President's Message

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Helping Patients Live Their Lives

December 2014
Thomas Ferkol, MD, MD

Thomas Ferkol, MD

The holidays are a time for reflecting upon those who have touched our lives and continue to inspire us. For many, they are our patients. During my installation at the ATS 2014 International Conference, I introduced all of those in attendance to one of the many children I have treated who made a profound impact on the way I view medicine and our larger mission of improving health worldwide.

I first met this young woman when she was in elementary school 14 years ago. As I arrived late to one of her first visits, she handed me a bill for the time she had to wait. It was then that I learned of her keen sense of humor, but it was a few years later when I learned of her determination.

When she was a high school senior, she embarked on a class trip to Europe. During that time, however, her parents sent us several messages that suggested they were concerned about her health. When she returned, her condition had deteriorated so significantly that she was immediately admitted to the hospital. As she was being transferred to the ward, I asked her: “Was it worth it?”

Looking at me with a mildly puzzled expression, she responded without hesitation: “Absolutely.”

She and many others have taught me that we not only help our patients breathe, as our tagline says, but also help them live their lives.

This vision of preserving and improving the respiratory health of all people globally is also central to the ATS Foundation, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The ATS Foundation accomplishes its mission through strategic investments in the full spectrum of research, education, and training.

Since its inception, the ATS Foundation has awarded $11 million in grants to 183 investigators. With the help of this seed money, these investigators combined have gone on to win $143 million in major grants, and many have published original research in high-impact journals, become principal investigators, and mentored junior faculty. These investigators have contributed greatly to our understanding to the lung diseases, and I am convinced that this research will help patients live their lives.

Every year, the ATS Foundation holds the Funds for the Future Campaign, and this year we are only $120,000 away from our year-end goal, which is $550,000 for research. Please note that all of the donations—100 percent—given to the ATS Foundation are directed to our programs, made possible by the ATS, which supports the Foundation’s administrative expenses. The Funds for the Future Campaign supports:

  • Young Investigators Research Programwhich supports early stage investigators pursuing promising cures and treatments for respiratory patients;
  • Ziskind Clinical Research Scholars Awardswhich recognizes the contributions of outstanding clinical researchers and educators;
  • Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research (MECOR), which strengthens research capacity and leadership in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America;
  • ATS Assembly projects, activities, and awards.

As we all reflect on those patients who have taught us more lessons than we can count, I hope you will join me in making a donation to the ATS Foundation Funds for the Future Campaignwhich supports these great programs that help patients live their lives.

Last Reviewed: September 2017