Patient Advocate in Latin America Wins Team PHenomenal Hope Research Grant

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by Mary Chapman |

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Team PHenomenal Hope grant

Paula Menezes has been awarded a $50,000 PHenomenal Impact Fund for Global PH Research grant to identify challenges faced by pulmonary hypertension (PH) patients and caregivers in parts of Latin America.

Menezes’ project proposal is titled “Living with Pulmonary Hypertension in Latin America: A Patient’s Perspective,” and she will use the grant to analyze the needs of 22,600 people affected by PH in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. Menezes will interview patients, healthcare providers, and parents of children with the disorder to better understand patients’ quality of life and outcomes.

Study results are expected to inform public and private efforts to improve the lives of PH patients. They also will foster development of a global Team PHenomenal Hope project aimed at spurring stakeholders in Latin America to better assistant to  PH community there.

“We were extremely impressed with the quality of submissions for this funding opportunity, but Ms. Menezes’s stood out to the reviewers as truly aligning with the mission of Team PHenomenal Hope by contributing to the field of pulmonary hypertension, and also advocating for patients,” Hap Farber, MD, research committee chair, said in a press release.

This is the second award for the  annual grant program established by Team PHenomenal Hope, which works to improve the lives of those with PH. It is estimated that more than 25 million people globally live with the condition.

The award was announced at the first Team PHenomenal Hope Research Town Hall, attended virtually by more than 70 people from 10 countries. The July 11 virtual meeting included presentations by prominent PH researchers, and a question-and-answer period for patients and other community members.

Menezes, a lawyer, received a post-graduate degree in patient advocacy from Austral University, in Buenos Aires. She is working on a master of business administration degree in health technology assessment at a Sao Paulo university, and was a caregiver for her mother, who died from PH complications in 2007. Her father founded the Brazilian Pulmonary Hypertension and Related Diseases Association.

The research award program supports investigations in basic or translational science, clinical research, and clinical need. It offers grants of $50,000 for yearlong projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life and medical care of people with PH.

Now in its second year, the contest is open to citizens of countries that have a Team PHenomenal Hope chapter — including the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and South Africa. The award program was established in 2016 with $50,000 raised by the PH patient community and Team PHenomenal Hope athletes — volunteer endurance athletes from around the world who continue to support the PHenomenal Impact Fund for Global PH Research.

The organization’s award steering committee selects winners based on scientific merit, originality, feasibility, and/or clinical applicability to the diagnosis and treatment of PH. The proposal must be achievable within a 12-month period, and within the $50,000 fiscal allocation.

Vineet Agrawal and Anna Hemnes won last year for their proposal, “A Pathogenic Role for Natriuretic Peptide Receptor-C in Modulating Pulmonary Hypertension and Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction.” Among other results, the study found that the natriuretic peptide receptor C signaling pathway was a promising therapeutic target in right ventricular dysfunction in PH.

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