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.
Sue Sherman, CEO
Chuck Wehland, Board Chair & The LAM Foundation Board of Directors