Physician Scientist Early Career Award, the Harvard Merit Fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases Fellowship, the Robert A. Welch Foundation and the Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professorship.

UPMC Hospitals Earn Top Quality Recognition from The Joint Commission

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 4, 2013 – Six UPMC hospitals were named Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America. UPMC Bedford Memorial, UPMC Horizon, UPMC McKeesport, UPMC Mercy, UPMC Northwest and UPMC Passavant were recognized by The Joint Commission for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions.

There are 1,099 hospitals, or nearly half of The Joint Commission accredited hospitals in the nation, earning this distinction for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measures performance. The hospitals are recognized for their achievement on the following measure sets:

  • UPMC Bedford Memorial – Pneumonia, Surgical Care
  • UPMC Horizon – Heart Attack, Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Surgical Care
  • UPMC McKeesport – Heart Attack, Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Surgical Care
  • UPMC Mercy – Heart Attack, Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Surgical Care
  • UPMC Northwest – Heart Attack, Pneumonia, Surgical Care
  • UPMC Passavant – Heart Attack, Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Surgical Care

The ratings are based on an aggregation of accountability measures reported to The Joint Commission during the 2012 calendar year. Each measure represents an evidence-based practice, such as giving aspirin at arrival for heart attack patients and giving antibiotics one hour before surgery.

“Our continuing, systemwide efforts to provide our patients with the right care at the right time is reflected in this honor,” said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer at UPMC. “But more important than any award is the fact that evidence-based medicine is producing better care for patients at all of our hospitals.”

“UPMC and all the Top Performer hospitals have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to quality improvement and they should be proud of their achievement,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.P.P., M.P.H., president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission. “We have much to celebrate this year. Nearly half of our accredited hospitals have attained or nearly attained the Top Performer distinction. This truly shows that we are approaching a tipping point in hospital quality performance that will directly contribute to better health outcomes for patients.”

University of Pittsburgh Pulmonary Experts to Present at Pa. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Conference

The PA-IPF Advocacy Event will be held in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Pulmonary experts from the University of Pittsburgh Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease, Geisinger Health System, Penn State/Hershey Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple Lung Center will present new research findings and medical advice to assist physicians in the management and treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Kevin F. Gibson, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director, Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease
University of Pittsburgh

Kathleen O. Lindell, PhD, RN
Research Assistant Professor
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Quality of Life Coordinator, Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease
University of Pittsburgh

The target audience for this conference is primary care physicians, pulmonologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses.

Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel
4650 Lindle Road
Harrisburg, PA  17111

To receive the discounted room rate for an overnight stay, please indicate that you are with the University of Pittsburgh Simmons Group when making reservations.

For more information, or to register online, visit the Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences page.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 4.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) TM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Other health care professionals are awarded 0.4 continuing education units (CEU’s), which are equal to 4.2 contact hours.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Therapy Research Presented by UPCI at International Cancer Conference

ATLANTA, Sept. 25, 2013 – Two new University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) studies offer promising research avenues for preventing debilitating lung-scarring in people who undergo radiation therapy for cancer. The findings were presented today at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 55th Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

Radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis occurs in some patients years after radiation therapy has concluded and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. In laboratory studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UPCI researchers found that genetic differences could be the reason some patients develop severe fibrosis and others are not afflicted.

In a separate study, the researchers found that a sulfoxide compound discovered at Pitt that exhibits antioxidant properties can significantly decrease pulmonary fibrosis in mice exposed to chest radiation, a model comparable to that of patients undergoing cancer treatment.

“More and more people are surviving cancer, so we are increasing our focus on not only curing cancer but also improving quality of life long after treatment,” said Ronny Kalash, B.S., a fourth-year medical student in UPCI’s Department of Radiation Oncology, who will be presenting the research. “All our work is geared toward making aggressive, targeted radiation therapy a safer treatment option so that patients are free of cancer but also able to breathe comfortably for the remainder of their lives.”

Kalash and his fellow researchers tested two different strains of mice, one that is very prone to fibrosis and another that is not. On examination, the researchers found that several genes activated differently between mouse strains following radiation therapy.

