$1 Million Gift Funds International Pulmonary Hypertension Project
DURHAM, N.C. – The Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Duke
University Medical Center has received a $1 million gift to
develop an international research database that promotes
collaboration among clinical investigators around the world and
helps identify key areas for pulmonary hypertension
The database was pioneered by Victor
Tapson, M.D., director of Duke's pulmonary hypertension
program, one of only about 20 centers in the world involved
with large clinical trials and clinical research involving
pulmonary hypertension patients.
Tapson is collaborating with Rush Presbyterian Hospital in
Chicago, and medical centers in Germany and Italy also have
expressed interest in participating.
A major limiting factor in pulmonary hypertension (PH)
research is the rarity of the disease, which affects only about
20 people per million worldwide. PH causes high blood pressure
in the lungs, in turn stressing the heart and causing shortness
of breath, fatigue, chest pain and progressive heart failure.
Currently, there is no cure.
There are two forms of pulmonary hypertension:
primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), diagnosed when the
problem cannot be attributed to another condition, and the more
common secondary pulmonary hypertension (SPH), caused by a
condition such as lupus. A recent increase in PPH cases in the
United States and Europe was attributed to the diet drugs
fenfluramine ("Fen-Phen") and dexfenfluramine, which were
removed from the market by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration in 1997, Tapson noted.
"This generous gift is a tribute to the highly specialized
care and innovative research Duke offers for patients with this
disease," said Ralph
Snyderman, M.D., chancellor for health affairs and CEO of
the Duke University Health System. "I am confident that the
international research collaboration it makes possible will
lead to important breakthroughs to benefit these patients and
The anonymous gift was prompted by the donor's acquaintance
with several individuals with PPH, one of whom is currently
being treated by Tapson.
"Through research, we have been able to make remarkable
progress in translating advanced understanding of the
mechanisms of PH into new drug therapies that dramatically
improve quality and length of life for our patients," said
Tapson. "However, we still have a great deal of work to do to
find a cure. We are most grateful for this donor's generosity
and confidence in our program."