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Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

July 11, 2023

Naftali Kaminski, MD, section chief

Jonathan Siner, MD, clinical chief

Yale-PCCSM’s mission is to deliver compassionate and effective patient care; perform cutting-edge clinical, translational and basic science research; and provide rigorous training of future leaders in academic pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. To fulfill this mission in the best possible setting, the section focuses on work-life balance, community, diversity, and engagement.

Last year was one of growth and recovery after two hard pandemic years. There have been record numbers of outpatient clinic visits; new clinical technologies implemented; research funding secured; and prestigious national and international awards received by faculty. The secret to Yale-PCCSM’s success is its members: their unique talents, diverse backgrounds, and range of subspecialties, interests, and expertise. Of Yale-PCCSM’s ladder faculty, 51 percent are women and 13 percent belong to groups underrepresented in medicine. Fifty-five percent of senior faculty members are women; and 48 percent of early-career faculty are Yale-PCCSM fellows. Recently seven new faculty members were hired, and nine faculty were promoted.

Clinical Successes & New Procedures

When the renovated Winchester Center for Lung Disease opened in 2021, an increase in patient visits was expected, but the numbers exceeded expectations. Overall outpatient visits increased by 44 percent, and new visits by 83 percent, compared to pre-pandemic years. Some subspecialties saw a doubling in the number of visits. New technologies have been implemented that improve diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients, including “shape-sensing” robotic bronchoscopy for better guidance of biopsy procedures; endoscopic endobronchial valve placement for treatment of severe emphysema; and invasive cardiopulmonary exercise testing (iCPET) to identify the causes of unexplained shortness of breath. In collaboration with cardiothoracic surgery and interventional cardiology, access to pulmonary thrombo-endarterectomy and balloon pulmonary angioplasty is also offered.

Multidisciplinary Human Disease-Relevant Research

Yale-PCCSM published 237 papers; overall research funding came to more than $12 million. There are five early-stage investigators who secured NIH R01 grants: Maurizio Chioccioli, MSc, PhD; Jose Gomez Villalobos, MD, MS; Melissa Knauert, MD, PhD; Maor Sauler, MD; and Xiting Yan, PhD.

Fellowship and Training

The section continues to offer six fellowship slots each year for pulmonary, critical care (overall 22 fellows), four for sleep, four for critical care medicine, and one for interventional pulmonary. There are also nine slots that support research training on the T32 grant.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The DEI committee, led by Vivian Asare, MD, organized educational and social activities, and offered a fellowship URiM Mentorship Program to residents at historically Black colleges and universities. Asare also received an American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation Community Sleep Health Grant to provide funding for the Yale Compassionate CPAP Service, which offers equipment and assistance to offset the costs of sleep apnea therapy to uninsured and underinsured patients.

Award-winning Team Members

  • Naftali Kaminski, MD: American Thoracic Society (ATS) J. Burns Amberson Lecture Award.
  • Erica Herzog, MD, PhD: ATS Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments.
  • Lynn T. Tanoue, MD, MBA: ATS Thoracic Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Charles Dela Cruz, MD, PhD: Elected to membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
  • Lauren Ferrante, MD, MHS: ASCI Young Physician-Scientist Award; ATS Assembly on Critical Care Early Career Achievement Award.
  • John Huston, MD: Bear Cage Competition at the ATS 2022 International Conference.
  • Snigdha Jain, MD, MHS: ASCI Emerging Generations Award; Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Scholar Award.
  • Susan Ardito, senior administrative assistant: Internal Medicine Service Excellence Award.

Christine Won, MD, MSc, medical director of the Yale Centers for Sleep Medicine and director of the Yale Women’s Sleep Health program, began her term as president of the Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine in October 2022. Won’s interests include complex sleep-disordered breathing and sleep disorders in women.

Erica Herzog, MD, PhD, was appointed the John Slade Ely Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary) and professor of pathology. Herzog directs the Interstitial Lung Disease Center of Excellence and is an associate dean of medical student research.

Single-cell Analysis Technologies

The recent development of single-cell atlases is a highlight of Yale-PCCSM’s recent work. By profiling all the cells in samples from patients with such advanced lung diseases as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and COPD, Yale-PCCSM’s physician-scientists have discovered novel cell types, observed changes in the profiles of known cells, and highlighted interactions among different cell types. A team led by Maor Sauler, MD, and John McDonough, PhD, has compiled an unprecedented atlas of cells in the COPD-afflicted lung. Sauler and McDonough used single-cell RNA sequencing, a method that allows them to measure the gene activity within each individual cell of a tissue sample.

Submitted by Julie Parry on July 07, 2023