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Peter Wagner, M.D., Chief of UCSD’s Physiology Division and Acting Director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, will take the helm of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) on May 24 at their international conference being held in San Diego, California.
The 100-year-old American Thoracic Society is an independent international organization that focuses on respiratory and critical care medicine. The society’s goals are to address respiratory disease through research, education, patient care, and advocacy. The society has approximately 13,500 members.
Wagner has a number of objectives for his tenure as president.
“My first and foremost goal is to raise awareness of the ATS and of lung diseases among patients, primary physicians, and Washington,” says Wagner. “We need to promote lung health, prevent the onset of disease, and manage lung disease among the roughly 30 million people of this country who have some form of lung disease.”
Wagner points out that Americans are very familiar with cardiac disease, stroke, diabetes and breast cancer due to concerted public awareness campaigns, but people are largely unaware of lung diseases. For example, he points out that lung cancer kills more American women than breast, ovarian and cervical cancer combined, but most women fear a breast cancer diagnosis more than lung cancer.
Other goals Wagner hopes to achieve in the next year include partnering with respiratory disease patients as part of his plan to raise awareness, spearhead advocacy efforts, raise funds for research and promote lung health. Diversifying revenue streams is another high priority along with increasing the society’s research grants program.
“We are only three years into our research grant program at ATS and are currently giving out about half a million dollars per year,” says Wagner. “But this needs to be increased by a factor of 100 to really make a difference. That is a challenge, but I want to start meeting that challenge now.”
Wagner is a Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
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