Welcome from the Founder

Welcome from the Founder

Lung diseases are among the most common and devastating disorders in this country and abroad. Just ask anyone about asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, or pneumonia and you will find references to their own conditions or that of their relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Jesse Roman, MD

Jesse Roman, M.D.
Founder, UofL Lung Health Initiative

Asthma alone affects ten percent of the U.S. population, while lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer death in this country.

Tuberculosis and other pulmonary infections continue to kill millions of innocent victims each year worldwide.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD as it is commonly referred to, is the fourth most common cause of death in the U.S. and the 12th most ‘burdensome’ disease in the world according to a report of the World Health Organization.

Allergies and upper airway disorders are common problems in children and adults alike.

With recent studies linking the growing epidemic of obesity to asthma and other lung disorders, increasing number of emerging pulmonary infections, and persistent threat of air pollutants in inner cities, the prevention, control, and treatment of lung diseases will remain formidable challenges for decades to come.

Kentucky is very much affected by this epidemic. Considering this, and as is characteristic of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine, this organization is not willing to overlook this threat.

Instead, it is engaged in the development of an ambitious initiative to tackle it head on. This bold initiative will join top thought leaders and the best clinicians and scientists with substantial resources from the institution and community partners for the creation of a world-class program that promises to usher in a new era for patient care, education, and research in respiratory health.

A true leap forward, the initiative will join innovative programs under the umbrella of the Lung Health Initiative. This is not your typical academic program; it is a truly revolutionary approach to respiratory health and disease like no other in the country.

The U of L Department of Medicine Lung Health Initiative is comprised of three multidisciplinary programs that come together like hand-in-glove to focus attention to respiratory health and disease.

The first program, termed the Lung Disease Program, centralizes all aspects of healthcare delivery (both inpatient and outpatient) for patients with upper airway, pulmonary, and related thoracic disorders. The program involves an absolute switch in the patient care experience.

It includes specialized initiatives in asthma, COPD, lung cancer, allergy, cystic fibrosis, and lung fibrosis, among many others. Novel programs in the areas of airway dysfunction, interventional pulmonology, lung transplantation, and rehabilitation also form part of this stellar enterprise.

These programs work as units composed of top physicians, researchers, allied health professionals, and community advocates to provide the best quality care focusing on targeted interventions based on information gathered through the newest imaging techniques and novel methods.

Through this initiative, patients have access to newly developed drugs and innovative approaches via well designed clinical trials. Overall, the Lung Disease Program truly revolutionizes the patient care experience, while advancing discovery.

The second program, the Education and Community Advocacy Program focuses on innovative concepts of education, community relations, advocacy, and public health.  The mission of this program is to improve education in respiratory disorders, but also to enhance awareness about opportunities available to change our behavior and environment in order to maintain health.

The third program represents a one-of-a kind research program in wound healing or tissue repair.

Because it is constantly exposed to the environment, the lung is frequently injured by air pollutants. The way in which the lung heals itself is crucial for sustaining respiratory health and this is adequately accomplished most of the time. However, on occasion, the lung does not heal well.

Tobacco and alcohol exposure, malnutrition, air pollution, chronic infection, drugs, and genetics, among other factors, influence the way in which the lung repairs itself after injury. This may lead to inadequate repair creating scar tissue that is irreversible and progressive.

This is the case for emphysema where the excessive production of proteases destroys the lung. In asthma, persistent inflammation of the airways leads to excessive airway dysfunction and bronchospasm. In interstitial lung disorders, the lung heals itself in a 'maladaptive' fashion leading to fibrosis while in pulmonary hypertension, the lung vessels become thickened and constricted leading to excessive pressure inside the vasculature.

Outstanding investigators at U of L have already made great strides in this area and related areas, but we are establishing a world-class program focused on wound healing with the intention of using the newest technological advances in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and other fields to engage in translational research that will lead to new safe and effective treatment strategies.

Success is assured by the rapid growth of this initiative, the many superb members of the team, and its multidisciplinary approach that ensures the collaboration of top clinicians, scientists, ethicists, health care advocates, and innovators to see this through.

Success is further assured by the fact that the UofL Department of Medicine Lung Health Initiative incorporates the very best of successful programs currently available at U of L such as the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Pediatrics and Medicine, the Lung Transplantation Program at Jewish Hospital, the Sleep Center on the main campus and at the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Interstitial Lung Diseases Program at the UofL Health Care Outpatient Center, and the Lung Cancer Program at the James Brown Cancer Center, among others.

In this fashion, the Lung Health Initiative serves as an umbrella program working towards the sole purpose of improving respiratory health.

It is no wonder the UofL leadership is excited about Lung Health Initiative. This is a one-stop shopping strategy for all of your respiratory healthcare needs. This is my kind of center - your center. A true home for patients, relatives, healthcare providers, scientists, advocates, and learners alike.

Jesse Roman, M.D.

Founding Director - Lung Health Initiative
Chairman, U of L Department of Medicine