The division centers on developing the next generation of leaders in PCCM through its transformative research, comprehensive career development, and world-class care.
The Division roots date to Gerald Webb, MD, and James Waring, MD, two tuberculosis specialists, who in 1924 founded the largest TB sanatorium in the country, the Webb-Waring Lung Institute in Colorado Springs. As a medical student, Dr. Waring contract TB. He interrupted his education at Johns Hopkins University and moved to Colorado to recuperate under the care of Dr. Webb. He later earned his medical degree from the University of Colorado and was the chair of department of medicine from 1933 to 1948. In a span of 23 years—from 1930 to 1953—Drs. Webb and Waring, along with Colorado’s Henry Sewall, MD, a TB researcher and clinician, and Florence Sabin, MD, a preeminent basic science investigator, would win the American Thoracic Society/American Lung Association Edward Livingston Trudeau Medal. The medal recognizes lifelong major contributions to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases through leadership in research, education or clinical care.
Under the second chair of medicine, Gordon Meiklejohn, MD, who served from 1951 to 1975, Roger Mitchell, MD, was recruited in 1955 as the first director of the division of pulmonary sciences and critical care medicine, a post he held until 1970. He won a Trudeau Medal in 1980.
While the division then focused on the development of clinician investigators, its emphasis shifted in 1970 to one of training for academic careers and leadership roles in academic pulmonary medicine.
Boulder born and raised, Thomas Petty, MD, was named division head in 1971. A graduate of the medical school and former trainee under Dr. Mitchell, he led the modern era of the division, time when university physicians made sentinel discoveries.
Henry Claman, MD, who is now emeritus faculty, discovered that the human immune system must have two lymphocytes, T-cells from the thymus and B-cells from the bone marrow, in order to form the antibodies for immunity from infectious diseases. Dr. Petty and Dave Ashbaugh, MD, were the first to identify and define acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
In 1978, Dr. Petty and Reuben Cherniack, MD, who was chairman of the department of medicine at National Jewish Medical and Research Center, integrated the two pulmonary diseases programs.
While Marvin Schwarz, MD, and Peter Henson, MD, were co-division heads for two years, in 1987 Dr. Schwarz became the sole head of the division, which too produced future leaders. In 1999, Ed Abraham, MD, became co-division head. Dr. Abraham was Co-Division Head from 1999-2004.
Dr. Geraci became Division Head in 2004.
The Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, first led by Roger Mitchell, graduated its initial trainee in 1958. At that time, the Division focused on the development of clinician investigators in clinical and physiological sciences, with less than half of its graduates through 1970 opting for academic positions. Shortly thereafter, there was a recognized national shortage of academic pulmonologists in both clinical and scientific disciplines.