Miller School Selected for National Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Care Center Network

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has been selected as a member of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Care Center Network and Patient Registry, a designation that will significantly enhance the clinical care provided to patients at UHealth – University of Miami Health System. As part of the Care Center Network (CCN), UHealth physicians will have access to a wealth of resources for both patients and caregivers and will collaborate with 20 other academic institutions across the country to advance the care of patients with pulmonary fibrosis.

“We are honored to become a member of the CCN and to be selected by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF),” said Marilyn Glassberg, M.D., director of the interstitial lung disease program at UHealth, and professor of surgery, pediatrics and medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Miller School. “They have recognized the quality of our programs and the expertise our physicians have in treating patients with fibrotic lung disease.”

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a condition in which lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff and scarred over time. The development of the scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred and grows thicker, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don’t receive enough oxygen. The cause of the fibrosis can be determined in some patients, but in many, there is no known cause. When the cause of the fibrosis is unknown (and certain pathologic or radiographic criteria are met), the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. There is no cure for IPF, but two treatments were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Glassberg, a recognized leader in interstitial lung disease (ILD), has led stem cell research in patients with IPF with the first Phase I/Phase II clinical trial currently in progress. She has also conducted numerous multi-center trials in IPF since 2000 and is one of the National Institutes of Health IPFnet Centers of Excellence since 2008.

The strength of the program, said Glassberg, lies in its multi-disciplinary team and comprehensive approach. “Through our clinical structure and support systems, we are able to provide a comprehensive program that delivers the most advanced care possible, while also exploring new options.”

Glassberg’s group includes UHealth pulmonologist Shirin Shafazand, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, UHealth cardiologist Joel Fishman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiology, UHealth rheumatologist Dana Ascherman, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, senior research coordinator Emmanuelle Simonet, CCRP, Ashima Sharma, research assistant, and a team of nurses, respiratory therapists and support staff.

In the winning proposal to the PFF, Glassberg developed the Florida ILD exchange with pulmonologists from across the state, including Florida International University/Mount Sinai Hospital, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida and Mayo Clinic. Through this network, programs will be made available to patients and colleagues throughout Florida as well as the Caribbean and South and Central America. Teleconferences and regional meetings will be conducted to promote greater access to education and up-to-date information and access to the latest advances and clinical trials. The first of these programs will be held at University of Miami Hospital on March 31.

Founded by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in 2013, PFF Care Center Network sites use a multidisciplinary approach to deliver comprehensive patient care, forming specialized care teams composed of experts in interstitial lung disease in pulmonary medicine, rheumatology, radiology and pathology. This multidisciplinary approach is critical to managing a complex disease like pulmonary fibrosis and ensuring that patients receive an accurate diagnosis, obtain quality clinical care and acquire important support services. The CCN was expanded in January 2015, bringing the total number of academic medical centers to 21 in 20 states.

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