In his closing remarks from the California Asthma Summit on Thursday, December 6th, Rick Kreutzer of the CA Department of Public Health said that perhaps next time the summit should be called the California “Asthmas” Summit. Asthma presents itself differently for each individual and the asthma experience, from triggers to symptoms to onset, varies greatly between different individuals and different populations. Perhaps, we are really working to eliminate “asthmas,” rather than “asthma.”
Our Collaborating Data Scientist, Meredith Barrett, and I were happy to attend this incredible event put on by California Breathing of the CA Department of Public Health. They brought in an all-star line-up of presenting researchers, activists, and, best of all, researcher activists. These presenters shared their research and work related to understanding, controlling and preventing many kinds of “asthmas.”
Some of our favorite moments…
- Dr. Rosalind Wright kicking off the summit with an amazing presentation on psychosocial stressors and asthma. Her cohort of inner city mothers in Boston found that 85% of these women had experienced serious trauma. Great discussion of stress management, mindfulness, and even yoga as treatments for asthma!
- Dr. Rob McConnell from USC tackling communities with housing built close to high volume traffic roads through innovative longitudinal study. He described the challenges of making the research actionable in the political arena.
- Dr. Kim Knowlton from the Natural Resources Defense Council giving an incredibly clear and accessible presentation on climate change, focusing on both prevention and preparedness for public health departments.
- Dr. Phil Martein from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District talking about the San Francisco Community Risk Reduction Plan and challenging the audience to find better, more timely data on asthma prevalence. We especially loved this last challenge as finding new, timely, relevant data is what we’re all about at Asthmapolis!
- One of our advisors, Dr. Fernando Holguin of the Asthma Institute, University of Pittsburgh, giving a provocative talk on the link between obesity and asthma. The chicken or the egg — or the association at all — appears to depend on age of onset.
- Dr. Rebecca Sutton of the Environmental Working Group schooling the crowd on what’s really in our home and institutional cleaning products. They’ve even developed a handy new healthy cleaning products guide.
- Dr. Jim Krieger from Seattle and King County Health Department presenting on the innovative, extremely effective Health Homes program – centering on community health worker home visits. He prompted the crowd — how do we get health plans and insurers to pay for this?
- Dr. Bob Harrison sharing a personal story of his patient who developed work-related asthma on the job as a janitor at UCSF. It inspired a provocative discussion of hesitancy to report work-related asthma in a difficult economy.
- Drs. Jyothi Marbin and Gena Lewis lighting up the room with the success of the smart, simple, CEASE smoking cessation program for parents used by the pediatric department at Children’s Hospital Oakland.
- Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills of the University of Virginia sending us home with a head full of new questions after his controversial “new directions for asthma research” presentation. The presentation linked together deep breathing, physical activity, the ” trance” of the TV, nano-medical technology, and sensitization through the skin.
It was fantastic to spend these two days chatting with such motivated and passionate researchers, health professionals, community practitioners and other asthma advocates.
If you have any questions or comments about our experience at the summit or would like to follow up with us about working together, please feel free to contact me.