COPD Foundation Leadership

Main Number: (866) 731-COPD (2673)


COPD Foundation Executives

  • Ruth Tal-Singer, PhD
    President & Chief Executive Officer
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  • Byron Thomashow, MD
    Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer
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  • Elisha Malanga, BS
    Corporate Relations Officer
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  • Kaleo Curtis, CPA, MSA
    Chief Financial Officer
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  • Vincent Malanga, BS, MCP
    Chief Digital Information Officer
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  • Linda Walsh, BS
    Chief Community Engagement Officer, COPD360coach
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  • Kristen Willard, MS
    Executive Vice President Public and Professional Education
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  • Christine Novak Micka, MA
    Senior Director of Development
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  • Carol Johnson, MBA
    Senior Director of Communications and Marketing
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Medical and Scientific Leadership

  • Bruce E. Miller, PhD
    Chief Scientific Officer
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  • Timothy R. Aksamit, MD
    Bronchiectasis and NTM 360 Medical Director
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  • Courtney Crim, MD
    COPD360 Medical Director
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  • Alan Hamilton, PhD
    Senior Director of Research; PIVOT Lead
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  • David Mannino, MD
    Co-Founder and Medical Director
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  • Richard Mularski, MD, MSHS, MCR
    Medical Director COPD PPRN
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  • Julie Yates, BS
    Senior Research Director
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  • Nicholas Locantore, PhD
    Senior Director of Digital Data Integration and Statistics
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Educators

  • Amanda Atkinson, MSN, RN
    Manager of Patient and Professional Education
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  • Michael W. Hess, MPH, RRT, RPFT
    Senior Director of Public Outreach and Education
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  • Christina Hunt, BS, RRT
    Director of Bronchiectasis and NTM Research and Education, BronchandNTM360social
    View Bio
  • Katie Keating, RN, BSN, MS
    BronchandNTM360social
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  • Kristen Szymonik, BS, RRT, AE-C
    Manager of Public and Professional Education
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  • Stephanie Williams, BS, RRT
    Senior Director of Community Education Programs
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Ruth Tal-Singer, PhD
President & Chief Executive Officer


Ruth Tal-Singer, PhD, President & CEO of the COPD Foundation is internationally recognized as a patient-focused innovator, health care leader, and clinical scientist with extensive research & development experience leading to the delivery of approved medicines for patients.

Formerly at GSK until 2019, Ruth is a long-time COPD Foundation collaborator and served as Chief Scientific Officer at the Foundation until taking the helm of the organization in 2020. She has successfully led public and private partnerships and non-profit organizations through critical advancements and clinical trial, and led the formation of COPD360Net®, the Foundation's digital health and therapeutics development accelerator network, the Community Engagement Committee (CEnCo), and Oxygen360 Advocacy program, and the Patient-Inspired Validation of Outcome Tools (PIVOT) among other programs.


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Byron Thomashow, MD
Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer


Byron Thomashow, MD, is a Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and an Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He helped found the COPD Foundation in 2004 and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for ten years. In July 2018, he took on the role of Chief Medical Officer of the Foundation. He is the medical co-director of the Jo-Ann Le Buhn Center for Chest Disease on the Columbia campus and is medical director of the New York-Presbyterian Lung Volume Reduction program. He chaired the Respiratory Disease Council of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare Network for many years and co-chaired the New York-Presbyterian smoking cessation initiative leading to the campus going smoke free. He has served as co-chair for the NY State COPD Coalition, co-chaired the New York State COPD Summit in 2010, co-chaired COPD7USA in 2011, COPD8USA in 2013, COPD 9USA in 2015, COPD10USA in 2017, and co-chaired the COPD Foundation COPD Readmission Summits in October 2013 and March 2015.

The Byron M. Thomashow Professorship of Medicine Columbia University was established in 2006. Byron was awarded the 2013 American Thoracic Society Public Advisory Roundtable Excellence Award. In 2016, he received the Columbia University Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. In 2017 he received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2018 he received the JW Walsh Visionary Award from the COPD Foundation. He was a member of the steering committee and the co-primary investigator at the Columbia site for the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and has been and remains actively involved in multiple national clinical research projects.

