University of Pittsburgh
October 4, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 5 -- A $5 million gift from Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine will be used to establish a center for education and research on interstitial lung disease, and an endowed chair on pulmonary research, both in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine.

Interstitial lung disease is characterized by inflammation and fibrosis, or scarring, of the lungs. It encompasses several types of lung diseases, including occupational lung disease, and lung disease caused by rheumatological problems.

The Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Research and Education in Interstitial Lung Disease will concentrate on three major areas: patient education, patient care, and research. Center activities will include coordination of patient support groups, fostering education, providing physician referral assistance and information about existing therapeutic modalities, and conducting research aimed at better understanding the inflammation and fibrosis processes and designing new therapeutic modalities to address them.

The Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Chair for Pulmonary Research will be an endowed professorship in the School of Medicine. The faculty member holding the chair will be a nationally recognized researcher specializing in the two major components of lung disease, lung inflammation and lung fibrosis.

"The University of Pittsburgh is profoundly grateful for this extraordinarily generous and very well targeted gift," Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said. "Mr. and Mrs. Simmons have long been known for their complementary commitments to the cause of human health and the progress of Western Pennsylvania. As we enter what already is being called the 'century of biology,' the funds that they have provided will enable the University to create a national center of excellence aimed specifically at alleviating the human suffering caused by interstitial lung disease. The beneficiaries of this center's work will include patients here in our home region and around the world. The fact that we soon will be able to embark on this important initiative is exciting, and the fact that this gift has come from individuals a highly respected and well liked as the Simmons makes this exceptional donation even more special to the University."

"This new center will enable us to build on our existing strengths and exciting recent developments in therapy to design even more effective therapeutic modalities, which will benefit patients both locally and nationally," said Dr. Augustine Choi, head of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. "And the generosity of Dorothy and Richard Simmons will certainly encourage others to contribute to this cause."

Richard P. Simmons is the retired chairman, president, and CEO of Allegheny Teledyne Inc., and is a former trustee of the University of Pittsburgh.