The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI’s) Division of Lung Diseases celebrated its 50th anniversary April 9 with an NIH Symposium on lung research followed by a reception at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. The anniversary’s theme is “Celebrating 50 Years of Progress in Pulmonary Science.”

Staff from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) attended the reception including PHA President and CEO Brad Wong who spoke with Gary Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at NIH; James Kiley, PhD, Director of the Division of Lung Diseases; Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) to help increase awareness about PH and the association in general.

At the reception, NHLBI Director Gary Gibbons, M.D., said, “We are at the point of taking the ‘c’ out of COPD,” he told a crowded room of representatives from various lung-health organizations who helped support the reception including PHA. Dr. Gibbons noted that the lung division is now able to think about prevention rather than responding to symptoms when they arise.

Several legislators also spoke at the reception, including Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who said, “every dollar you spend on health research pays for itself many times over” and Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who praised those present for giving people “that second chance of life.” DeLauro told the stakeholders that their research is a great example of the intersection between basic and clinical research. “There is no more important thing that we do than give you the resources you need to save lives,” DeLauro said.

In addition, the reception site featured banners spotlighting persons who have been impacted by the work of NHLBI’s Lung Division. Shavini Fernando, an individual with PH, was one of the patients appearing on a banner which will be used at other NHLBI 50th anniversary events throughout the year.

PHA President and CEO Brad Wong (l.) with James Kiley, PhD, Director of the Division of Lung Diseases in front of the banner featuring Shavini Fernando, an individual with PH.