NEWARK, NJ – On September 25, 2019, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) will mark World Lung Day, an international day for lung health advocacy and action.
“Maintaining global lung health and curing lung disease requires excellent health care and innovative biomedical research,” said Dr. Maria Gennaro, interim director of the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
“When we reduce lung disease, we create a healthier population and a stronger economy, and NJMS has long-been a leader in this fight.”
NJMS medical experts are available for press inquiries on vaping, lung health research, and the “Big 5” lung diseases impacting patients worldwide:
COPD impacts more than 370,000 New Jerseyans and 384 million people worldwide.
The disease, which kills 3 million people every year, is projected to generate a nearly 50-billion-dollar economic burden in 2020, due to the cost of medical expenses and lost workdays.
Asthma impacts 334 million people and 14 percent of children worldwide. Asthma is also the most common chronic pediatric condition, and the number of cases are rising.
Official say Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide. One fourth of the world’s population is currently infected with TB, and at least 1.3 million people died from the disease in 2017 alone.
Lung cancer, the deadliest form of cancer, kills 1.76 million people around the world each year. Nearly 4,500 New Jersey residents currently have lung cancer.
Acute lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia: 4 million people die from lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia each year. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in the very young and very old. In the last 10 years, almost 15,000 New Jerseyans have died from various kinds of pneumonia, including the flu.
**Raising Awareness about the Dangers of Vaping**
The CDC is currently conducting a nationwide investigation on the potential dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.
Recently, the CDC issued a recommendation that the public "consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products" while the investigation is ongoing.
In New Jersey, State Senate President Steve Sweeney recently announced plans to introduce legislation that would phase in a statewide ban on vaping.
Dr. Andrew Berman, professor and chief of the pulmonary division within the department of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, emphasized that the vaping crisis is an example of why advocates must do more to spread the word about the importance of improving global lung health.
“The use of e-cigarettes is increasing at epidemic proportions, especially among youth and young adults,” said Dr. Andrew Berman. “The recent reports of serious lung disease and deaths linked to e-cigarettes are alarming. They should serve as a call to action. NJMS researchers are at the forefront of lung disease care and research.
The vaping crisis at hand is an example of why we need to do more to raise awareness, as we work to achieve the overall mission of World Lung Day: healthy lungs for all.”
**Combatting the Global TB Epidemic**
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School houses the Global Tuberculosis Institute, which plays a pivotal role in the international arena, providing expertise in program development, education, training, and research to ministries of health, national TB programs, and health care providers locally, nationally, and internationally.
Researchers at the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) at NJMS, have contributed fundamental knowledge to the development of every diagnostic test that currently exists to diagnose tuberculosis – tools that are used around the world to combat the global TB epidemic.
For decades, researchers at PHRI and at the Center for Emerging Pathogens and NJMS have contributed new knowledge on the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, and its interactions with the host cells. Their research has led to breakthrough advances in approaches to TB control worldwide.
**Leading New Rutgers-wide Initiatives to Connect State Leaders with Lung Health Solutions**
Dr. Maria Gennaro noted that NJMS clinicians and researchers are seriously concerned about the burden lung diseases place on the State of New Jersey. To that end, researchers at NJMS are currently in the process of creating a new Rutgers-wide, New Jersey-centric initiative to promote healthy lungs for all.
“Our current health care framework fails to consider that global lung health is influenced by a complex combination of biomedical, socio-political, and economic factors, as well as cultural, environmental and individual behaviors,” said Dr. Maria Gennaro. “To combat this public health crisis, we need to start thinking of lung health and disease as an ecosystem.”
This new initiative would spur the creation of an interdisciplinary coalitions of Rutgers scholars who, together with local community leaders, would work to identify biomedical, environmental, and social determinants of lung health.
Innovative means of communication will be applied to build a bridge between biomedical interventions, environmental risk management, and public policy tools.
The goal of this new initiative is to advance research on the causes of various lung diseases so that public policy experts and State leaders can work together to identify solutions to combat this health crisis and align resources accordingly.