Dr. Byron Thomashow Awarded 2013 ATS Public Advisory Roundtable Excellence Award

May 23, 2013

Byron Thomashow, MD, was recently awarded the 2013 ATS Public Advisory Roundtable (PAR) Excellence Award.

This award is an honor given to a person who embodies many criteria including passion for patients, innovative spirit and outstanding leadership skills, to name just a few.

“It's a tremendous honor, and I'm grateful to have been considered and to be awarded,” he says. “While the award is a fantastic individual honor, I believe it is as much a recognition of the COPD Foundation, what we have accomplished, what we hope to accomplish, and is a recognition of the fantastic dedicated staff of the Foundation.”

Dr. Thomashow is one of the founders of the COPD Foundation, and serves as Chairman of its Board of Directors. He has been an attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center since 1979 and continues to have an active medical practice. He helped to establish the COPD and Lung Volume Reduction programs at the institution. He is the Medical Director of the Jo-Ann LeBuhn Center for Chest Disease and is Chair of the Respiratory Council for the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, and is co-chair of the New York COPD Coalition. He has been and remains an active investigator in numerous clinical research trials.

Corinne Costa Davis says Dr. Thomashow truly deserves this award. Her husband, Roy Davis, was a patient of Dr. Thomashow’s for 25 years, before passing away from COPD in 2011.

“There were a couple times when we'd be in the emergency room, and without a doubt, two hours later Byron would be there. He was just phenomenal-he was always there. He was so aware of the disease, and Roy was able to manage it so well because Byron helped us understand it,” Davis says. “He was a source of support both emotionally, as well as medically, and it was the most magnificent thing…he gave Roy the gift of life.”

Norma Revman, a patient of Dr. Thomashow’s for about 12 years, agrees.

“He takes care of the whole person—he doesn’t just take care of your lungs. He really cares about the patient, and wants you to get better,” she says. “I’ve never met a person like him—either in my personal life or medical life—in all aspects of life. He doesn’t do things for recognition—he does them because he wants to, and he wants people to get better.”

About a decade ago, Dr. Thomashow helped create the National Emphysema COPD Association (NECA)—a patient organization—and during that time, had the opportunity to meet John W. Walsh, president and co-founder of the COPD Foundation.

“John Walsh is unique—he's really an unbelievable individual. I got to know him, and better understand the tremendous need in the COPD world for a patient-centered organization—and that's where the COPD Foundation came from,” he says. “Our initial goal was to build funding for research to ultimately lead to better treatments and a cure. While research remains central to our mission we have recognized that patient and caregiver support, patient and healthcare provider education, and advocacy are also critical elements.”

Dr. Thomashow says tremendous work has been done for the COPD community, but stresses that “we need to keep pushing for more research and better care with the goal that one day there will be a cure for this disease.”

Until then, Dr. Thomashow will continue to do the great work that he's been doing for the COPD community since he was a pulmonary lab technician in the 1960s.

“I started my practice in 1979, so I've been doing this for a very long time. And I've never regretted becoming a physician—I like taking care of patients. I'm thrilled to be recognized, but there is so much more that needs to be done.”