We send our best wishes for the holiday season. We hope your year has been happy and healthy. This is the time of year we update you on our work on behalf of COPD patients and ask for your support going forward.
The Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation (PERF) has been in existence for about 35 years. We’ve focused on improving the lives of those with COPD and other lung diseases. We particularly need to honor four people who have been with the Foundation from the very beginning. Mary Burns, always the heart of the organization, who saw the need for an independent organization to promote the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation. Alvin Grancell, whose wife was stricken with COPD and saw first hand how she benefitted from Mary’s pulmonary rehabilitation program and became PERF’s Vice President and most generous donor. Jean Hughes, who faithfully served as our treasurer, until she recently stepped down. Brian Tiep, an eminent pulmonologist, who lent his expertise as Medical Advisor and then as member of the Board of Directors. Although not present at the birth of PERF, we need to express appreciation to Pete Pettler, who has taken time from his busy law practice to keep our Foundation on the right side of legal issues for a great many years. On the other end of the spectrum in terms of longevity of service is Dr. Robert Chang, newly recruited to our Board. Dr. Chang is an outstanding pulmonologist and has served as Medical Director of the outstanding pulmonary rehabilitation program at Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital. Welcome, Bob!
An important event in the history of PERF was its linkage to the group of investigators affiliated with Harbor UCLA Medical Center. This led to the founding of the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center as part of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. This group has helped to investigate the scientific basis of pulmonary rehabilitation, publishing hundreds of papers relevant to the principles and practice of care for COPD patients. This year, the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute was renamed The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation. Each year The Institute has a celebration at which new members of its “Legends” of The Institute are named. This November, I was honored to be inducted to the group of “Legends” of The Institute, in recognition of my long years of commitment to COPD research. The honor really belonged to the research effort of a large number of individuals…and to PERF itself.
Our research effort would stagnate without new blood to keep us going. Trainees are the lifeblood of any research group. Over the years we have played host to scores of physicians from this country and from overseas who have wanted to learn about COPD and rehabilitation science, and then to go home to benefit their local communities. This year, as always, we have had many of these visiting scientists as part of our team, including Drs. Fang Lin, Dongxing Zhao, and Wei Yuan.
With PERF’s help and Fellow’s Fund established by Alvin Grancell we have been able to recruit several post-doctoral scientists to the program at The Lundquist Institute. We currently have two outstanding individuals working with us. Dr. Asghar Abbasi has been studying immune system aspects of COPD and hopes to elucidate the benefits of exercise training on signaling pathways that modulate metabolism and the immune system to exert beneficial effects in patients suffering from chronic respiratory disease. His support from PERF allowed him to compete for (and win) a Fellowship award from the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. Dr. Nick Tiller joined us recently. Nick’s interesting achievement is that he is an ultra-marathon runner. His initial work will investigate mitochondrial function in COPD and its role in atherosclerosis in COPD patients as we look to explain why patients with lung disease have and elevated risk of cardiovascular events.
PERF Board members have lent their hands to attempts to improve availability of pulmonary rehabilitation. It is a sad fact that the vast majority of COPD patients will not have access to this most beneficial therapy. Chris Garvey is leading a multi-organization group attempting to boost reimbursement for pulmonary rehabilitation…a key step towards improving availability.
Our web committee (Harry Rossiter, Anita Gash, Pete Pettler and Mary Burns) have worked hard to remodel and update the website to make it even more informative and easy-to-use. I hope you’ve enjoyed our regular blog posts; if you’re not receiving them now, please sign up to have them delivered to your inbox. We are also available on our website to answer your questions.
This is the part of the letter where we ask for your support. This is our annual appeal for your donations: if you think PERF is a worthy cause, please consider contributing for the benefit of the COPD community here and worldwide. Our overhead is very low (<10%). I can assure you that your donation will be used efficiently to promote research and education in the fields of rehabilitation and COPD. All of our Board members contribute their services; none is paid for the work they do. Your donations are fully tax deductible and will be gratefully acknowledged in writing. We hope to hear from you.
We wish you and yours all the best for the holiday season and wish you a healthy and happy New Year.
Richard Casaburi, Ph.D., M.D.
President, Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation
Alvin Grancell/Mary Burns Chair in the Rehabilitative Sciences
Professor of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine
Medical Co-Director, Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center
The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Research at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center