View Columbia Profile


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Elisha Malanga, BS
Corporate Relations Officer


In her role as Corporate Relations Officer, Elisha works to define the corporate strategy of the Foundation, including expanding funding opportunities for the COPD Foundation. Elisha works closely with the Foundation's Executive team as well as corporate partners and collaborators. She also leads the Foundation's retail support and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. Elisha continues to identify, nurture and expand Foundation partnerships with like-minded organizations. She is staff liaison to the Corporate Council and has extensive experience with Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded and other specialty grant submissions.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Elisha helped to establish the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Research Program and in 2007, she received the ATS Presidential Commendation award. Elisha has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Richmond.


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Kaleo Curtis, CPA, MSA
Chief Financial Officer


Kaleo Curtis is the Foundation's Chief Financial Officer and leads the Foundation's accounting and finance functions. Kaleo is a licensed CPA with over 12 years of experience working with non-profits in both the public and private accounting sectors, nine years of which were spent leading financial and accounting departments of multiple non-profit organizations. Kaleo enjoys strategic planning and helping organizations better utilize resources to support and serve their communities and missions.

Following his passions for education and healthcare, Kaleo served on the board of directors of the Sunrise Children's Foundation, a non-profit focused on providing early childhood education and nutrition services for at-risk families in Nevada for six years, of which he served 4 years as Board Treasurer. Kaleo continues to serve as an active member of the Sunrise Children's Foundation Finance Committee.

Kaleo completed his studies at BYU Hawaii and Southern Utah University and completed his Master of Accountancy from Southern Utah University in 2009. He and his wife met while attending school in Hawaii. They have four children and enjoy spending time with family.


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Vincent Malanga, BS, MCP
Chief Digital Information Officer


Vincent M. Malanga is the Chief Digital Information Officer for the COPD Foundation. In this role Vincent serves as the senior technology strategist providing guidance and vision on emerging technologies, technology innovation, digital trends and infrastructure advances as well as defining, implementing, and evolving the technology solutions and procedures that comprise the COPD360 technology platform of which he is the chief architect.

Vincent has over 25 years of experience in software architecture and development, database design, data and systems integration and enterprise architecture, and 15 years of experience in search engine optimization. Prior to joining the COPD Foundation, Vincent ran a successful technology consulting company and developed custom business solutions for many Fortune 500 companies including Ralph Lauren, Omnicom Group and Elsevier. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in numerous Microsoft programming languages and development tools, Azure Cloud Services, and Azure AI. He has been a guest blogger on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and has spoken at industry conferences. Vincent is also a co-author on numerous abstracts and publications from various research studies. Vincent has a Bachelor of Science from Hofstra University, continuing education credits from MIT Professional Education in Digital Transformation: From AI and IoT to Cloud, Blockchain and Cybersecurity, and has a Series 7 NASD (FINRA) license - General Securities Representative.


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Linda Walsh, BS
Chief Community Engagement Officer


Linda Walsh is the Foundation’s Chief Community Engagement Officer and is currently leading the rebuilding of COPD360coach, the peer health coaching support arm of COPD360Net. Linda directed the C.O.P.D. Information Line from 2011 until 2019 and under her leadership the Information Line Associates were rigorously trained as peer health coaches providing integral support for many Foundation research initiatives. These included the CAPTURE Study, the COPD and Pneumonia Study, the iPArTNER Study, the O2Verlap Study, the PELICAN Study, the Patient-Powered Research Network, and the Pulmonary Education Program. Linda is passionate about educating, empowering, and engaging all stakeholders of the COPD community as many of Linda’s family members are directly impacted by the disease.

Linda has over 25 years of experience in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors in strategic and financial planning, securing corporate funding and sponsorships, and enhancing operations and customer service.

Linda received a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lung Transplant Foundation. In addition, she is certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.


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Kristen Willard, MS
Executive Vice President Public and Professional Education


Kristen Willard is the Executive Vice President of Public and Professional Education for the Foundation. In this role, Kristen is responsible for overseeing the organization’s educational supports for those with COPD, their family members, and the health care professionals with whom they work. Kristen is particularly passionate about improving the lives of those with these illnesses, having lost both her father and grandmother to COPD.

