The LAM Foundation Announces New Leadership

Posted on February 12, 2021   |   

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Thank you for joining us to celebrate an important leadership change within our community.  After 25 years of devoted service, Dr. Frank McCormack has decided to step down from his current role with the Foundation and will become Emeritus Scientific Director. Dr. Nishant Gupta has been named as The LAM Foundation Scientific Director, joining the Board of Directors and becoming the first LAM Foundation Professorship for LAM Research at the University of Cincinnati (UC). 

We are incredibly fortunate to have such depth of scientific and clinical leadership and engagement.   This transition reflects the strength of the LAM Community, the hope of all its constituents, and the perseverance and planning that has now assured the Foundation will have access to scientific and clinical leadership into the future.

Everyone has a special “Frank Moment” in which Dr. McCormack has had a meaningful impact on our lives.  To thank him for his service, passion, intention, and the countless lives he’s touched, please add your personal messages and pictures to our living tribute.

SHARE YOUR MESSAGE OF GRATITUDE

To acknowledge Dr. McCormack’s incredible accomplishments and investment in the future of LAM science, an annual LAM research award has been named in his honor: The Francis X. McCormack Career Development Award.  Join us in honoring him by contributing in his name.

DONATE IN DR. MCCORMACK'S HONOR

 

To hear more about the transition, please explore these letters from Dr. McCormack, Dr. Gupta, and The LAM Foundation Executive Director & CEO, and Board of Directors.

Letter from Frank McCormack, MDplus

If you would like to download the official PDF of this letter, click here.

Dear Members of the LAM Community;

I am thrilled to announce that the LAM Professorship for LAM Research was established at the University of Cincinnati on December 16, 2020, and soon thereafter Dr. Nishant Gupta was named to the Chair. Nishant has been intimately involved with LAM science and clinical care for over a decade, seeing LAM patients in clinic, serving as a reviewer for grants, obtaining funding for LAM from multiple sources, publishing important works, and leading independent studies and NIH trials. I have complete confidence in him, his instincts, his talents and his commitment to LAM, and I cannot think of a more deserving person to hold the LAM Chair. I would like to thank all who made this possible, including the TLF Community, the TLF Board, Sue Sherman and Molly Long, the Hoy and Crissey Families, and Dean Filak and the Hagin Family Match Fund Program at the University of Cincinnati.

The establishment of the Chair is an amazing accomplishment for the LAM community that will ensure consistent scientific leadership into the future. This is also an opportune moment for an important transition. After 25 years as the volunteer LAM Scientific Director, I have informed the Board that I feel it is time for the new ideas and energy that new scientific leadership will bring. This decision is very difficult for me, but my motivation is simple and sincere; I believe it is in the best interest of the organization. Serving the LAM community has been a singular privilege and a source of immeasurable joy and fulfillment that I would not have traded for the world.

I was informed this evening that the LAM Board has appointed Nishant the new Scientific Director of the LAM Foundation, which gives me great comfort that I have left this position in the best of hands. He will impress you with his vision and insights, and I am confident that he is going to take LAM science to the next level. At the same time, I am not retiring from medicine, science or LAM, and I have no intention of saying good-bye. I hope to assume an Emeritus Scientific Director role, help out where I can be useful, and continue to serve as a rank and file member of the Scientific Advisory Board. These decisions are up to the Board of Directors, of course, but I have confidence that they will find the best path forward for all of us.

 

I am so proud of all of the scientific accomplishments we have achieved together over the last quarter century, including the establishment of a committed scientific advisory board and community of investigators, an effective and fair mechanism to fund the most promising science, an astounding body of molecular knowledge that formed the basis for trials, a clinical research network to conduct them, a highly engaged world-wide network of LAM clinics and passionate clinicians, a diagnostic test, an effective, FDA approved therapy, international guidelines for management, and now an endowed Chair. It was not so long ago that we felt helpless in front of LAM families in our clinics, replaced now by the joy of greeting new patients with such a hopeful message. The engine behind all of our successes has been the remarkable level of engagement of the LAM community and the driving determination of our clinicians and scientists to help the daughters, sisters, and mothers who have entrusted us with the mission of getting their lives back.

I would like to thank the members of the LAM Scientific Advisory and Governing Boards who have worked so hard to guide this remarkable organization through recessions, pandemics and transitions, and all members of the LAM Community who have enriched my life over the last 25 years. I hope to have the privilege of continuing to serve you well into the future.

Sincerely,

Frank McCormack, M.D.

 

Letter from Nishant Gupta, MDplus

If you would like to download the official PDF of this letter, click here.

Dear members of the LAM community,

It is an absolute honor and a privilege for me to accept the LAM Professorship. I am grateful for The LAM Foundation and the entire LAM community who made this position possible. Most importantly, I want to express my sincere gratitude towards Frank McCormack for being my mentor, for bringing me to this field, and for teaching me not only about the science but also the guiding principles and philosophies that he lives by every single day and that have formed the bedrock of the tremendous success that he and the LAM community have been able to achieve.

We have so much to celebrate over the past 25 years: vastly improved understanding of LAM, development of a blood-based test that can help establish the diagnosis without a lung biopsy, a well-formed clinic network that ensures quality clinical care to LAM patients, and most importantly, the discovery and subsequent regulatory approval of sirolimus as a treatment of LAM. This is a mountain of achievements that most rare disease communities don’t get to see in a generation. As much as this success is a testament to the dedication, resilience, fortitude, and never-say-die attitude embodied by the LAM community; in equal parts this highlights the vision, direction and leadership of its main architect, Frank McCormack, without whom we would not be where we are. In that sense, I have a lot in common with the LAM community: both of us owe a large part of our success to Frank!

