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UPMC Children’s Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine Welcomes Daniel Atwood, MD, to Division

November 17, 2023

The Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is pleased to welcome Daniel T. Atwood, MD, to the Division. Dr. Atwood joined as an attending physician on August 1, 2023, and he also holds the appointed of assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Atwood joined the Division after completing his fellowship in pediatric pulmonary medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he also completed his residency training in Pediatrics.

Dr. Atwood earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2017. He also completed the Post Graduate Trainees: Future Academic Clinician Educators program at Harvard Macy Institute in 2021.

A Focus on Medical Education and Teaching

In addition to his clinical duties as an attending physician, Dr. Atwood has an emphasis on medical education and medical education leadership and will be taking part in medical education and training programs in the Division, but also with the School of Medicine.

“I've always had an interest in teaching and education. As a doctor, you’re kind of always in teaching and learning mode, be it with your patient and their families, for yourself, and with up-and-coming trainees,” says Dr. Atwood. “It's a big part of the job, and honestly, it's one of the main reasons I got into academic medicine in the first place. I want to focus even more on that side of things in my career, and there’s a tremendous wealth of opportunities for that at Pitt and at UPMC Children’s.”

Dr. Atwood also will be continuing his training as a medical educator by pursing a master’s degree in medical education at the University of Pittsburgh.

“This advanced and rigorous training will give me a more comprehensive foundation in medical education. Up to now, my experience has been piecemeal, involving various small projects in teaching and curriculum design. The master's program will provide a wide-ranging knowledge base and a structured educational experience to bolster my teaching skill set and effectiveness as an educator in the medical field,” says Dr. Atwood.

A Clinical Emphasis on Lung Complications Resulting from Cancer Treatments

A specific area of clinical interest for Dr. Atwood is caring for children experiencing pulmonary complications that arise as side effects from cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, and, notably, bone marrow transplants.

“These patients are particularly vulnerable because the transplanted bone marrow can mistakenly attack the body's own tissues – graft-versus-host disease, often leading to lung disease,” says Dr. Atwood. “This condition is challenging to treat, as symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, and susceptibility to infections like pneumonia often manifest late in the disease's progression, which can limit effective treatment options.”

As Dr. Atwood explains, the response to treatment varies significantly among patients, even when they present with similar symptoms on paper. Understanding the mechanisms that cause these lung complications and tailoring therapies to individual patients remain an area where we have a lot to learn.

“However, I believe there's considerable potential in early detection of lung disease in these patients, as timely intervention can substantially improve treatment outcomes,” says Dr. Atwood. “I’m looking forward to developing relationships and partnerships with my hematology/oncology and bone marrow transplant colleagues to try and help improve the care and outcomes for our patients.”