We send you our warmest holiday season greetings. There is much to tell about this past year's activities. Our small foundation has formed strong alliances in the past year. Our ability to help those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been amplified and we are moving forward in both our research and education missions. Yet there is still much to do and we are counting on your support!
The proudest moment in PERF's 14-year history occurred last August. The occasion was the establishment of the Alvin Grancell-Mary Burns Chair in the Rehabilitative Sciences. This step is so important because it assures that PERF's research activities will have a permanent home. An alliance with the Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute (REI) has been agreed upon. They will administer this Chair, which will fund the activities of a research scientist in perpetuity, allowing him or her to devote full time to rehabilitation research. Please take a look at the enclosed report that REI has composed. It contains interviews with Mary Burns, Alvin Grancell and Dr. Rich Casaburi (who, it is planned, will be the first occupant of the Chair) on the occasion of the establishment of the Chair. But our work is not over.
To date, the major funding for this project has come from the generous donation of Alvin Grancell, one of the founding members of PERF. Scores of supporters of PERF have stepped forward to add to the Chair fund (both Rich Casaburi and Mary Burns have contributed to the cause with sizable donations). But, since the funds disbursed to actively support the Chair can only come from interest on the Chair fund (so that the principal is never touched), more money needs to be collected before the Chair can be fully activated. We are hoping for your continuing generous support of this, our most important project.
The reason why the Harbor-UCLA REI is a perfect place to establish the Chair in the Rehabilitation Sciences is the existence of the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, a 4000 square foot building on the Harbor-UCLA campus in Torrance, California. Under the direction of Dr. Rich Casaburi, this facility has geared up its activities in the past year. Among the achievements:
· Studies have been performed to demonstrate the value of oxygen therapy in facilitating the ability to exercise. New, lightweight devices are being tested which will make it easier for those with COPD to increase their activities. A major research project has just been started to determine whether all COPD patients should receive oxygen while they take part in pulmonary rehabilitation.
· Drugs to build muscles and, thereby, improve strength are being investigated. A large study comparing testosterone administration to that of strength-building exercises in men with COPD is almost completed. An investigation of an orally administered testosterone-like drug is underway. A study that will determine whether women with COPD benefit from testosterone supplementation is in the planning stages. An appetite-stimulating drug has been found effective in increasing the body weight of underweight COPD patients.
· New and better bronchodilator drugs are being investigated. We are working with the pharmaceutical industry to bring these drugs to market.
· The lessons learned in pulmonary rehabilitation are being applied to other diseases. Improved ways to rehabilitate patients with AIDS, kidney failure, prostate cancer and the frail elderly are being sought.
· Doctors are being trained in rehabilitation. In the past year, three scientists from abroad have come to the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center for training. Six pulmonary medicine trainees at Harbor-UCLA have gained exposure to rehabilitation science.
· The Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center has started to serve as a focus for area pulmonary rehabilitation professionals. A "Rehabilitation Consortium" has been established in conjunction with the California Society for Pulmonary Rehabilitation and regular meetings are being held.
· PERF members continue to be active in spreading the word locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Brian Tiep, Dr. Rich Casaburi and I have spoken at many major scientific meetings, including ones in Italy, Japan, Israel, Spain, Denmark, England and Iceland (yes, Iceland!) in the past year. Exciting recent developments have been Rich Casaburi's election as Pulmonary Physician representative to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the approval of a symposium chaired by Brian Tiep and Rich Casaburi titled "Advances in Oxygen Therapy" that will be presented at the American Thoracic Society meeting next Spring.
· The Second Wind newsletter continues to publish monthly - we never run out of interesting information to pass along. Our website is at www.perf2ndwind.org and it contains a wealth of information for both patients and rehabilitation specialists.
Through it all, PERF runs a lean operation. Our only overhead costs are the basics: telephone, printing, postage, Internet, etc. All members of the PERF Board of Directors donate their time. An office and secretarial help are also donated. No one is paid. PERF operates totally from donations of time and money. Please write your check today. Make it as generous as possible. We are counting on your support.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
Thomas L. Petty, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
University of Colorado and Rush University, Chicago
Board of Directors, Pulmonary Education and Research Foundation