She is a project lead with more than 20 years of experience in health research and project management. Kristen began her career at Georgetown University in biobehavioral research related to breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility. After obtaining her advanced degree in clinical psychology, she worked in research in both epilepsy and chronic pain as well as project oversight in literacy, veterans’ mental health services, medical examiner competence and mental health in disability employment.

Kristen has a Master of Science in clinical psychology degree from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.


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Christine Novak Micka, MA
Senior Director of Development


Christine (Chris) Novak Micka is the Foundation’s Senior Director of Development. In this role, she will help to mobilize financial support for the COPD Foundation’s critical work, by developing long-term strategies for harnessing the power of awareness, activism, and altruism in support of individuals living with COPD and related lung disorders. In addition to managing fundraising events and campaign initiatives, Chris is responsible for donor recruitment, engagement, and stewardship.

Chris has nearly 25 years of experience in philanthropy administration for mission-based movements in the health care, behavioral and mental health, social justice, and community development fields. She has held senior level leadership positions at the Greyston Foundation, Andrus Children’s Center, and the National Eating Disorders Association. In addition to her position with the COPD Foundation, Chris is involved in her local community, providing support for causes addressing pediatric cancer, eating disorders, affordable housing, and education.

Chris has both a Master of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Fordham University.


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Carol Johnson, MBA
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing


Carol Johnson joined the Foundation in June of 2021 as Senior Director of Communications and Marketing. In this role, she is responsible for guiding all Foundation communications strategy for the website, social media, newsletters, public messages, and other collaterals, to consistently articulate the COPD Foundation’s mission.

Before joining the Foundation, Carol worked for AMN Healthcare and led key initiatives, including a significant digital transformation effort; an online reputation program for six divisions; the launch of a successful natural language chatbot; and recruitment marketing of an unprecedented number of contract health care professionals before and during the global pandemic. Carol also previously supported fundraising and sponsorship communications for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and on behalf of military families in her civilian public relations and public affairs role with the U.S. Navy. She has been recognized as the Healthcare Communicator of the Year for San Diego by a panel of industry peers and recently won the Conference Board "Excellence in Communications Award" for her pioneering work to integrate personalized communications across channels.


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Timothy R. Aksamit, MD
Bronchiectasis and NTM Medical Director


Timothy R. Aksamit, MD serves as the Bronchiectasis and NTM Medical Director of the COPD Foundation. He oversees bronchiectasis and NTM projects and studies from a clinical perspective, serves as principal investigator, and advises on research strategy, partnership integration, and the development of grant proposals. He serves as author and subject matter expert to educate patients, health care professionals, caregivers, and media on the Foundation’s work and research findings on chronic lung conditions.

Dr. Aksamit is also a Consultant and Associate Professor in the Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine division of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, where he serves as the Mayo Mycobacterial and Bronchiectasis Clinic Director. Prior to accepting his position as Bronchiectasis and NTM Medical Director at the COPD Foundation, Dr. Aksamit served in a voluntary capacity as Chair of the U.S. Bronchiectasis and NTM Research Registry Consortium for several years. His service as Chair of the Consortium was critical to expanding the Registry and leveraging it to further research in the field, resulting in several published manuscripts and abstracts.

Dr. Aksamit received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL and his medical degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. He received his medical training in internal medicine, pulmonary, and critical care medicine at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he also served as Chief Resident. Before joining the staff at Mayo Clinic in 1998, Dr. Aksamit completed research at Hammersmith Hospital in London, U.K. He will continue his work with the Mayo Clinic while supporting the mission of the COPD Foundation and the Bronchiectasis and NTM Initiative.


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Amanda Atkinson, MSN, RN
Manager of Patient and Professional Education


Amanda Atkinson, MSN, RN is the Manager of Patient and Professional Education for the COPD Foundation. In this role she designs educational resources for health care professionals, patients, and caregivers, improving awareness of and accessibility to the latest evidence-based research, innovation, and information.

Amanda comes from a diverse clinical background where she provided care to patients with a variety of health conditions. She has held educational roles over the course of her career in both the health care and corporate sectors, including serving as adjunct faculty for the community and technical college system. She also co-authored a curriculum for use in non-profit recovery homes. Amanda has a passion for empowering patients, caregivers, and providers by creating educational tools to improve quality of care, enabling patients to live their best lives.

Amanda is a registered nurse and holds a Master of Science with concentration in Nursing Education from Northern Kentucky University.


