Zhiyu Dai, Pheonix, Arizona
I first attended a PHA Conference in 2016. At the time, I was in my postdoctoral training in lung vascular biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My mentor Dr. You-Yang Zhao recommended that I attend the PHA 2016 Conference since it was a conference that specifically focused on pulmonary hypertension (PH) and that was small enough to be able to personally interact with those around me. I also attended the PHA Conference in 2018.
Though I am not able to go to Conference this year, I have encouraged my colleagues who are PHA members to attend. It is a great way to get connected to both those in the medical field and to patients.
Working in the lab, I don’t really get a chance to see patients as often as those practicing medicine. Attending Conference, you see patients who are carrying oxygen tanks and other gear, who travel to get to Conference, and, as a researcher, it makes you understand better how the disease you are studying causes problems in humans’ lives.
At Conference 2018, I met a patient from China who had a double lung and heart transplant due to her PH. She told me how many people in China did not know about PH, even though some suffered PH because of COPD or other lung diseases. We talked about how she organized many events to raise awareness and how she did a lot of advocacy work on behalf of the patient community.
It can be easy to get frustrated when we submit grants that get rejected or when experiments do not work out. But talking to patients is a unique experience that I have from attending these meetings that keep me motivated to continue my research and find a cure for patients with PH.