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NEWS | November 2, 2012

Media advisory: UC Davis experts available for interviews during COPD Awareness Month

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

November is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Awareness Month and a good time to increase public awareness of symptoms and treatments for the disease along with research that could expand options for patients.

Several UC Davis physicians and researchers, including those listed below, are available as media resources on COPD. To schedule an interview with a pulmonary specialist, contact Karen Finney at 916-734-9064 or karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

UC Davis COPD experts

Mark Avdalovic (pronounced av-DOLL-oh-vich) works together with his patients to develop treatment plans for daily management of COPD, including pulmonary rehabilitation, medication and oxygen therapies. In addition to his clinical practice, he conducts research on pulmonary vascular changes that can complicate lung disease, the relationship between COPD and cardiovascular disease, and gender differences in COPD. He also leads a clinical trials program that is testing the effectiveness of new drugs for reducing the core symptoms -- inflammation and airflow obstruction -- that define COPD.

Carroll Cross is an expert on genetic links to lung illness, including a predisposition for COPD known as alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. This hereditary condition results in low concentrations of a lung-protective protein and leads to early onset of COPD -- typically before age 50. Cross can address testing, advanced treatments and family counseling approaches to caring for patients with AAT deficiency.

Elizabeth David specializes in thoracic surgery, including lung volume reduction surgery to remove non-functioning lung tissue and improve shortness of breath in some patients with COPD. The technique can often be performed minimally invasively using video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), which involves smaller incisions, decreased pain and less recovery time than traditional open surgical techniques. During VATS, a small camera projects images onto a high-definition screen and guides the surgeon to where abnormal tissue can be removed.

Kimberly Hardin is director of UC Davis' pulmonary rehabilitation program, which improves the well-being and quality of life for those living with lung disease. The program involves individualized therapies and education (including smoking cessation) that offer new approaches to nutrition, sleep, medication, exercise and social functions. It also provides a community of support and networking opportunities with others who are dealing with COPD.

Samuel Louie, a national leader in treating lung diseases, recently launched the ROAD (reversible obstructive airway disease) program to reduce hospital admissions for COPD. Patients are provided personalized treatment plans, education, specialist referrals, a monthly support group and pager access to pulmonary experts to help reduce acute exacerbations. Louie can also address the importance of identifying COPD early in the course of the disease to optimize treatment outcomes and offering a respectful, family-centered approach to care.

More about COPD

COPD can involve a combination of bronchitis, emphysema and, sometimes, asthma. It progressively reduces breathing capacity to the point where mobility becomes restricted and hospitalizations are common. Primarily linked with smoking, COPD is estimated to affect 24 million Americans, half of whom are yet to be diagnosed. It recently overtook stroke as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., and since 2000 more women than men have died each year from the disease. Additional facts about COPD are available on the National Institutes of Health website.

Kent Pinkerton, director of the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment, uses animal models to identify stages of lung disease -- from their early to advanced forms. Using a unique rat model, he and his research team can evaluate cellular changes involved in the onset of COPD, with the goal of developing new interventions that lessen the extent and severity of the disease. His team recently identified inflammation as a core component of COPD progression and will next determine if statin medications can reduce that process.

Michael Schivo is an expert in new diagnostic technologies for lung disease. He is currently part of a team developing a portable and highly sensitive instrument that can non-invasively detect COPD in its earliest stages and then monitor the effectiveness of therapies based on a biomarker analysis of someone's breath.

About UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education and creating dynamic, productive community partnerships. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 619-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1,000-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.