David M. Center Receives American Thoracic Society’s Breathing for Life Award

Award is highest honor for society members

David M. Center, winner of the American Thoracic Society’s 2017 Breathing for Life Award. Photo courtesy of the BU School of Medicine

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) Foundation awarded the Breathing for Life Award to David M. Center during the ninth-annual ATS Foundation Research Program Benefit at the ATS International Conference on May 20, 2017. This award is the highest honor given to an ATS member for philanthropy, scientific achievement, and commitment to mentorship.

Center is the Gordon and Ruth Snider Professor of Pulmonary Medicine and associate provost for translational research at the Boston University School of Medicine (MED), where he has served as chair of pulmonary medicine for 30 years; he is also director of the University’s NIH-funded Clinical & Translational Science Institute. He and his research colleague, William Cruikshank, identified T lymphocyte-specific chemotactic factor, now known as Interleukin 16. Their research has opened doors for other researchers interested in allergic diseases, asthma, HIV, and cancer.

In addition to research, Center continues to operate one of Boston Medical Center’s longest-running weekly clinics. He is especially proud of the medical center’s role as a safety-net hospital that cares for patients, including the homeless and recent immigrants.

“I’m truly honored to be receiving the Breathing for Life Award,” says Center, who was also awarded the ATS 2012 Edward Livingston Trudeau Medal for his lifetime contributions to pulmonary medicine. “I feel passionately that all patients deserve the best care; better patient care is what research is all about.”

“Dr. Center is a highly accomplished investigator and clinician. He is tirelessly dedicated to his patients and to his trainees,” says David Coleman, Wade Professor and chairman of the medicine department at MED, and chief of the Division of Medicine at Boston Medical Center. “In addition, he has been a remarkably generous and thoughtful mentor and example for all faculty, particularly those in pulmonary medicine. We are very fortunate and proud to have him as a leader in our institution.”

Throughout his career, Center has led the training of generations of physicians and scientists, many of whom have also become leaders in the field of pulmonary medicine, including Jeffrey Glassroth, dean of clinical affairs at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

“In a world that is growing increasingly specialized, Center remains the legendary ‘triple threat,’” says Glassroth, one of the first fellows to train under Center. “He’s a superb clinician, investigator, and teacher. He’s also a person of tremendous integrity.”

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