WSPHA founders portraits. An interview with Professor Nazzareno Galiè

Professor Galiè, how important have the World Symposia on Pulmonary Hypertension been for the study of this disease?

In the past 45 years the sequence of the Word Symposia has actually represented some very relevant cornerstones for the development of the knowledge, the scientific knowledge, of Pulmonary Hypertension (which is not only treatment but also diagnosis, definition and classifications) and this has been recognized by all the experts in the field. Every one of us waits for the new Congress, for the new World Congress, for acquiring the state of the art of this science because we consider Pulmonary Hypertension like a medical science.

What makes Pulmonary Hypertension more difficult to treat with respect to other diseases?

The science of Pulmonary Hypertension is very peculiar because it includes the relationship between heart and lung. Pulmonary circulation is one of the two circulations of the body and it has specific characteristics, and it is more difficult to explore as compared to the systemic circulation. This is why the pulmonary circulation and Pulmonary Hypertension science require a specific approach.

You are one of the founders of the WSPHA. Why did you decide to found this Association and what do you believe will be its impact on the science of Pulmonary Hypertension?

Because we think that the periodical World Congress, held every five years, is not probably sufficient to cover all aspects of pulmonary vascular science. This is why we think that we need to fill the interval between the major congresses with additional educational and scientific events. The impact of the World Association will be a sort of focus of all experts on different topics and different new aspects. We want to maintain the activity in order to be ready for the subsequent World Meeting and also to help the interaction between all experts in this field.

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What is your relationship with the co-founders of the WSPHA?

The colleagues who have created this organization, this society, this association (we can utilize different names) are a group of friends because we are indeed friends and we started since the beginning to work together in this area. The first World Meeting was held in Geneva in 1973, we were quite young at that time. In the second one, 25 years later, we were still there. We found immediately a sort of brotherhood and every time we were able to organize the following edition of the meeting.

When did you become interested in Pulmonary Hypertension and what, in your opinion, is your major contribution to the field?

I started in 1979 with my graduation thesis on Pulmonary Hypertension, at that time the area was not so relevant for clinical medicine and I got passionate with this, and I think that my major contribution is the demonstration that initial combination therapy is much better for the patients as compared to monotherapy.

What can improve the treatment of patients affected by PH? And how the new Association can help from this point of view?

Pulmonary Hypertension patients require excellent centers and the organization of an excellent center improves a lot the treatment of patients. The treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension is not just a prescription of drugs, it’s a strategy which requires a multidisciplinary team and organized follow-up.

Our initiative, including the website, will help the interaction between the different stakeholders of this area, we will organize meetings but also we would like to help the interaction through the web. We have included a taskforce of patients in our last World Meeting, and this is very important because for the first time the patients had a task force. The interaction with individual patients and patients associations is very important because all together we can improve the progress. Communication between doctors and patients is very relevant and, of course, the interaction of this Association with the patients associations will be very strict. Another major point that we need to develop is the presence of junior doctors, because junior doctors are those who make the most relevant work in the field, either clinical field or basic science.

It is very important to remain concentrated on the different aspects of this field and be persistent over time. Our association may help to maintain the focus on this specific medical area.