For Release: November 16, 2007
Contact: Deborah Kimbell 603-653-0877

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Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Honors DMS Experts

Dr. Gerald O'Connor
Dr. Gerald O'Connor

HANOVER, NH—Two Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) researchers who have advanced outcomes research and clinical practice have received national awards from the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation. The honors were announced at the 2007 North American CF Conference, a meeting of more than 3,500 national and international researchers and clinicians in cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Gerald O'Connor, professor of medicine and of community and family medicine, received the Richard C. Talamo Distinguished Clinical Achievement Award. He is the director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice's education program and also an associate dean for DMS.

Hebe Quinton received the inaugural Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Quality Improvement Award. She is a research associate in medicine at DMS and is also affiliated with the Institute.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). In 1955, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was created by a group of parents looking for a means to cure and control CF. Fifty years ago, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, 44 percent of the CF population is age 18 or older, and many people with the disease live into their late 30s, and beyond.

The Richard C. Talamo award is given to individuals "who have spent their careers researching and caring for patients with cystic fibrosis and whose contributions have had significant influence on the course of the disease," according to Preston W. Campbell, executive vice president for medical affairs at the CF Foundation, who made the award to O'Connor.

Campbell hailed O'Connor as one of the founders of the Northern New England CF Consortium (NNECFC) with a mission to collaborate, share outcomes, and improve CF care. The CF Foundation patient registry was used to analyze and compare outcomes in order to understand and ultimately improve results across the region.

Expanding on that work, O'Connor led a national strategy that has improved care and increased survival for those living with CF, said Campbell. "We could not have done this without ... the wisdom, patience, persistence and vision of Gerry O'Connor to open our eyes to the opportunity before us," he said.

Hebe Quinton, recipient of the first Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Quality Improvement Award, has been a close colleague of O'Connor's since 1992 and was instrumental in working with him to develop the NNECFC and data registry. The award was presented by Bruce Marshall, vice-president of clinical affairs at the Foundation.

Quinton's contributions led to her recognition with the newly created award, designed to honor "individuals who have made a difference in the lives of people with cystic fibrosis by the application of improvement science," Marshall said.

According to Marshall, the work of Quinton and O'Connor "unlocked the variability in care across the country, a critical milestone in setting the stage for the quality improvement initiative."


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