NEWS | October 29, 2013

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


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 is expanding options for patients.

Several UC Davis pulmonary physicians, surgeons and health educators, including those listed below, are available as media resources on COPD. To schedule an interview, please contact Karen Finney at 916-734-9064 or

UC Davis COPD experts

Mark Avdalovic (pronounced av-DOLL-oh-vich) works together with his patients to develop COPD treatment plans, which can include pulmonary rehabilitation, medications and oxygen therapy. In addition to his clinical practice, he conducts research on vascular changes that can complicate lung disease, gender differences in COPD and the relationship between COPD and cardiovascular disease. He also leads clinical trials of new drugs targeting inflammation and airflow obstruction — the core symptoms of 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-chest surgery. 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 with others who are dealing with COPD.

Samuel Louie, a national leader in treating lung diseases, launched the UC Davis ROAD (Reversible Obstructive Airway Diseases) 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 and offering a respectful, family-centered approach to COPD care.

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 are evaluating cellular changes involved in the onset of COPD, with the goal of developing novel interventions that lessen the extent and severity of the disease. His team identified inflammation as a core component of COPD progression and is currently determining if statin medications can reduce that process.

More about COPD
COPD involves 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, about half of whom are yet to be diagnosed. It recently overtook stroke as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. 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.

Michael Schivo (pronounced SKI-voh) 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.

Cari Shulkin is a health educator and tobacco treatment specialist who leads smoking cessation programs for those seeking to reduce their risks for COPD. Shulkin can address her comprehensive, evidence-based approach for treating tobacco use and addiction, which combines counseling, education, medication and nicotine replacement therapy.

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