“These differences indicate changes in how cells turn on and off production of protective and damage-repairing proteins in irradiated lungs of fibrosis-resistant, compared to fibrosis-prone, mice,” said Kalash. “This is a stepping stone toward determining which patients may be more prone to fibrosis and creating a therapeutic treatment to help prevent sensitive patients from developing it.”

In the second study, the researchers tested a water-soluble antioxidant, called MMS-350, which was created by Peter Wipf, Ph.D., distinguished university professor in Pitt’s Department of Chemistry and co-leader of the Molecular Therapeutics & Drug Discovery Program at UPCI.

Fibrosis-prone mice were given the antioxidant in their drinking water beginning 60 to 80 days after radiation therapy. Nearly 200 days after radiation exposure – the point at which the mice normally would develop fibrosis similar to a cancer patient – researchers found that mice developed significantly less pulmonary fibrosis than the control group.

“This is a very exciting finding, especially since the antioxidant is water-soluble and easy to administer,” said Kalash. “In general, antioxidants have been shown to have protective effects and help with the healing process. Further investigations will tell us whether MMS-350 could be useful in clinical applications.”

Additional co-authors on the genetic research include Hebist Berhane, B.S., Julie Goff, Ph.D., Tracy M. Dixon, B.S., Xichen Zhang, M.D., Michael W. Epperly, Ph.D., and Joel S. Greenberger, M.D., all of UPCI’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

In addition to the authors listed above, the MMS-350 research was co-authored by Darcy Franicola, B.S., of UPCI’s Department of Radiation Oncology, and Melissa M. Sprachman, Ph.D., and Peter Wipf, Ph.D., both of Pitt’s Department of Chemistry.

Funding for both projects was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant U19-A1068021. The genetic study also received funding from NIH grant 2R01CA119927-08A1.

Three National Leaders in Sickle Cell Treatment, Research Join UPMC

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 19, 2013 – Three national leaders in the research and treatment of sickle cell disease have joined the UPMC Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program, marking a major commitment by UPMC to improving the care of patients with this devastating genetic disease and promoting research toward a cure.

The recruitment of Solomon Ofori-Acquah, Ph.D., Laura DeCastro, M.D., and Gregory J. Kato, M.D., strengthens a team headed by Enrico Novelli, M.D., director of the Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program, and Lakshmanan Krishnamurti, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease Program. Their arrival also comes nearly one year after UPMC helped launch a campaign for sickle cell awareness and donations called the Ryan Clark Cure League in partnership with the Steelers’ safety.

The three doctors bring to Pittsburgh a wealth of knowledge about sickle cell disease, in which the body produces red blood cells with abnormal hemoglobin that take on a sickle shape and can block the flow of healthy, oxygenated blood to the body’s organs and tissues.

“These doctors join a very strong multidisciplinary team that includes experts in hematology and pulmonology and provides patients not only the latest clinical therapies, but also access to cutting-edge research in blood diseases,” said Edward Chu, M.D., chief of the UPMC Division of Hematology/Oncology and deputy director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Dr. Kato, who most recently served as director of the Sickle Cell Vascular Disease Section at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will serve as director of the UPMC Sickle Cell Disease Research Center of Excellence. Dr. Ofori-Acquah will lead a newly created Center for Translational and International Hematology, which will guide new research programs and partnerships with sickle cell disease programs in Africa. Dr. DeCastro will partner with Dr. Novelli to direct the adult sickle cell clinical programs, lead the efforts to develop novel clinical and translational research programs, and serve as clinical director of the benign hematology program at UPMC to expand clinical programs in hemostasis and thrombosis. In addition she will serve as director of benign hematology for the Institute for Transfusion Medicine and UPMC CancerCenter, and director of clinical translational research for the Sickle Cell Disease Research Center of Excellence. 

“It’s incredibly special not only to the sickle cell community but also to the national research community to bring three of the brightest minds on this disease together in one place,” said Mark Gladwin, M.D., director of the Pittsburgh  Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI), supported by both UPMC and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine.

