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LeRoy Graham: Pediatric Pulmonologist Builds Nonprofit for Underserved

June 2014 
LeRoy Graham, MD

LeRoy Graham, MD

Having long distinguished himself as a skilled and dedicated clinician, pediatric pulmonologist LeRoy Graham, MD, has taken his commitment to helping others to a new level as founder of a nonprofit health center Not One More Life.

Dr. Graham’s 10-year-old organization partners with Atlanta schools and communities of faith to increase patient access to pulmonary services and to educate primary care professionals about the subspecialty. He and his volunteers educate and screen at-risk populations, partnering with epidemiologists to track outcomes.

“I have been heartened to see many advances over the course of my career, but it means nothing if we can’t make a difference in the lives of the hardest-hit patients,” says Dr. Graham, who is expanding his efforts to help disadvantaged populations as project leader of Bridge Atlanta Medical Center, which he will direct when it opens in 2015.

The organization provides 1,500 primary care physicians with a wide range of continuing medical education opportunities to help them understand diagnosis and treatment guidelines. And Dr. Graham and his colleagues have built a free clinic that provides pulmonary services to hundreds of patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access. The nonprofit has been so successful that it is being replicated in 19 other cities.

He single-handedly implemented an innovative vision for improving asthma outcomes in Atlanta.— David Gozal, MD

Though he now divides his time between seeing patients at Georgia Pediatric Pulmonary Associates and training students as clinical faculty at Morehouse School of Medicine, at the end of this year, Dr. Graham plans to focus solely on his charitable pursuits.

“I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to start a new and meaningful chapter at this point in my career,” he says. “At the age of 60, I think I am more excited about what’s on the horizon than I was in medical school.”

Dr. Graham earned his medical degree from Georgetown University, and in 1979, he joined the Army to serve as a physician. He completed a residency in pediatrics at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center (FAMC) in Aurora, CO. While enlisted, he spent the first part of his career training at various posts in the U.S. and abroad, directing pediatric services at military hospitals in Seoul, Colorado, and Kentucky. He also completed a pediatric pulmonology fellowship at the University of Colorado in 1986–89 and a research fellowship at the Webb Waring Lung Institute in Colorado Springs in 1987–89.

In 1990, his infantry division was deployed to Iraq for nine months during Operation Desert Storm, where he distinguished himself as a brigade surgeon who later received the Bronze Star and Combat Medical Badge. After returning home, Dr. Graham retired his commission as lieutenant colonel and relocated with his family to Georgia to enter private practice.

“When I left the Army, I was struck by the economic and health care disparities that exist outside the military,” Dr. Graham says. “I quickly learned that the poor and minorities are most at risk for lung disorders, and made it my mission to break the pattern of helplessness by promoting social cognizance and self-efficacy.”

An ATS member since 2004, Dr. Graham his experience as a member of the Clinicians Advisory Committee. “That the ATS is intentionally focusing on health care inequities is really refreshing,” he says. “What an incredible opportunity for the field’s leaders to make a substantial difference.”

ATS Vice President David Gozal, MD, is a longtime colleague of Dr. Graham’s. “He’s an outstanding clinician and community-driven activist,” Dr. Gozal says. “He single-handedly implemented an innovative vision for improving asthma outcomes in Atlanta.”

As he shifts gears professionally, Dr. Graham will further explore the intersection of faith and medicine—possibly by writing a book on the subject—as well as continuing to support his church and spend time with family.

Last Reviewed: September 2017