For Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s new chief of pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine, Patricia J. Dubin, MD, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), pursuing new treatments for respiratory issues is more than just a passion – its personal.
As a child, Dr. Dubin was diagnosed with asthma. As she grew older and honed in on a career in medicine, she knew wanted to find a way to help children with respiratory problems breathe easier. But for Dr. Dubin, it was more than her own experience that shaped her future in pulmonology. During her senior year of undergraduate studies, the daughter of a favorite professor, just 10 years old, died. The young girl had cystic fibrosis.
“It had a pretty profound effect on our entire campus, because we all kind of knew this little girl, and that was one of the first exposures that I really had to cystic fibrosis,” said Dr. Dubin. “When we look at our field, many people think pulmonary evolved out of a need to take care of patients with asthma and other types of breathing disorders, but in large part it evolved around the disease of cystic fibrosis.”
Dr. Dubin began her medical school training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, followed by a pediatric residency at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, where she was able to engage in a fair amount of pulmonary training through the general pediatrics residency. She completed her pediatric pulmonology fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and she stayed on for a decade, focused on research and clinical work. She moved to West Virginia University School of Medicine, where she was chief of Pediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, and served as the director of the Mountain State Cystic Fibrosis Center.
At Le Bonheur, Dr. Dubin will focus on developing research, clinical and education programs in pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine.
The connection between sleep medicine and breathing disorders drew Dr. Dubin’s particular interest, something she calls a “natural fit for people who think a lot about respiratory problems.”
“A good portion of pediatric sleep medicine is secondary to breathing problems,” said Dr. Dubin. “When we look at the different kinds of pathology, we think of obstructive sleep apnea or difficulty breathing during sleep. While that is a large part of pediatric sleep medicine, it is not the entire story. There are many other types of disorders.”
Dr. Dubin will also continue her clinical work with young respiratory patients who seek treatment at Le Bonheur from across the region. Each year, asthma is the cause of more than 3,500 asthma-related visits to Le Bonheur.
“There are many things that attracted me to Le Bonheur,” says Dubin. “I was attracted by the institutional commitment to community service, clinical program development, research and education.”
She also cites the potential of Le Bonheur’s programs, opportunities for partnering with other research hospitals, and Le Bonheur’s focus on the needs of the community when it comes to respiratory treatment and therapy.
“There is a clear commitment to the Memphis community through development of programs that address unmet needs for the city and region as well through the development of programs that will garner national attention,” said Dr. Dubin. “The partnership with St. Jude also allows us to focus on respiratory care in oncology and hematology patients.”
“I think many of us in medicine are inspired by our personal experiences, and that drives us to do what we do,” she continued.
In the next year, Dubin will lead pulmonary and sleep medicine program development in the areas of asthma, cancer-related respiratory disease, hematology- related disease, primary ciliary dyskinesia (respiratory disease that is present at birth and causes permanent and irreversible respiratory damage if not identified early) and medically complex and technology-dependent children.
*Editor’s Note: Sally Walker Davies is the author of the originally published article used for this release.*