As I prepare to assume more responsibilities with this new position, I want everyone to know that I will do my level best to carry forward the philosophies that have served us so well over the past 25 years. The guiding principles for me will be: single-minded focus on the goal towards finding a cure for LAM, keeping patients at the front and center of every decision, generous attitude towards sharing that helps accelerate scientific discoveries, and full transparency with the LAM community. There will undoubtedly be scenarios where I will need assistance and I am thankful that we have a well-established group of experts in the form of our Scientific Advisory Board as well as The LAM Foundation Board of Directors to provide the necessary guidance.

Working on LAM has been the greatest professional satisfaction of my career, and it is my goal to use our current position as a launching pad to propel us towards even greater achievements in the pursuit of our mission to ultimately finding a cure for LAM. As we move into this next phase, I promise to maintain a sense of urgency towards our goal, to serve with humility, and to always keep my door open for the LAM community.

Sincerely,

Nishant Gupta, M.D.

Letter from The LAM Foundationplus

Richard Branson once wrote, “Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision, and change.” As we continue creating the success story of The LAM Foundation, we are writing to share an important change within our community. It is one that combines the heartache of parting with hope for the future. After 25 years of devoted service to women with LAM, their families, and the scientific and medical communities that support them, Dr. Frank McCormack has decided to step down from his current role with the Foundation, as the volunteer Scientific Director, taking on the new role of Emeritus Scientific Director. Dr. Nishant Gupta has been named as the new LAM Foundation Scientific Director, joining the Board of Directors. He also becomes the first person to hold The LAM Foundation Professorship for LAM Research at the University of Cincinnati (UC).

Change is rarely easy, but this transition was foreseen and planned for over the past few years. Largely due to Dr. McCormack’s vision, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to the LAM community, the LAM Foundation Professorship position at UC was established, assuring that the Foundation will have access to scientific and clinical leadership into the future. This is the first endowed professorship of its kind for the UC College of Medicine; a reflection of the remarkable accomplishments of the past, and confidence in the future. In Dr. Gupta, we are fortunate to have a gifted clinician and LAM researcher whose passion will invigorate LAM science as we look forward. Drs. McCormack and Gupta will work together to ensure a seamless transition and robust support for the LAM community. We are incredibly fortunate to have such depth of scientific and clinical leadership and engagement.

Dr. McCormack shared thoughts about his transition with the Board, saying, “The establishment of the Professorship is an amazing accomplishment for the LAM community that will ensure consistent scientific leadership into the future. Nishant has been intimately involved with LAM science and clinical care for over a decade, seeing LAM patients in clinic, serving as a grant reviewer, obtaining funding for LAM from multiple sources, publishing important works, and leading independent studies and NIH trials. I have complete confidence in him, his instincts, his talents and his commitment to LAM, and I cannot think of a more deserving person.”

Upon acceptance of the role, Dr. Gupta said, “The guiding principles for me will be a single-minded focus on the goal towards finding a cure for LAM, keeping patients at the front and center of every decision, generous attitude towards sharing that helps accelerate scientific discoveries, and full transparency with the LAM community.”

Transitions like these allow us to take stock of all we have achieved together, and specifically to consider the momentous impact of one man, Dr. Frank McCormack. Making rare lung diseases, and specifically LAM, the focus of his career, he has had an incredibly meaningful impact on people all over the world. As one patient said of her experience with Frank, “I learned what it was to be included in the life of a man who cares for his patients and their families as if they were all extended family.” He has extended lives, created a worldwide network of LAM clinics, advanced numerous multi-center clinical trials from MILES to MILED, and freely shared information and best practices ensuring better care for all LAM patients. Most importantly, Frank created hope where there once was none. Frank is responsible for bringing this rare disease from the shadows to the forefront, changing the trajectory of our understanding and treatment of LAM.

As part of Frank’s passion for leading, inspiring, and expanding promising LAM research, he has consistently encouraged young scientists and clinicians to study LAM. He has coached and supported future leaders who now pursue the cure we desperately need. To acknowledge his investment in the future of the science, we are naming an annual LAM research award in his honor: The Francis X. McCormack Career Development Award. With this award, Frank’s legacy of sharing and support of others will continue, with lasting impact on all of us. In the words of Dr. Nishant Gupta, “I want to express my sincere gratitude towards Frank McCormack for being my mentor, for bringing me to this field, and for teaching me not only about the science but also the guiding principles and philosophies that he lives by every single day and that have formed the bedrock of the tremendous success that he and the LAM community have been able to achieve.”

Board Chair Chuck Wehland summed it up saying, “This is a momentous occasion. Frank has been an integral part of the Foundation since its founding 25 years ago.” All of us at The LAM Foundation are grateful to Frank and confident in Nishant’s leadership moving forward. This transition reflects the strength of our community, the stability of the Foundation, and the hope we all carry for a bright future. Said Sue Sherman, Executive Director & CEO, “Working with Frank has shown me how one person can change the lives of thousands, through compassion, curiosity and dogged persistence – and a great sense of humor.”

Please join us in thanking Frank for his many years of service, the passion and intention with which he built the Foundation, and the countless lives he’s touched. Though it’s incredibly challenging to find the words to recognize and thank him, we encourage you to add personal messages and pictures to our living tribute by clicking the button above.

Sincere Regards,

Sue Sherman, CEO

Chuck Wehland, Board Chair & The LAM Foundation Board of Directors

 

 

Press Release from the University of Cincinnati Foundationplus

If you would like to download the official PDF of this letter, click here.



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