Behind the Scenes Commitment

“There are plenty of people focused on the easy problems; we’ll work on the hard ones.”

— Kevin Brown, MD

Kevin Brown, MD, Vice Chair, MedicineEach year, more than 40,000 otherwise healthy people receive a devastating diagnosis: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). There is no approved treatment to slow the progressive scarring of the lungs caused by the disease, and the average survival is only three to five years after diagnosis.*

For more than 35 years, National Jewish Health has been a leader in the research and treatment of IPF. Physicians and scientists at National Jewish Health have described who gets the disease, its natural progression, and the basic mechanisms underlying its relentless scarring.

They have participated in dozens of clinical trials of experimental medications. Unfortunately there has been little progress, and the limited successes can be difficult to see.

“Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a heartbreaking disease,” said Kevin K. Brown, MD, vice chair, medicine. “At the same time, I’m committed to working on it because I see such an opportunity to provide benefit. If we keep working, pursue every lead, and never give up, we will figure it out, find a treatment and change the world for people with IPF. There are plenty of people focused on the easy problems; we’ll work on the hard ones.”

Recently, there has been noteworthy progress. In early 2012, Dr. Brown and his colleagues reported that trials of an experimental medication slowed the loss of lung function and preserved quality of life for the first time. The next generation of trials in IPF will begin at National Jewish Health in 2013.


* Updated Medical Information: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) does not respond to immunosuppressive medications, but two medications have recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of IPF. They are pirfenidone and nintedamib.