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Courtney Crim, MD
COPD360 Medical Director


Courtney Crim, MD, is the COPD360 Medical Director for the Foundation. In this role he will support COPD360Net, the Foundation’s initiative to facilitate, review, and expedite clinical trials for new therapies and digital health tools while also providing support to the Foundation’s COPD360 Coach program.

In addition to his role with the Foundation, Dr. Crim is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Most recently he served as Group Director in Clinical Development in Respiratory Clinical Sciences at GlaxoSmithKline. He has over 20 years of experience designing Phase 2–4 clinical trials that encompassed developing new medical entities. Earlier in his academic career, he was a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Pulmonary and Allergy Drug Advisory Committee and has also presented submissions for drug approval at U.S., European, and other country regulatory agencies.

Dr. Crim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed post-graduate training in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, with subspecialty training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Michigan. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, and critical care medicine. He serves as a mentor for minority medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School and is currently liaising with a local university and a philanthropic organization to develop a immersion program for underrepresented minorities at a local high school to foster interest in science and medicine.


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Alan Hamilton, PhD
Senior Director of Research; PIVOT Lead

Alan Hamilton, PhD, joined the Foundation in January 2022 as Senior Director of Research. As lead of PIVOT (Patient-Inspired Validation of Outcome Tools), Alan has a major focus on activities related to the development and evaluation of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for COPD, Bronchiectasis, NTM, and other chronic lung diseases. Alan also provides subject matter expertise to the Foundation on topics related to Pulmonary Rehabilitation, including exercise training and testing, self-management, and behavior change; Alan is a member of the planning committee for the American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Assembly.

Alan is a clinical scientist by training with extensive experience as a clinical program leader. Prior to joining the Foundation, he held several senior scientific positions with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) (1997 - 2021), highlighted by his role as Global Clinical Program Lead for the once daily long-acting muscarinic antagonist / beta agonist combination, tiotropium/olodaterol (Stiolto) (2004 - 2015). Throughout his academic and industry career, Alan has shown a particular passion for the development and evaluation of interventions that target the alleviation of breathlessness and associated activity limitation in COPD. Between 2013-2021, Alan represented BI in the CBQC as Industry Co-Chair for the Constant Work Rate Exercise Working Group, and in 2020, he succeeded Ruth Tal-Singer as the Industry Co-Chair for the CBQC Steering Committee (2020/2021). Alan has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications in the area of respiratory research.

Alan has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom, a Master of Science degree in sports science from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom and a PhD in physiology/pharmacology from McMaster University in Canada.


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Michael W. Hess
Senior Director of Public Outreach and Education


Michael W. Hess is the Senior Director of Public Outreach and Education and leads the Oxygen360 project for the Foundation. The goal of the project is to facilitate oxygen equipment innovation and research, promote policy improvements surrounding oxygen reimbursement, and enhance clinician education on the appropriate use of this critical therapy. The Foundation aims to redesign the oxygen infrastructure into a robust, resilient system that works for all stakeholders, from manufacturers to equipment distributors to the patients at the heart of our mission.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike served in a unique position at WMed Health in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As Chronic Lung Disease Coordinator, he provided patient education, diagnostic testing, care coordination, and other respiratory care services as part of a primary care clinic while also designing and implementing community outreach programs to enhance respiratory health.

Mike is a registered respiratory therapist and has a Master of Public Health degree from Western Michigan University. In 2019 he received the Ambulatory and Post-Acute Care Specialty Practitioner of the Year from the American Association for Respiratory Care.


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Christina Hunt
Director of Bronchiectasis and NTM Research and Education


Christina Hunt is the Director of Bronchiectasis and NTM Research and Education for the Foundation. In this role, Christina creates patient educational resources and assists with research projects that are part of the Bronchiectasis and Nontuberculous Mycobacterial (NTM) initiative, a program started by the Foundation several years ago because of the significant overlap between COPD and these two chronic lung diseases.

She is a registered respiratory therapist and has worked in the field of respiratory care for more than 20 years including in adult, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care units; critical care transport teams; and most recently, pulmonary rehabilitation. Christina has worked as a respiratory department clinical educator at a local hospital, and as both adjunct faculty and a clinical instructor for respiratory care students at a local community college. In 2018, she developed a successful blog, BreatheLiveFit.com, to help people with chronic lung conditions live happier, healthier lives. She also serves on the board of directors for Breath Matters Support Group of Virginia.

