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VOL. 132 | NO. 95 | Friday, May 12, 2017

Le Bonheur Pulmonology Chief Wants to Expand Programs, Care

By Andy Meek

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Dr. Patricia Dubin’s mother was a pediatric emergency department nurse. Her father was a general pediatrician.

“One of the focuses of our group is ... to continue to develop our asthma research so we can help the most people in the long term, as well as providing excellent asthma care in the short term.”

–Dr. Patricia Dubin

Growing up in a family like that, steeped in pediatrics, helped likewise set Dubin on a path into the same field. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital hired her at the end of 2016 as the new chief of its pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine efforts, and Dubin has ambitions to expand the hospital’s programs in those and similar areas this year.

“What I’ve mostly been focusing on is program-building,” said Dubin, who also is an associate professor in the department of pediatrics in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine. “I feel like in our division, we have some really excellent talent. We have the start of some excellent programs and some other programs that are already quite well-developed. So I’ve been focused on making sure that care is the best it can be, and that we develop programs in a way they can grow to support the community.”

Dubin said other efforts include working on educational programs for the university’s trainees and integrating the basic science research and researchers at UTHSC and Le Bonheur to work closely with clinical providers on developing a more robust clinical research program.

Her interest in the field, apart from essentially growing up around it, also stems from a more personal connection. She was diagnosed with asthma as a child, one of several factors that led her toward a career of helping children with respiratory problems.

She also remembers being affected during her senior year of undergraduate studies by the death of a favorite professor’s 10-year-old daughter, a child who suffered from cystic fibrosis.

Meanwhile, clinical work with young respiratory patients coming to Le Bonheur from across the region for treatment will be another focus for Dubin. Le Bonheur sees more than 3,500 asthma-related visits each year, according to the hospital.

In the coming months, Dubin also plans to lead pulmonary and sleep medicine program development in areas that include asthma, cancer-related respiratory disease and hematology-related disease, among others.

She came to Le Bonheur from West Virginia University School of Medicine, where she was chief of pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine, as well as serving as the director of the Mountain State Cystic Fibrosis Center.

“When I was looking at this position, I was really struck by just how wonderful the division was and how it fit into the mission of Le Bonheur and serving this community,” Dubin said. “When I interviewed and met the people here, they all seemed to have a very singular mission of creating an environment for excellent pediatric care. They didn’t shy away from taking on some of the toughest problems in pediatric care, and there seemed to be a real mission to work together to provide seamless care – many disciplines working together to get to the right answer.”

The parts of the job that give her the most satisfaction shouldn’t come as a surprise. The identification of problems, selection of treatments and ability to improve lives – the obvious parts of the job that doctors are drawn to – are what drive her. But the opportunity to do research and develop programs here also excites her.

“I really enjoy making a difference for kids and their families,” she said. “I enjoy being able to identify where their problem is and help them fix it.

“I think from a research standpoint, I get excited about helping to build programs that make sense for the patients we take care of. In Memphis, one of the big problems we have is severe and frequent asthma in the population. There’s a lot of asthma in this region. So one of the focuses of our group is really going to be to continue to develop our asthma research so we can help the most people in the long term, as well as providing excellent asthma care in the short term.”

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