An estimated 2 million Americans carry one of the sickle cell genes. One of every 500 African-American births and one of every 36,000 Spanish-American births carry the trait, and its inherited blood disorders also affect people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. Millions of people worldwide suffer from sickle cell disease, anemia or pain and other symptoms resulting from this disease, for which there is one Food and Drug Administration-approved drug. 

Since 2003, Dr. Kato has conducted clinical-translational research in adults with sickle cell disease at the NIH. His work has advanced the understanding of phenotypic variation in the disease and focuses on biomarkers and mediators of vascular dysfunction in sickle cell disease, particularly those associated with pulmonary hypertension and leg ulceration. He also has led early-phase testing of investigational drugs for sickle cell disease.

Dr. Kato earned an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work at NIH and elsewhere. Prior to joining the NHLBI, Dr. Kato was an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, as well as the Division of Pediatric Oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Dr. Ofori-Acquah joined Pitt’s Division of Hematology-Oncology on Aug. 1 as a visiting associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Translational and International Hematology, part of the VMI. His recent work soon to be published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation has provided a paradigm shift in scientific understanding of acute chest syndrome, a devastating lung complication of sickle cell disease. He has received a major, five-year grant from the NIH to pursue this new avenue of research in acute chest syndrome, which promises to deliver a new line of therapy to manage this life-threatening complication.

Dr. Ofori-Acquah had been an assistant professor at Emory University in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology and founding director of the Center for Endothelial Biology.

A native of Ghana, Dr. Ofori-Acquah studied medical laboratory sciences majoring in hematology and blood transfusion at Bromley College of Technology in Kent, England, before earning his master’s degree in biomolecular organization at Birkbeck College, University of London. He earned his doctorate in molecular genetics from King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London.

Dr. DeCastro was an associate professor of medicine with the Division of Hematology in the Department of Medicine at Duke University before coming to UPMC. She earned her medical degree at Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and did her residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She completed a fellowship in hematology oncology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Since 1999, Dr. DeCastro has been the clinical director of the Duke Adult Sickle Cell Center, where she developed and coordinated the delivery of multidisciplinary clinical care to adult sickle cell patients. Her major research interests have been in investigating the impact on sickle cell disease on end-organ damage, on investigating the psychosocial issues relating to sickle cell disease, and on developing novel treatments for sickle cell disease. She has been the principal investigator (PI) and Co-PI of more than 20 NIH- and industry-sponsored clinical studies focusing on sickle cell disease as well as other hemoglobinopathies.

Risk of Dementia Doubles for Elderly Patients Hospitalized with Infections, Pitt Study Finds

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 30, 2013 – Elderly patients who were hospitalized with infections, such as pneumonia, were more than twice as likely to develop dementia than those who did not have an infection, according to a University of Pittsburgh study, which also found that patients with dementia may be more susceptible to infection. 

The results of the study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, are available online and published in the September 1st edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“These findings explain in part why seemingly healthy older adults progress to a state of disability following infection and how a single episode of infection may lead to cognitive decline in older adults,” said Sachin Yende, M.D., senior author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Most people think infection is a short-term illness, but patients who look and feel recovered may have downstream consequences.”

The researchers examined data from 5,888 participants over age 65, in four areas: Forsyth County, North Carolina; Sacramento County, California; Washington County, Maryland; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1989 through 1999; 639 were hospitalized with pneumonia at least once.  Pneumonia is the most common infection leading to hospitalization in the United States, but the study found that any type of infection in the elderly can accelerate the onset of dementia.  

Dementia is a broad term for loss of memory and other cognitive skills severe enough to impact daily life. Dementia, which is not part of normal aging, is caused by damage to brain cells that affect thinking, behavior and feelings.

For reasons that the researchers do not yet understand, patients who showed signs of impaired cognitive function before their hospitalizations had an 11 percent higher risk for pneumonia and other infections than those with healthy cognitive function. 

“Even a small change in cognition predisposed patients to pneumonia. Once they had an infection, they were at a higher risk for worsening of cognitive function and dementia. This cycle could perpetuate and ultimately lead to disability and loss of independence,” said Faraaz Shah, M.D., lead author of the study.

