LA BioMed To Honor Richard Casaburi At Annual Gala May 4

Every year LA BioMed honors a select group of innovative scientists at its Annual Gala, and this year they’re recognizing PERF President Dr. Richard Casaburi as one of three scientists receiving honors.

Dr. Casaburi is founder of the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center at LA BioMed, and his and his colleagues’ work has led to the discovery of innovative therapies through exercise and other muscle-directed interventions that improve the quality of life for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients.

Also honored will be Dr. Ruey-Kang Chang, a pediatric cardiologist who has helped to prevent children’s death from congenital heart disease, arrhythmia and SIDS by creating new inventions to improve the heart health of infants and children.

Dr. Michael Yeaman will be the third recipient of honors for his work discovering and translating innovative approaches to fight drug-resistant infections. He also is the founder of two biotech startups that are refining vaccines and anti-infective biologics to defeat the most deadly infections.

Adding a very moving, personal note to the award is this letter shared by PERF board member Mary Burns, RN, BS:

“The recognition Richard Casaburi is finally receiving from LA BioMed must mean a lot.  However, I suspect that the accolades from those who worked with him, and know him so well, must mean even more.  I can’t add too much to what has already been said except to say how special he has also been in my life.

I still remember that day I came to Harbor-UCLA to discuss pulmonary rehabilitation with Richard and a more senior doctor in response to a suggestion by Brian Tiep. The other doctor said something to the effect that no research had shown that pulmonary rehabilitation was of physical benefit, but that I was a good cheerleader and improved patients’ spirits in the work that I did with them. I told him I disagreed. While patients did benefit socially, they also improved physically, and he just needed to find another way to prove this. Another doctor was horrified when I told him what I had said. He asked, “Do you know who you were talking to?” The doctor who had discounted my theory about pulmonary rehabilitation had a high-profile reputation in the field of pulmonary medicine

But the person who was really great that day was Richard Casaburi. He, an experienced pulmonary researcher, actually listened to the unscientific opinion of a 3-year RN. He came over later and said to me, “Okay, let’s do a study and find out if your pulmonary rehabilitation patients actually do improve.”

Richard found a new way to test this improvement and he did prove patients also improve physically with PR. He made history and his efforts helped to make pulmonary rehabilitation the standard of care around the world. He also changed my life. I owe a great deal to his generosity in letting me be a small part of that effort and will never cease to thank him. I am very pleased that LA BioMed has also finally acknowledged how special he is.”

~ Mary Burns, RN, BS

This year’s gala, called The Spirit Of Innovation, will be held May 4 at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles (a very nice venue), and all are welcome to attend. Please join the community in honoring Drs. Casaburi, Chang, and Yeaman by attending or becoming a sponsor. Click here to purchase tickets.

woman rdiing bike with cast - courtesy Mary Burns
photo courtesy of Mary Burns

Footnote to Mary Burns’ story: Mary was able to achieve 100% participation among her patients, who cooperated with the research protocol established by Dr. Casaburi. One woman in the study broke a bone in her foot, but talked her doctor into putting her into a walking cast so that she could continue in the study. That’s her, in the wonderful picture of her peddling on the bike with a cast on her foot and a big smile on her face!


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