Christina holds a Bachelor of Science in human food, nutrition, and exercise degree from Virginia Tech.


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Katie Keating
BronchandNTM360social Co-moderator


Katie Keating, RN, MS, is a BronchandNTM360social contributor for the Foundation and in this role she writes blog articles and responds to inquiries on BronchandNTM360social, providing information and educational resources to patients and caregivers.

As a nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease patient for many years, she has constantly gathered information on ongoing NTM and bronchiectasis research, exploring the best ways to manage NTM effectively. Considered one of the pioneers in NTM research advocacy, Katie was involved with the NTM Info and Research organization (Coral Gables, FL) since its infancy in 2002 and was an active member of the New York City NTM Support Group (2002–2016). She has lobbied and advocated to secure funding for research and new drug development and has made numerous professional presentations on NTM, including to the 2016 Food and Drug Administration panel to expedite NTM drug development.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Katie worked as a long-term care administrator, a health care business development professional, a charge nurse in a New York City emergency room, and a primary nurse planner for national continuing education programs. She has a Master of Science degree in health services administration from the New School for Social Research (NY, NY), and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from William Paterson University (Wayne, NJ). She completed a fellowship in health care advocacy from the American Nurses Association (Washington, DC).


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David Mannino, MD
Co-Founder and Medical Director


David Mannino, MD, is the Medical Director and Co-Founder of the COPD Foundation. In 2004, at an airport meeting room in Denver, he was also part of the original team that launched the COPD Foundation and has served the Foundation in multiple roles, including chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, Chief Scientific Officer, and as an Associate Editor of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPDF Foundation.

David is a Philadelphia native who went to Penn State and Jefferson Medical College before completing his medical residency (Lankenau Hospital, Philadelphia) and pulmonary fellowship (West Virginia University, Morgantown). After his fellowship, he took a position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he helped to launch the National Asthma Program and worked on the epidemiology of COPD. In 2004, he retired from the U.S. Public Health Service and started his academic career at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he was part of the international Burden of Lung Disease (BOLD) team, with the only U.S. site. Following a three-year stint as a U.S. Medical Expert at GlaxoSmithKline, with a focus on COPD, he returned to the Foundation as a Medical Director in November 2020.


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Jane Martin, RT
Respiratory Therapist, Public and Professional Education


Jane M. Martin is Respiratory Therapist, Public and Professional Education for the Foundation. In this position she writes patient educational materials and blog posts, working with physician experts to ensure the content is accurate and up to date. Jane also assists pulmonary rehabilitation and breathing support group program coordinators across the country in selecting COPD Foundation educational materials that will be most beneficial for their purposes.

Known as a trail blazer and fierce patient advocate, Jane is a certified respiratory therapist with over 35-years’ experience across the continuum of care, including establishing and coordinating pulmonary rehabilitation and breathing support group programs.

Jane is also a teacher and writer with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and language arts from Hope College and a certification in respiratory care from the California College for Health Sciences. She is the author of over 200 COPD-related articles and two books on living with chronic lung disease.


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Bruce E. Miller, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer


Bruce Miller, PhD, is the Chief Scientific Officer for the COPD Foundation. He also is Scientific Lead for COPD360Net, the Foundation's Digital Health and Therapeutics Development Accelerator and represents the Foundation on committees that oversee the COPDGene and SPIROMICS studies.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Bruce held senior scientific roles at several pharmaceutical firms including Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). During his 15 years at GSK, Bruce led several COPD drug development projects and was a key participant in numerous public-private collaborations that significantly contributed to disease understanding in COPD. He was the industry co-chair for the CBQC's Fibrinogen Working Group, an effort that resulted in the first regulatory qualification with the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for a biomarker as a drug development tool to support COPD clinical trials.

Bruce has authored or co-authored over 180 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of respiratory research and inflammation/immunology.

Bruce has a Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed post-doctoral training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Glaxo.


