The generosity of Drs. Mary and Harold “Hal” Zirin will help millions of people with lung diseases for generations to come.

Mary grew up in Denver and met Hal when they were both living in Boulder. In the 1960s, they moved to California, where Hal was a professor of astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology and Mary taught Russian.

When Hal suffered breathing problems related to scoliosis the Zirins knew they should return to Colorado and National Jewish Health. Hal’s care and their interest in research inspired the Zirins to establish the Drs. Harold and Mary Zirin Chair in Pulmonary Biology. The endowment provides important funding for the chair’s occupant to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating lung disease. After Hal’s death on January 3, 2012, Mary remains committed to carrying on their generosity to help millions of people with lung diseases.

“The Zirins made an extraordinary commitment to support research that will improve the way we treat lung diseases,” said Gregory Downey, MD, the chair’s current occupant. “They have provided for research funding to continue well into the future.”