We honor our Founder JW Walsh
and his Vision to Cure COPD

We honor John W. Walsh, founder of the COPD Foundation. Often referring to himself as the “impatient patient”, John’s call to action was to educate, engage and empower. His contributions to empowerment of patients are unprecedented.

John’s voice changed the way research studies are designed and executed, the way industry views the patient voice and even changed the way patients are integrated into medical education. John dedicated much of his life to his commitment to speeding the development of new therapies and a cure for COPD.

The COPD Foundation remains strongly committed to John's vision. Through his initiatives, the Foundation’s work engaged in research to better understand the disease, educating patients and providers on how to improve care delivery and quality of life, and empowered a vibrant community for all affected. Programs developed under John’s leadership were far-reaching, covering all facets of a uniquely patient-centered approach. That approach is now recognized as being revolutionary.

Funds allocated to Research will be used to achieve the mission that John set forth, ensuring his memory will live on and continue to uplift lives while searching for a cure for COPD.

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A Community Remembers John W. Walsh

The COPD Foundation lost our beloved founder John W. Walsh on March 7, 2017. John will be remembered not only for his pioneering work in the field of respiratory health but for his tireless efforts advocating for the millions worldwide with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A veteran and successful businessman, when diagnosed along with his twin brother Fred with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a rare and at that time little known genetic from of COPD, John did what he always did throughout his life; he looked for answers. His search led him to walk away from his business and cofound the Alpha-1 Foundation and later AlphaNet. In John’s work with Alpha-1, he discovered a much bigger and largely unrecognized community; those with COPD. Before that time, COPD was misunderstood, misdiagnosed, mistreated, underfunded and lacking adequate research. In 2004, John formed the COPD Foundation. Gathering together a dedicated team of professionals and fellow patients, John soon expanded the reach of the Foundation to include the COPD Digest, the Mobile Spirometry unit, the C.O.P.D. Information Line, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation, and the DRIVE4COPD campaign.

To increase funding for research and patient access, John established the COPD Advocacy program and the Congressional COPD Caucus. In an effort to bring new innovation to drug therapies, John established the Biomarkers Qualification Consortium, The COPDGene Study, The Patient-Powered Research Network and the Bronchiectasis Research Registry. With the popularity of social networks, John was the vision behind the COPD360 initiative in an effort to make the Foundation a “one stop shop” for everything COPD, resulting in the formation of COPD360social (an online COPD community), PRAXIS (a community allowing professionals to interact with each other and the patients they serve) along with a wealth of web-based information. At John’s encouragement, the COPD Foundation changed its mission statement to reflect an additional goal…a cure for COPD.

Through the years John has received many awards which he accepted but for which he never took the credit; he felt that the honors were recognition for the community he loved and the people in his life; especially his wife Diane whom he often described as the love of his life, conscience and right hand. Other than when with his family, John often said he was the happiest when he could spend time with others impacted by lung disease.

If it is true that “A person’s true wealth is the good he or she does in the world”, John was wealthy beyond words. In the coming days and years when we speak of John, we will remember happier times with a man we truly respected and loved and who challenged us to heights we thought we could never reach. In grief we will always miss him, but in thankfulness we will be grateful that he touched our lives and allowed us the gift of being a part of his amazing journey.

We will continue to honor John by relentlessly pursuing his vision and continuing the work he so wholeheartedly embraced.