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Richard Mularski, MD, MSHS, MCR
Medical Director COPD PPRN


Richard Mularski, MD, MSHS, MCR, is the Medical Director for the Foundation’s Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN). He was a co-founder of the PPRN with John W. Walsh (COPD Foundation founder) when they secured infrastructure funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in 2014. He has continued as a co-principal investigator and has guided many of its studies as well as serving on its Governing Board and Proposal Review Committee. He also serves on the Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee and the COPD360Net Steering Committee.

In addition to his role with the Foundation, Dr. Mularski leads health services research as a Distinguished Investigator in the areas of obstructive lung disease, palliative care, and delivery science at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Senior Scholar of Ethics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Professor of Health Systems Science at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. He has served as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the northwest Kaiser region, Regional Clinical Quality Lead for COPD, and Medical Director of Inpatient Respiratory Care. Among his extensive research experience, he is a founding steering committee member of CONCERT, the COPD Outcomes-based Network for Clinical Effectiveness & Research Translation collaboration. He is a recent past president of the Oregon Thoracic Society.

Dr. Mularski is a Phoenix, Arizona native who completed undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, worked as a mechanical engineer for Motorola, and then completed medical school at the University of Arizona. He has advanced degrees in health services from the University of California-Los Angeles and clinical research from OHSU where he also completed his residency and fellowship. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine, palliative and hospice medicine, pulmonary diseases, and critical care medicine. He maintains a vigorous practice in pulmonary and critical care medicine as a Senior Physician for Northwest Permanente in Portland, Oregon


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Kristen Szymonik
Manager of Public and Professional Education


Kristen Szymonik is the Manager of Patient and Professional Education for the Foundation. In this role she develops and edits educational materials for patients and community outreach projects.

Kristen is a registered respiratory therapist, certified asthma educator, and medical writer. Prior to joining the Foundation, she designed and implemented one of the first comprehensive asthma education programs in the Chicago suburbs, providing inpatient, outpatient, and community-based education for patients and families. Kristen served a term on the National Asthma Educator Certification Board, where she collaborated with medical professionals from all disciplines and backgrounds. As a medical writer, she developed numerous continuing education classes for health care providers, wrote study guides for national level board exams, and has presented lectures for health care providers on the management of asthma and allergies. Kristen also serves as an author and faculty member on a web-based nursing education forum.

Kristen has Bachelor of Science degree in respiratory care from National-Louis University.


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Stephanie Williams, RT
Senior Director of Community Education Programs


Stephanie Williams is the Senior Director of Community Education Programs for the COPD Foundation. In this role she works to make the COPD Foundation programs accessible to those in the COPD community. This includes managing the COPD Readmissions Institutes for health care professionals, designing programs such as virtual Harmonicas for Health, and engaging the COPD community through educational webinars, social media events, blog posts, and more.

Over the course of her career, Stephanie has designed and implemented pulmonary rehabilitation and respiratory programs in a variety of patient care settings. Prior to joining the Foundation, Stephanie was the Director of Clinical Education and Clinical Effectiveness at Alana HealthCare in Nashville, Tennessee where she ensured staff respiratory therapists’ education was current while also developing educational programs for patients enrolled in both the home and facility-based non-invasive ventilation program. Stephanie was also the Director of Cardiopulmonary for White County Community Hospital where she started a pulmonary rehab program, a support group for COPD patients in the community, and a smoking cessation program.

She is a registered respiratory therapist and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Tennessee Technological University.


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Julie Yates
Senior Research Director


Julie Yates is the Foundation's Senior Research Director. In this role, Julie currently works with the COPD Foundation Nebulizer Consortium and several of the COPD360 research activities including SPIROMICS, COPDGene and the MAP COPD study. Julie is also the PI of COPD Patient-Powered Research Network.

Prior to joining the COPD Foundation, Julie was a Senior Director of Clinical Development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Pharmaceuticals. During her career at GSK, she managed key global outcome and disease understanding studies in the respiratory therapeutic area including the TORCH, SUMMIT and ECLIPSE studies. Julie has significant experience in collaborating with external experts on study oversight activities as well as on Food and Drug Administration interactions.

Julie has a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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Nicholas Locantore
Senior Director of Digital Data Integration and Statistics


Nick has more than 20 years of experience in clinical research, statistical consulting, and digital data integration. At the Foundation, Nick is primarily engaged with the Patient Powered Research Network (PPRN).


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