American Lung Association Volunteer Medical Spokespeople for 2019-2020 Announced

From health impacts of air pollution to lung cancer, vaping and more, medical experts nationwide volunteer to share accurate lung health information, dispel myths

The American Lung Association, the nation’s premier resource for lung health, has selected six newly appointed physician volunteers as media spokespeople and reappointed 12 volunteer spokespeople to another term. The National Volunteer Medical Spokesperson Program enters its fourth year with 18 medical professionals from across the United States with expertise in a wide number of lung health topics, from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), vaping and asthma to healthy air, allergies and quit smoking support.

“It’s difficult to read the news without coming across urgent lung health issues, whether wildfires, the climate crisis, the youth vaping epidemic or the terrible toll of lung cancer. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to bring Americans the most current and accurate lung health information,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. “The American Lung Association volunteer spokespeople help us advance our mission to save lives by ensuring the media and public have reliable, science-based information. We are fortunate to work with leading experts and dedicated volunteers.” 

Joining the American Lung Association’s 2019-2020 National Volunteer Medical Spokespeople, the incoming volunteer spokespeople are: 

John Balmes, M.D., San Francisco, is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and professor of environmental health sciences in the school of public health at University of California, Berkeley. He is an attending physician in the division of occupational and environmental medicine and the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Balmes has studied the effects of exposures to air pollution and occupational hazards on respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic health for 39 years. 

Rabih Bechara, M.D., Atlanta, is a professor of medicine within the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Augusta University and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He also serves as director of the Thoracic Institute, as well as chief of the division of pulmonology and critical care medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. His research focuses on endoscopic therapy of lung cancer and endoscopic lung volume reduction. 

Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., Baltimore, is a pulmonologist who specialized in COPD, asthma, tobacco dependence and health equity. He is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he currently co-directs Medicine for the Greater Good and is the community engagement co-director for the Baltimore Breathe Center. His projects have impacted over 7,000 Baltimore residents and over 150 healthcare professional learners.

Jamie Garfield, M.D., Philadelphia, is an associate professor of clinical thoracic medicine and surgery and an interventional pulmonologist at the Temple Lung Center at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, one of the busiest interventional pulmonary programs in the country. She has strong interests in women’s lung disease and health as well as LGBTQ awareness and health. In addition to her clinical and research interests she is a passionate, award-winning leader in quality improvement as well as undergraduate and graduate medical education at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and Temple University Hospital.

Meredith McCormack, M.D., MHS, Baltimore, is an associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Department. Dr. McCormack has clinical expertise in asthma and COPD, as well as pulmonary physiology and pulmonary function testing. She serves as the medical director of the Johns Hopkins University Pulmonary Function Laboratory and as a physician-scientist her research focuses on the effect of environmental influences on underlying obstructive lung disease—specifically climate change, air pollution, diet, obesity influences on COPD and asthma.

Jacob Sands, M.D., Boston, is a thoracic medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sands treats individuals with lung cancer and leads the small cell lung cancer clinical research program at Dana-Farber. Dr. Sands has an interest in dismantling lung cancer stigma and lung cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, with ongoing protocol development in non-small cell and small cell lung cancers. He is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines committees on small cell lung cancer and lung cancer screening.

A full list all 18 volunteer spokespeople for 2019-2020, including biographies and headshots, and additional resources for media may be found at

For media interested in scheduling an interview with an American Lung Association National Volunteer Spokesperson about lung health, lung diseases such as lung cancer, healthy air, tobacco use or more, contact Stephanie Goldina at [email protected] or 312-801-7629. 

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Cook
[email protected]

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