The researchers stress that future research should examine mechanisms for the bidirectional relationship between dementia and infection to develop interventions that reduce infection and its consequent disability.

Other collaborators on this study include Faraaz Ali Shah, M.D., Francis Pike, Ph.D., Karina Alvarez, M.S., Derek Angus, M.D., M.P.H., Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., Oscar Lopez, M.D., and Judith Tate, M.D., Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; Vishesh Kaur, M.D., M.P.H., Anthony Wilsdon, Ph.D., Vincent S. Fan, M.D., M.P.H., and David Au, M.D., M.S., of the University of Washington; Mark Avdalovic, M.D., M.A.S., F.C.C.P., of the University of California, Davis; Jerry Krishnan, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Illinois; Nadia Hansel, M.D., M.P.H, of Johns Hopkins University; and R. Graham Barr, M.D., D.PH., of Columbia University Medical Center.

The research was funded by NHLBI grant HL080295.

UPCI Oncologist Recognized for Lung Cancer Research that Promises New Therapies

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 16, 2013 – Medical oncologist Timothy Burns, M.D., Ph.D., has been recognized for his work in lung cancer research with the American Lung Association (ALA) Lung Cancer Discovery Award and the LUNGevity Career Development Award, totaling $500,000 over three years.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide. Recent advances in the treatment of lung cancer have come from the recognition that lung cancer is not a single disease, but rather a collection of distinct cancers driven by cancer genes, called oncogenes, that cause the tumors to grow.

“This knowledge has led to the development of targeted therapies for a small percentage of patients, and we think this approach has great promise in our push for personalized medicine,” said Dr. Burns, assistant professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, partner with the UPMC CancerCenter.

For the ALA grant, Burns will receive $200,000 over two years for research to develop novel therapies for patients with certain oncogene-dependent lung cancers.

The three-year, $300,000 LUNGevity Career Development grant is for research into the development of novel therapies for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. In these patients, a protein called KRAS often becomes inappropriately turned on and causes a tumor to grow. Patients with KRAS-mutated lung cancer have a poor prognosis, and no current therapies target this critical oncogene.

UPMC Again Earns Top-10 Spot on U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals

PITTSBURGH, July 16, 2013UPMC clinches the 10th place in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals for the second year in a row – again making it the highest-ranked medical center in Pennsylvania.
“This prestigious recognition speaks to the skill and commitment of UPMC physicians, nurses and staff as they continue to provide exceptional care to our community. UPMC is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our patients, and we are honored when our excellence in health care is recognized,” said Elizabeth Concordia, executive vice president of UPMC and president of the Hospital and Community Services Division. “We are proud that patients continue to choose us to deliver world-class care right here in western Pennsylvania.”
Nationally, UPMC is ranked for excellence in 15 of the 16 specialty areas, and is among the top 10 hospitals in eight specialties: Ear, Nose & Throat; Gastroenterology; Geriatrics; Gynecology; Neurology and Neurosurgery; Psychiatry; Pulmonology and Rheumatology.
Last month, U.S. News named its 2013 Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, on which Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC ranked 10th. This year marks UPMC’s 14th appearance on the Honor Roll.
“UPMC’s national ranking highlights our unique combination of superb medical care, a leading health insurance plan and close ties to one of the nation’s best medical schools at the University of Pittsburgh,” added Steven Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical and scientific officer, UPMC.  “We are proud to be a leader on the U.S. News Honor Roll — but, most importantly, to be leading the way in developing new and better ways of taking care of patients.”

New England Journal of Medicine Publishes Pitt/UPMC Study Finding Potential Asthma Treatment

Gladwin, Kaminski, Student Research Receive Honors at International Pulmonology Conference

