David M. Center, MD, was honored with the Breathing for Life Award at the Ninth Annual ATS Foundation Research Program Benefit on Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. The Breathing for Life Award is the highest honor given by the Foundation for philanthropy, scientific achievement, and commitment to mentorship.

“I’m truly honored to be receiving the Breathing for Life Award,” says Dr. Center. He noted the importance of research awards early in his career, and the vital role of ATS Foundation Research Program grants in general.

“An ATS Foundation Research Program grant not only provides financial support, it also builds the confidence and recognition that comes from having been selected in a stiff competition.”

Except for a research fellowship in immunology at Harvard, Dr. Center has spent his entire career at Boston University, where he has served as chief of pulmonary medicine for 30 years, is the Gordon and Ruth Snider Professor of Pulmonary Medicine, and is associate provost for translational research.

In a world that is growing increasingly specialized, Dr. Center remains the legendary “triple threat,” according to Jeffrey Glassroth, MD, one of the first fellows to train under Dr. Center. “He’s a superb clinician, investigator, and teacher. He’s also a person of tremendous integrity.”

Dr. Center’s own research led him and research colleagues to identify a T lymphocyte-specific chemotactic factor, now known as Interleukin 16. Their research has opened doors for other researchers interested in allergic diseases, asthma, HIV, and cancer.

Amid all his administrative responsibilities—he is also director of the university’s NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute—Dr. Center continues to hold his weekly clinic, one of the longest-running at Boston Medical Center. He is especially proud of the medical center’s role as a safety-net hospital that cares for patients, including the homeless and recent immigrants, who are ineligible for health insurance.

“I feel passionately that all patients deserve the best care,” says Dr. Center, who was awarded the 2012 Trudeau Medal for his lifetime contributions to pulmonary medicine. “Better patient care is what research is all about.”

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