Breathing Matters: Pedalling for pulmonary fibrosis 

18/09/2012 00:00 

The race is on to find new treatments for a life-threatening disease which leaves patients fighting for breath.

Peter Tenenbaum on his bike

Peter Tenenbaum on his bike

A squad of sponsored cyclists are raising money to fund vital research at UCL into pulmonary, or lung, fibrosis. 

UCLH consultant chest physician Dr Joanna Porter along with Donna Basire* established The Breathing Matters charity in 2011. Patients and their families had approached them wanting to raise awareness and money for research into the disease. They included Lawrence Matz who sadly died last August, aged 58 whilst awaiting a lung transplant.

As well as looking after patients with lung fibrosis at UCLH, Dr Porter also heads a research group at UCL.

She said:  “Lung fibrosis typically strikes healthy middle aged people and its progression is often swift. Although we can manage the symptoms, the actual condition is currently untreatable.”

Patients often present late in the disease with non specific symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and a persistent cough. Misdiagnosis is common. as symptoms are vague and early lung changes are often not readily identifiable on chest x-ray. A lung function test or CT is more sensitive.

Peter Tenenbaum (L) with his friend Lawrence Matz who died from the disease

Peter Tenenbaum (L) with his friend Lawrence Matz who died from the disease

Although the exact cause remains a mystery, people with rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases are at increased risk. Although lung transplants are an option, lung donors are rare and many patients die whilst on the transplant waiting list.  Urgent new therapies are desperately needed.

Peter Tenenbaum is planning a gruelling challenge to remember his dear friend Lawrence; to raise money for Breathing Matters and to mark World Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month (September 2012). 

Peter will cycle 1,000 miles solo from London to Barcelona. He aims to raise more than £40,000 to help fund a PHD student to work alongside Dr Porter during a three year research project at UCL.

Mr Tenenbaum said: “Lawrence enriched so many lives with his vibrancy, charm and love. For me, he really was like the brother I never had.

“Lung fibrosis is not a glamorous disease. There is so little that can be done to help patients…and lung transplants are often too little, too late. We must put our hope in research.”

The UCLH/UCL research team aim to identify the possible causes of this disease as well as use novel imaging techniques to identify early responses to potential therapies.       

If any clinicians would like more information about lung fibrosis and other interstitial lung diseases please contact Dr Joanna Porter. (

The Breathing Matters charity is administered by Donna Basire, a medical PA at UCLH, and a driving force behind the establishment of this charity


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