A recent article on the University of New Mexico’s athletics news page profiles the return of a former UNM alumnus who earned both her education and legacy as a star soccer player for the school who is now helping to launch a new Pulmonary Hypertensive clinic and program at the school’s Health Science Center. However, the return of Dr. Lana Melendres-Groves to UNM is not about garnering more accolades for her illustrious career as a collegiate soccer star, but rather to help treat patients with pulmonary hypertension and be part of the effort to develop new treatment methods for the disease.
Currently an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at UNM HSC, Dr. Melendres-Groves graduated from UNM and went on to earn her post-doctorate degree in pulmonary vascular disease in Stanford. After finishing her academic career, she made her way back to Albuquerque in 2011-2012 with the goal of developing a PH clinical and program at the health science center that could contribute to the effort of addressing the unmet needs of pulmonary hypertension.
According to the University of New Mexico Lobos news page, Dr. Melendres-Groves explained her motivation for setting her sights on research and treatment of PH in a phone interview. “What struck me was that there were 30- to 40-year-old women – healthy women who were just starting families, like me – that were being diagnosed with this incurable disease,” she said, adding, “At the time, there wasn’t a specific place for these people to go in the state. I was seeing a need that wasn’t being met, and that’s what drove me to get involved.”
Dr. Melendres-Groves’ observation is one that advocacy groups such as the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and other fundraising and awareness events, such as “Team PHenomenal Hope’s” compelling cross-country bike trek to raise money awareness for fighting the disease share, seeking to draw more attention to the devastatingly high mortality rate and diminished quality of life associated with PH. Thanks to the passion and commitment of Dr. Melendres-Groves, the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine boasts an impressive staff and program for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
The UNM Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine can be contacted here.