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New U center to help patients breathe easier

By Mary Hoff

From eNews, April 29, 2004

For people with emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and other lung-damaging diseases, the act of breathing is a constant struggle. Marshall Hertz, University professor of medicine, is working to change that. He established the University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Lung Disease last year to find new ways to prevent and treat these life-threatening diseases. "We have one of the world's biggest and most successful lung transplant programs," says Hertz of the Fairview-University Medical Center's lung transplant program on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, "but transplantation is the last step in a long process of lung disease management." Hertz, who serves as the center's medical director, has long seen the need for a central entity wherein University experts from different disciplines--such as medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, and public health--who work with lung diseases can come together to advance prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. He says that because of medical specialization, these University researchers and clinicians don't always share insights into the work they're doing. Yet, the means to establish such an interdisciplinary center eluded him. That is, until one of Hertz's grateful patients stepped in. "Marshall was always thinking forward," recalls Judy Murphy, who received a living donor transplant in 2001. "When I was being wheeled in the wheelchair, sucking on oxygen, he'd say, 'OK, let's formulate a plan.' He was positive and confident, as though we really were going to lick this thing." They did. And in appreciation, Murphy gave the University a gift that allowed it to offer Hertz an endowed professorship that came with the fiscal resources he needed to start turning his vision into a reality. "Now we want to lick [lung diseases] for a lot of other people, and on a bigger scale," says Murphy.

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