Media Advisory

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Scientific Meeting on Pulmonary Hypertension December 7-8 —

Leading Scientists to Discuss Associated Diseases and Novel Therapies.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is convening a scientific conference this week to explore the latest evidence regarding pulmonary hypertension. "Evolution of Pulmonary Hypertension: Emerging Diseases and Novel Therapeutics Meeting" is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the NIH Office of Rare Diseases, and the Clinical Center Critical Care Medicine Department.


Pulmonary hypertension, or continuous high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, is a disabling and often fatal disease, which affects people of all ages — from newborns to seniors. Pulmonary hypertension contributes to an estimated 15,000 deaths in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of the meeting is to foster research collaboration to improve the detection and treatment of pulmonary hypertension.


December 7 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), and December 8 (8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)


NIH Natcher Conference Center, Bethesda, Maryland

More Information

The meeting will include presentations from 30 scientists, academic researchers, physicians, and patient advocates, from around the world.  Scientific sessions will address the pathology of pulmonary hypertension, emerging diseases found to contribute to the development of the disease, current and novel therapies, research opportunities, and future strategies for patient management. Among the NIH intramural scientists presenting at the conference are NHLBI scientists Mark T. Gladwin, M.D., Roberto F. P. Machado, M.D., Gregory Kato, M.D., and Manfred Boehm, M.D, and Henry Masur, M.D., of the Clinical Center’s Critical Care Medicine Department.

Other speakers include Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), founders of the Congressional Pulmonary Hypertension Caucus.  Both congressmen have personally witnessed the debilitating effects of pulmonary hypertension through loved ones and are long-time supporters and advocates of pulmonary hypertension research.

"Twenty years ago, there were no effective treatments for patients with pulmonary hypertension, whose life expectancy was only a couple of years following diagnosis," notes NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. "Scientific advances have begun to transform our understanding of this debilitating disease, moving pulmonary hypertension from the ranks of diseases that once were considered to be untreatable to the growing list of conditions for which medical science offers hope of a better quality of life and more years to enjoy it." 

By improving understanding of the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of pulmonary hypertension, scientists have developed therapies that have been shown to help some patients by improving their quality of life and allowing them to live longer. However, patients' responses to therapies vary, so researchers are continuing to explore treatments that address several biological pathways. Recent research has focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in pulmonary vascular remodeling. One area of promise is the use of gene therapy to inhibit and possibly reverse the effects of pulmonary hypertension.

Basic and clinical research studies have also led to increased knowledge of the causes of pulmonary hypertension, enabling scientists to better identify patients at risk. For example, NHLBI-supported researchers have identified a genetic defect linked to pulmonary hypertension. In addition, the scope of conditions associated with pulmonary hypertension, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), obstructive sleep apnea, and sickle cell disease, has widened. Nonetheless, because the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension, such as shortness of breath and unexplained fatigue, are general and often resemble signs of other conditions, many patients remain undiagnosed or are diagnosed only after right heart failure has developed. Improving methods to identify patients at risk and to diagnose patients could lead to earlier and more effective treatment.

Selected presentations:

  • Opening Remarks by Elizabeth Nabel, M.D, NHLBI director; Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA); and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX): Thursday, December 7, 8:00 a.m.
  • Genetics of Pulmonary Hypertension: Role in Pathogenesis and Future Directions of Therapy: Thursday, December 7, 11:35 a.m.
  • Emerging Diseases Associated with Pulmonary Hypertension: Thursday, December 7, 1:00 p.m.
  • Panel presentations and discussion with leading researchers and clinicians on conditions such as HIV, sickle cell disease, chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, respiratory disorders including COPD, liver disease, and viral infection and insulin resistance.
  • Future Therapies: Friday, December 8, 8:05 a.m.
    Panel presentations and discussion with leading researchers and clinicians on novel therapies such as  PDGF (platelet-derived growth factor) inhibitors — antibodies that target cell division, CO gas, nitrite, stem cell therapies, statins, serotonin, and neuropeptides.

Note to Editors

Conference agenda, speaker biographies and abstracts, and other details are available at  To arrange interviews with speakers and/or to register in advance, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at (301) 496-4236 or at  Reporters can also register onsite at the conference.

Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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