Roman, U of L to host 'Fibrosis Across the Species' conference

Researchers to discuss deadly lung disease affecting horses, dogs, cats, humans.
Roman, U of L to host 'Fibrosis Across the Species' conference

Hosted by the U of L Department of Medicine, researchers will meet in Louisville for the "Fibrosis Across the Species" conference to discuss and study pulmonary fibrosis and its effects on humans and animals

Human lung disease researchers and veterinarians will meet April 27-29 at The Brown Hotel in Louisville for the "Fibrosis Across Species" workshop being convened by the Westie Foundation of America (WFA) and hosted by the University of Louisville's Medical Center and its Equine Center.

Led by U of L Department of Medicine Chairman Dr. Jesse Roman, the unique conference takes place just days prior to the 140th running of the world famous Kentucky Derby.

This unusual combination of human and veterinary scientists is tasked with creating a road map for comparative research in PF. Comparative research – or research that compares human disease to similar diseases in animals – has been used successfully in the treatment of cancer and, in fact, there is a comparative research division at the National Cancer Institute.

"We are concerned about the growing incidence and prevalence of Pulmonary Fibrosis and realize that research done the customary way has limitations," Roman, a human PF researcher, said. "Studying animals, in particular horses and dogs, may allow us to better understand the underlying causes of this lung disease and how to best tackle finding life-saving treatments for all affected species."

Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a little known lung disease among most of the public, yet the disease claims as many human lives each year as breast cancer. In addition to horses, the disease is also known to affect cats, and dogs, especially terrier breeds of dog like the West Highland White Terrier (WHWT).

There are no approved drugs for the disease in the United States, though a drug has been approved in Japan, the European Union and Canada.

"We are pleased to convene this stellar team of scientists who will review and compare fibrotic disease in animals and humans and pave the way for major discovery," Bebe Pinter, CEO of the Westie Foundation of America said.

The "Fibrosis Across Species" meeting will build on the success of a 2007 meeting, also convened by the WFA,that brought together human and veterinary scientists to discuss similarities between the WHWT and human forms of PF.

The scientific paper from the 2007 meeting was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. The paper identifies similarities across species and makes strong suggestions for a path forward. One of the experts’ recommendations is the convening of a meeting that fits the mold of the Fibrosis Across Species meeting.

Many of the key researchers in that meeting will be leading the Louisville meeting along with key advocacy organizations, along with the WFA.

► For a full agenda for the meeting and to learn more, please visit

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