ATS Foundation Honors Donohue for Commitment to Research

James F. Donohue, MD, (left) accepts the Breathing for Life Award from ATS Foundation Chair Dean Schraufnagel.

James F. Donohue, MD, (left) accepts the Breathing for Life Award from ATS Foundation Chair Dean Schraufnagel.

James F. Donohue, MD, has spent a lifetime putting patients first. His commitment to them, in combination with his dedication to finding better treatment options for them, has earned him the highest honor bestowed by the ATS Foundation. On Saturday, the Foundation presented Dr. Donohue with the Breathing for Life Award at its 10th Annual Research Program Benefit at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

The Foundation’s Breathing for Life Award recognizes philanthropy, scientific achievement, and commitment to mentorship.

Dr. Donohue is division director emeritus of pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

He played a major role in building the pulmonary diseases and critical care division at UNC Chapel Hill. He was the second physician to join the division in 1976 and served as division chief from 2002 to 2011. Today, the division has 32 faculty members and 11 fellows.

Known as a master clinician and clinical scientist, Dr. Donohue led trials of the most commonly used inhaled therapies for COPD and asthma.

Dr. Donohue chaired the ATS Foundation from 2010 to 2016. During that time, annual contributions to the Research Program nearly tripled to $1 million, and the number of research grants awarded doubled.

Commenting on his decision to accept the offer to chair the ATS Foundation, Dr. Donohue said, ” I knew the generosity of the pulmonary community was going to be outstanding, and it really was. We all deeply believe in the need for research and a new generation of investigators.”

In the past decade, the Research Program has awarded $17.6 million in grants to 235 investigators who have gone on to secure $268 million in federal funding.

Those dollars are critical because research is critical, said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, chair of the ATS Foundation.

“Whether you’re just starting out in your career, mentoring young researchers, or treating patients who benefit from research, we all know this to be true: research changes lives,” Dr. Schraufnagel said, just before presenting Dr. Donohue with the award.

The ATS Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Research Program grant cycle. Letters of intent are due by June 12, 2018.

The ATS Foundation thanks Genentech for support of the 10th Annual ATS Foundation Research Program Benefit at the Sapphire Level; AstraZeneca LP and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. at the Gold Level; FREEMAN, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Insmed Incorporated, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., Theravance Biopharma, and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals at the Silver Level; and Ascend Integrated Media, Grifols, National Board for Respiratory Care, Novartis Pharma AG, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Circassia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and GlaxoSmithKline at the Bronze Level.

For the most up-to-date list of generous donations from individuals, medical institutions, and corporate supporters of the ATS Foundation, visit