April 7, 2016

Pulmonologist Moore always strives to bring his ‘A game’

Paul Moore, M.D., has lived two places in his life: Nashville and Boston. He credits experiences and people in both cities for helping shape him into the physician, pulmonary specialist (and sports fan) that he is today.

Pediatric pulmonologist Paul Moore, M.D., credits his colleagues and mentors for helping him become the physician he is today. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Paul Moore, M.D., has lived two places in his life: Nashville and Boston. He credits experiences and people in both cities for helping shape him into the physician, pulmonary specialist (and sports fan) that he is today.

He likes to believe he has perhaps encountered a bit of serendipity, a phenomenon one of his professors spoke about during his fourth year at Harvard Medical School. The people he’s trained with along the way have been particularly integral in his career — from working under one of the greats in pediatric pulmonary medicine in Boston, Mary Ellen Wohl, M.D., a pioneer in her field, to coming to Vanderbilt where he worked with Mildred Stahlman, M.D., the mother of modern neonatology.

“I believe in this notion of recogniz-ing opportunities wherever you are, making sacrifices to accomplish the work and then applying those experiences in new situations,” said Moore, director of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonary Medicine, vice chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics and associate professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology. “I have been fortunate to be provided wonderful opportunities at Harvard and here at Vanderbilt.”

A Nashvillian, born and raised, Moore grew up a Vanderbilt sports fan and attended David Lipscomb, now Lipscomb Academy.

His roots are deep in Music City, with his parents still living in Green Hills and his two older brothers living in the city as well.

He attended Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate, dabbling in politics as president of the Student Government Association, a fact that might surprise people who know him. More than 20 years after he graduated, he still keeps in touch with Bob Dilts, Ph.D., who was head of the pre-med committee at the time.

“Going to Vanderbilt opened my eyes to a much more diverse group of folks beyond my experience of growing up in Nashville,” he said. “I came to Vanderbilt interested in medicine. I had wonderful advisers and I keep up with a few of them until this day.”

After Vanderbilt, he moved to Boston, where he spent 13 years. He earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, followed by a residency and fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Beantown, as the city is fondly known, is also where he met his wife, Catherine, and wher he became a die-hard Red Sox baseball fan, a passion his four children now cherish.

While in Boston, he also solidified his passion for pediatric pulmonary medicine, watching and learning from one of the field’s best in Wohl.

“She was a grand dame of pediatric pulmonary medicine and played a huge part in why I became interested in lung disease. She recruited me during residency to become a fellow. I had wonderful experiences in the clinical training as well as becoming involved in research at the Harvard School of Public Health,” Moore said.

“For me, pediatric pulmonary medicine was an interesting career because it allowed me to take care of infants through adolescence; there were aspects of primary care in taking care of patients with cystic fibrosis and other pediatric lung diseases, and there were opportunities in the hospital to consult on some of the most complex patients. And in the research area, lung disease offered enormous opportunities in applying molecular and genetic advances already made in other fields.”

Moore came back to Vanderbilt in 2001 after Tom Hazinski, M.D., recruited him to a growing and flourishing Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine. Hazinski had built the division from scratch under Stahlman.

And Moore set out to conduct research that hopefully would help close some of the gap on understanding lung disease.

His current research focus includes the Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP), a five-year study to look at infants born at less than 29 weeks gestation and the development of bronchial pulmonary dysplasia or BPD.

These infants are more likely to go home from the hospital on oxygen and are more at risk for asthma and other respiratory complications.

Moore has also collaborated with Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH, Lulu H. Owen Professor of Medicine, in her studies of infants with severe bronchiolitis and risk factors for the development of asthma later in life.

“As I’ve come back to Vanderbilt, the research has been particularly gratifying because of the work of Millie Stahlman. In 1961, she established the Division of Neonatology and was the first person to introduce ventilators for premature infants,” he said. “In this work looking at respiratory outcomes of premature infants, it has been very humbling to carry on the legacy of Dr. Stahlman and Dr. Hazinski and the work they have done within the Children’s Hospital here. I didn’t realize that when I started here.”

Moore notes that there was a tremendous, special vision of what Children’s Hospital would be and everything that has followed in his 15 years here.

“I am grateful for the contributions of Dr. Strauss, Dr. Hazinski and Dr. Webber who have given me opportunities at Vanderbilt,” he said. “My kids get tired of hearing me say it, but we’ll be driving and we’ll be four hours away on the interstate and I’ll see places where our patients drive from to come to Vanderbilt.

“It’s extremely humbling to me that patients will travel 200 or 300 miles for a routine visit. And it reminds me that in every patient interaction we have, it’s so important to walk into the room with our ‘A game.’

“We have to leave behind all the distractions that come in practicing modern medicine and give our patients the very best,” Moore said.

When Moore isn’t devoting his time to patients, he’s busy being a father to his four children: Stewart, 14, Joseph, 12, Caroline, 10, and Mary Elizabeth, 8. He can be found on the soccer field, at a dance recital or on a family cross-country road trip.