ATS Pays Tribute to Scientists at Opening Ceremony

Three scientists were recognized for their exceptional contributions to medicine and research during the opening ceremony on Saturday. Yvonne J. Huang, MD, received the Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science; Peter Sly, MD, DSc, received the World Lung Health Award; and Dona Upson, MD, received the Public Service Award.

 Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science

Yvonne J. Huang

Yvonne J. Huang

Dr. Huang’s research on the role of the microbiome in airway disease phenotypes has led to new insights and hypotheses, and her cystic fibrosis expertise has contributed to understanding microbiome-disease-phenotype relationships across chronic inflammatory airway diseases.

She has co-led a number of investigations of the lower airway microbiome in asthma and COPD, including multicenter studies performed by the NHLBI-sponsored Asthma Clinical Research Network and AsthmaNet, and more recently in SPIROMICS. Currently, her laboratory at the University of Michigan is applying cross-disciplinary translational approaches, including in vitro, ex vivo and computational methods, to understand microbiome interactions that shape asthma and the COPD phenotype.

Dr. Huang has served on numerous committees and panels regarding microbiome science and respiratory disease, including for the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. She received a Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the ATS-Allergy, Immunology & Inflammation  Assembly Early Career Achievement Award.

World Lung Health Award

Peter Sly

Peter Sly

Dr. Sly of Melbourne, Australia, has been an international leader in pediatric respiratory research for three decades, making major contributions to the understanding of how lung disease begins in early life. From a background in respiratory physiology and clinical pediatric respiratory medicine, Dr. Sly’s research has been instrumental in understanding the major risk factors for the development of asthma and for the initiation and progression of lung disease in infants with cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Sly has been a prominent figure in international public health through his work with the World Health Organization, including his collaboration with the WHO Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants and Health, as well as the establishment and direction of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on Children’s Environmental Health in Perth and the WHO Collaborating Center for Children’s Health and Environment in Brisbane.

His current research interests include preventing asthma, improving the detection of early lung disease in children with cystic fibrosis and improving assessment of adverse environmental exposure in early life.

Public Service Award

Dona Upson

Dona Upson

Dr. Upson has testified before Congress to increase VA research funding, and on the importance of clean air to children’s health; and during local and state hearings. She received the American Lung Association’s Clinton P. Anderson award “for outstanding work and commitment to the citizens of New Mexico” and the Volunteer of the Year award (Albuquerque) for chairing the Air Quality Board. Dr. Upson is working to educate clinicians and the public about electronic nicotine delivery systems, and recently contributed to the New Mexico PBS documentary, “VAPE.”

Dr. Upson has been an active ATS member since 1988 and has served on numerous committees and councils in various positions. She co-founded the LGBTQ Interest Group and is serving her fourth year as chair for the Health Policy Committee and her second year as Section Editor for Health Policy and Financing for AnnalsATS. She works to provide education about electronic nicotine delivery systems and is currently involved in ATS-funded projects to develop clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of tobacco dependence and supplemental oxygen therapy.