PITTSBURGH, May 21, 2013 – An experimental, lab-made molecule was able to stick to certain inflammatory proteins and reduce acute breathing problems among people with a type of moderate-to-severe asthma, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, coinciding with their presentation of the study in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society.
Recent estimates suggest that 24.6 million Americans have asthma, and 10 to 20 percent of them don’t have optimal control of their symptoms despite modern medications, said senior author Sally Wenzel, M.D., professor, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine (PACCM), Pitt School of Medicine, and director, University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at UPMC/University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Effective treatment of persistent, moderate-to-severe asthma has been challenging.
“We suspect that there are different underlying causes that lead to the clinical syndrome of asthma, so different treatment approaches are likely needed depending on what type of asthma a patient has,” she said. “A one-size-fits-all strategy might not, in fact, work for everyone.”
For the Phase IIa trial, the researchers assessed asthma patients who: were taking moderate to high doses of inhaled steroids and airway-opening drugs called long-acting beta agonists; and had high counts of eosinophils, a kind of white cell usually associated with allergy. For 12 weeks, 52 participants received weekly injections of a placebo and 52 others received weekly injections of dupilumab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the activity of signaling molecules involved in inflammation. After four weeks, both groups stopped using their long-acting beta agonist. Between the sixth and ninth weeks, they gradually stopped taking the inhaled steroid.
Three patients in the dupilumab group (5.8 percent) had asthma attacks compared to 23 (44.2 percent) in the placebo group, a reduction of 87 percent. The experimental agent was associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation. Minor irritation at the injection site and of the nose and throat, headache and nausea occurred more frequently in the dupilumab group.
“Our findings suggest that dupilumab holds promise for the treatment of moderate-to-severe asthma,” Dr. Wenzel said. “However, further studies are needed to better define the patients who will do the best with this new approach, as well as longer-term efficacy and safety.”
Added Mark Gladwin, M.D., chief of PACCM: “A major focus of our Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh is personalized or precision medicine, which aims to match a specific treatment to a specific disease, the right approach for the right person. This study highlights the potential of targeting specific molecular pathways in the right patient with asthma.”
The study team included other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh; Colorado Allergy and Asthma Centers, Denver, CO; California Allergy & Asthma Medical Group, Inc., Los Angeles; Peninsula Research Associates, Rolling Hills Estates, CA; Research and Development, Sanofi, Bridgewater, NJ; and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y.
The project was funded by Sanofi and Regeneron.
Sally Wenzel, M.D., talks about her asthma research published today by the New England Journal of Medicine and presented concurrently at the national convention of the American Thoracic Society

Gladwin, Kaminski Awards

The American Thoracic Society, at its International Conference 2013 Awards Session in Philadelphia on Sunday, May 19, presented 12 awards to the leading pulmonology clinicians and researchers. Two of its four honorees for Recognition for Scientific Accomplishments are leaders from the Pitt/UPMC PACCM programs.
Mark Gladwin, M.D., PACCM chief, and director, Pitt’s Vascular Medicine Institute, and Naftali Kaminski, M.D., professor and director,Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Diseases at UPMC, received the scientific awards in a rare 1-2 for a single institution or city. The other winners included Paul Noble, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Timothy Blackwell, M.D., director of PACCM, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Honor for Pitt Student’s Research

In a study highlighted at the American Thoracic Society annual meeting, Pitt researchers linked systemic inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with depression.
For the project, 450 tobacco-exposed patients were given a variety of depression and COPD tests. The researchers found that 49 of 215 (22.8 percent) female participants and 37 of 235 (15.7 percent) of male participants were depressed. Depressive symptoms were most strongly associated with: higher levels of interleukin-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation; lower than expected forced expiratory volume, which is the maximal amount of air that can be exhaled in one second; female sex; and current smoking status.
“Depression has been linked with a number of symptoms and co-morbidities in COPD patients,” said student researcher Hilary Strollo, M.S., a graduate of Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, who is set to present this research project at the meeting at 3:15 p.m., Wednesday, May 22. “Our findings add evidence of a strong relationship between depression and one of the hallmarks of COPD – systemic inflammation – independent of the severity of the disease.”
Ms. Strollo is scheduled to attend an 11:15 a.m. news conference today, May 21, focusing on a handful of research presentations at the annual meeting. The events are held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
ATS contacts are Nathaniel Dunford, 914-815-0503 or ndunford@thoracic.org, and Brian Kell, 516-305-9251 or bkell@thoracic.org. Their press-room telephone numbers are 215-418-2408 and -2409.


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