PHA Awards 12 PH Community Service Projects

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) has awarded 12 community activists with the 2015 Tom Lantos Innovation in Community Service Award. The awardees, who will receive $5,000 each, are heading projects that are committed to raising awareness about pulmonary hypertension (PH).

The Tom Lantos Innovation in Community Service Awards were created in order to support new ideas and opportunities among the PH community and help advance both research and awareness regarding the disease, for which there is currently no cure. PH causes abnormal functioning of the lungs and heart, causing shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting and chronic fatigue, and potentially heart failure.

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Among the winners is a mobile app featuring an informational series of cartoon videos for children called Lips Painted Blue, which received a Tom Lantos Innovation in Community Service Award in 2012 as well. A program that aims to bring together community members, faith-based organizations and the PHA for the development of culturally sensitive materials that raise awareness about the disease among the African American community was also awarded.

In addition, the association recognized international projects from several countries, including China and Hungary, which were created to empower governments to raise PH awareness. A mascot made by the Hellenic Pulmonary Hypertension Association in Greece, named Pongo, was also recognized for its mission of providing hope to those affected by the burden of PH.

“At PHA, we believe those whose lives are touched by this terrible disease deserve a chance to fight back.  We have nurtured a community of strong and passionate advocates to advance the cause of finding a cure for pulmonary hypertension,” stated the president and CEO of PHA, Rino Aldrighetti, in a press release. “Tom Lantos was a strong supporter of the PH community and we continue to honor his legacy by advancing awareness in his name.”

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This year, the association has announced the recognition of 12 projects from five different countries other than the United States and Puerto Rico. The Lantos Award program is financed through an unrestricted grant from the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences and the awardees are selected after the review of the applications by an independent committee of PHA community members and community leaders.

Last year, the PHA awarded 13 projects with the same award. Among them was an artist in Fresno, California who focused on using art to create a lasting image of the PH struggle and the need for better treatments and a cure. Perry Mamigonian is a mosaic artist working with members of the PH Patient Support Group in Fresno to design and complete a sprawling mosaic themed around the issue of PH awareness, to be permanently displayed in the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.