Better Breathing Conference and Breathe!
Take a moment and… Breathe!
More than 270 people gathered for the second annual Breathe! event held at Toronto’s newly
renovated Eglinton Grand Theatre to raise money for lung health research. Guests enjoyed a delicious
gourmet dinner and an enviable silent auction before settling in to enjoy the award winning science
writer and guest speaker, whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah
Magazine; Discover and many other publications, Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of
Henrietta Lacks. Skloot told the riveting story of her journey with the Lacks’ family and the creation of
her book…Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco
farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in
medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.
Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her
family still can’t afford health insurance.
Soon to be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, this New York Times bestseller
takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the
1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying
hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and
struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the
collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter
consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the
dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over
whether we control the stuff we’re made of.
“The event raised more than $89,000 in net revenues, which will go toward supporting The Lung
Association’s existing research program,” said Dr. John Granton, Board member and Chair of the
Breathe! began last year thanks in large part to a three-year pledge from Pfizer Canada. The firm’s
$300,000 gift launched two Ontario Lung Association-Pfizer Canada research grants, given to lung health
investigators here in Ontario. Recognition of this year’s recipients, Dr. Lianne Singer and Dr. Bernard Le
Foll was one of the highlights at the Breathe! event.
Better Breathing Conference
Physicians from all over the province gathered in Toronto for the Better Breathing Conference, which
celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Dr. Jae Yang, Chair of the Ontario Thoracic Society stream for
the Better Breathing Conference joined Ontario Lung Association Board Chair Kelly Muñoz in welcoming
guests during the opening plenary session. The keynote address by Dr. James Mahony and Dr. David
Manson examined emerging technologies in respiratory care, focusing on molecular technology and its
impact on diagnosis and treatment, as well as contemporary imaging of the lungs.
The mid-morning OTS/ORCS Joint Session, “What’s New in Lung Health” featured presentations on
“Pulmonary Fibrosis – Progress is Slow but it is Happening” , “Supportive Care Needs of Individuals with
Lung Cancer” and “Patient Can’t Breathe: Is it the Heart or the Lungs? Puffers or Diuretics?”
During lunch on Friday, interactive sessions included: “Fluid Resuscitation in the Critically Ill” by Dr.
Sheldon Magder, a renowned cardiologist from Montreal, “Approach to Massive Pulmonary Embolism –
Supporting the Right Ventricle” by Dr. John Granton, an expert in pulmonary arterial hypertension and
the André Péloquin Case Presentations, given by community respirologists.
The Friday “State of the Art in Respiratory Medicine” afternoon program featured presentations on
“What is New In Asthma Therapy” by Dr. Parameswaran Nair (Hamilton) and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow
and Tomorrow: The New Age of Therapeutics in Pulmonary Vasculitis, a Rheumatologist’s Perspective”
by Dr. Nadar Khalidi (Hamilton). The popular, humbling and entertaining Resident Case Presentations,
facilitated by Dr. Lori Whitehead (Hamilton), followed. Residents in training presented complex cases
that were judged by leading community respirologists. Jacqueline Sandoz from the University of Ottawa
won the competition for the 2011 Keith Morgan Award in Excellence.
Saturday morning saw the return of the ever-popular and provocative debates: “Controversies in
Pulmonary Medicine”, chaired by Dr. Shawn Aaron (Ottawa). This year's speakers included controversial
statements: “All Early COPD Should be Treated “ (Dr. Denis O’Donnell and Dr. Matthew Stanbrook);
“Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Eradication is useful in Cystic Fibrosis” (Dr. Felix Ratjen and Dr. Joe Reisman)
and “Rationing Should not Be Part of Universal Healthcare” (Dr. Robert Butcher and Dr. Allan Detsky).
The debates were spirited and thought provoking. The OTS/OLA Research Update, “Pulmonary
Rehabilitation – Past and Future” was presented by Dr. Roger Goldstein (Toronto).
The Better Breathing Conference is an annual event which provides a platform to recognize the work of
many OTS members and volunteers. Dr. John Bertley (St. Catharines) received the Ontario Lung
Association’s Meritorious Service Award for his many years of dedication and contribution to the OLA
and the OTS. Dr. Michael Hutcheon (Toronto) received the OTS Honourary Life Membership Award for
his contributions to lung health and the respiratory community. As well, the Cameron C. Gray Fellowship
Award for 2011-2012 was presented to Dr. Sunita Mulpuru from Ottawa. The fellowship helps fund a
resident’s third year of respiratory training.
To complement the conference, several satellite sessions were offered including a presentation on how
to integrate smoking cessation into primary practice by Dr. Peter Selby and a look at COPD in Ontario by
Dr. Charles Chan.
Next year’s Better Breathing Conference will be held January 26 - 28, 2012.
Be sure to look for the exciting program in the fall of 2011.
Volume 23, Number 1 Winter 2010-2011 Ontario Thoracic Reviews