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Pulmonary Hypertension Association Receives New Grants as it Recognizes Outstanding PH Patients, Medical Experts and Scientists

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) learned during its 12th International Conference and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to support its work to advance research and patient care. Announcement of the grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work in fighting pulmonary hypertension (PH) or high blood pressure of the lungs.

PH is a progressive disease that puts pressure on the right side of the heart and can cause death from heart failure. With symptoms that include shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain, PH often looks like asthma or other less-threatening illnesses. Without treatment, median patient survival for those with pulmonary arterial hypertension, one form of PH, is only 2.8 years from the time of diagnosis.

Actelion Pharmaceuticals US President Bill Fairey announced the establishment of the Aldrighetti Research Award for Young Investigators. The new six-year PHA grant award will support the careers of young investigators who are likely to make a strong and sustained impact in PH research. The award is named for Rino Aldrighetti, PHA’s first president and chief executive officer, who retired this month. PHA will name the first of the six Young Investigator as awardees in 2017. Dr. Bruce Brundage – representing PHA’s founders, its Scientific Leadership Council, PH Professional Network, Board of Trustees, and staff – presented the Rino Aldrighetti Leadership Award. This award will enable an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in addressing the vision that PHA embraces. The fund will also make it possible for awardees to receive a significant monetary award to further their work. Bayer Healthcare also presented a special award to Aldrighetti to thank him for his 17 years of service to PHA.

“This is an exciting time for PHA, as is evidenced by the establishment of these significant new grants and the record attendance at our conference,” said PHA President and CEO Brad A. Wong. “The conference was a perfect time to acknowledge how far PHA has come while recognizing that it will take continued efforts by the patient, medical and scientific community – working together – to find a PH cure.”

During the conference PHA presented a number of awards to individuals for their efforts to advance care through awareness, advocacy and service of the PHA community:

  • Outstanding Allied Health Professional -- Glenna Traiger, a PH Clinical Nurse Specialist from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
  • Outstanding Physician Award – Dr. Richard Channick, a pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School with a strong history in PH treatment and clinical research.
  • Outstanding Caregiver – Martha Gonzalez, a caregiver and activist who has been fighting PH since her son, Daniel, was diagnosed when he was barely a year old. She brings the voices of PH patients to Capitol Hill as she advocates for Bill H.R. 3520.
  • Outstanding Citizen – Nicole Stafford, an active member in the PH community who was diagnosed with PH in 2011. She hosts her annual Nicole Phriends golf outing and other fundraisers every year.
  • Outstanding Young Citizen – Eliana Elderete, a 12-year-old girl who was diagnosed at age six. She raises disease awareness and participates in advocacy and fundraising projects.
  • Outstanding Support Group Leader – Diane Dewaulder, who became a support group leader in Texas six years ago. She has conducted events to raise funds and awareness in her fight against PH.

Non-patient Volunteer Julie Hendry Memorial Scholarship Awardees:

  • Don Stevenson, who dedicated six months to walk across America to raise funds for PHA in 2015 and more time in 2016 to walk across Washington State to raise even more money and awareness.
  • Jack Nino, who lost his girlfriend to PH in 2002 and has continued to attend every PHA conference since as a volunteer.

Grassroots Fundraisers (Impact Awards):

  • Steve & Debra Abraham Family (“JFK Tower Golf Scramble”)
  • Debra Watkins (“Thirsting for a Cure in Portland”)
  • Matt & Jayna Wall (“Driving Fore a Cure Golf Tournament)
  • Amy Lovercamp and family (Working with PHA’s Midwest Chapter, planned three inaugural events in 2015 -- “Higginsville Denim and Diamonds,” “Kansas City O2 breathe 5K” and “Alma O2 breathe 5K” and an additional event for 2016, “Kansas City Denim and Diamonds”)
  • Melinda Grubich, (DeWitt “Take a breath for PH Race”)
  • Mike & Shari Caffrey (“Taylor’s Wish”)
  • Mike and Bonnie McGoon (Rochester PHA Gala)

Conference sponsors at the diamond (highest) level included Actelion, Bayer and Gilead. Silver-level sponsors included United Therapeutics, Reata and Accredo. SteadyMed was a Bronze sponsor and Bellerophon and Eiger were general sponsors.

About the Pulmonary Hypertension Association:

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., with a growing list of chapters across the country, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) is the country’s leading pulmonary hypertension organization. Its mission is to extend and improve the lives of those affected by PH; its vision is a world without PH, empowered by hope. PHA achieves this by connecting and working together with the entire PH community of patients, families and medical professionals. Among its programs, PHA facilitates more than 245 support groups around the country and delivers continuing education for medical professionals through PHA Online University. For 13 consecutive years, PHA has received the highest rating — four stars — for financial health and fiscal accountability & transparency from Charity Navigator, placing it in the top half of one percent of all rated charities. For more information, please go to, @PHAssociation on Twitter and on Facebook.

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