Why the Urgency?

The UCSF Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, and Sleep Medicine Division is dedicated to the prevention and cure of lung diseases, and improving the outcomes and quality of life for our patients.

As we probe the underlying causes and mechanisms of these diseases, the facts remain sobering:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.
  • The total direct and indirect economic cost of lung disease in the United States in 2010 has been estimated at $186 billion.
  • Respiratory disease is currently the only leading cause of death that has risen in incidence, rather than fallen, in recent decades.
  • Worldwide, respiratory infections exact a greater health burden than any other single category of disease.
  • Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis claims as many lives each year as breast cancer.
  • There are no curative treatments for asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and acute lung injury, the four most common pulmonary afflictions.