November 18, 2003
Warmest holiday wishes to you and yours. We hope your year has been productive, happy and healthy. PERF, the Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation, has had a banner year and we are eager to bring you up to date.
Many of you have visited our website (www.perf2ndwind.org). For those of you who haven't, I hope you will sign on soon; you have a treat in store. Our Webmaster, Dr. Janos Porszasz, has done a sterling job in constructing a state-of-the-art information resource for the layman and the pulmonary professional alike. We have archived an extensive catalog of our newsletter, the Second Wind. There are several years of "Letters from Tom" easily accessible, making the wit and wisdom of Dr. Tom Petty available to all. We've tried to feature publications concerning new developments in COPD therapy. Of course, the heart and soul of our educational program is Mary Burns. Even after many years of composing the Second Wind, she always comes up with fresh, informative material.
We aren't the only ones who think that the educational mission of PERF is extraordinarily successful. Last week, Dr. Brian Tiep, a founding member of our Board of Directors, attended an award ceremony in Orlando, Florida. PERF was awarded a Governors Community Service Award by the CHEST Foundation for its public service activities. The CHEST Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians, a prominent pulmonary medicine society with over 15,000 physician members. The award came with a $5000 grant, which will be plowed back into making our operations more efficient. We will upgrade so that all our publishing work can be done in-house. no more trips to the printer!
There has been progress on the research front, as well. The Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center on the Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute campus has accelerated the pace of its investigations. Our goal is to leave no stone unturned in seeking new therapeutic approaches for COPD. We are conducting studies investigating new bronchodilators, a muscle building drug, a treatment for anemia in COPD, a low density gas that makes it easier to breathe during exercise and even a drug that may regrow lung tissue. We've recently had studies published in excellent scientific journals, including one that showed that oxygen given during rehabilitation programs (even to people for whom oxygen is not usually prescribed) makes rehabilitation more effective. Another milestone was the publication of an ingenious new way to perform tests to determine why people have reduced exercise tolerance. Our resident exercise testing guru, Dr. Porszasz, has even been encouraged to patent this technique.
Our Research Chair, the Alvin Grancell/Mary Burns Chair in the Rehabilitative Sciences, is coming along well, although not fully funded. I am in the second year of a five year term as occupant of this Chair and can unequivocally attest that it is succeeding at its goal "to enable a pulmonary scientist to focus more fully on research pursuits". An unrivaled opportunity presented itself in the fall of 2002. The National Institutes of Health, recognizing that it had long underemphasized its research program in COPD, decided to fund a group of seven sites around the United States to perform studies aimed at perfecting new therapies for COPD. Most studies evaluating new therapies cannot be done without involving a large number of patients; too many for a single research center to enroll. This group, the COPD Clinical Research Network would be charged with designing studies and then performing them as a group. Because I was able to devote nearly full time to the process of composing the application and because of our strong record in COPD research, our application was successful. This clearly is our greatest research achievement and our greatest research challenge. We will be heavily involved in this network for the next five years, straining the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center at its seams. Meetings of this collaborative group have already begun. We are encouraging the group to consider projects of our own design, though there are enough good ideas to keep us going for many years. We will value your encouragement and support in this important new endeavor.
We would very much appreciate your help in furthering the work of the Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation. We run on a very small budget. Remember that none of the PERF Board is compensated for its work. This is our only fund appeal for this year, so we encourage you to donate what you can.
We send our very best wishes for the holiday season and for 2004. I convey greetings from Mary Burns and other members of our Board including Dr. Tom Petty, who has been ill but is definitely on the mend. His interest and contributions to pulmonary research have not slackened. We hope the New Year will bring good things your way.
Richard Casaburi, Ph.D., M.D.
President, Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation
Alvin Grancell/Mary Burns Chair in the Rehabilitative Sciences
Medical Director, Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center
Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute
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