The Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s History

Check out PHA's interactive timeline!
View PHA's Interactive Timeline

From simple beginnings – four women who met around a kitchen table in Florida in 1991 – the Pulmonary Hypertension Association has evolved into a community of well over 10,000 pulmonary hypertension patients, caregivers, family members and medical professionals.

As we have grown, we have stayed true to our roots and the vision and ingenuity of our founders: We continue to work every day to end the isolation that PH patients face, and find a cure for pulmonary hypertension.

Our History

The Early Days

The Early Days (pre-1990)

In 1985, there were only 187 known patients in the U.S. with pulmonary hypertension. PH patient Dorothy Olson set out to find others with the disease and finally connected with three other patients in Florida. Together, they founded the first PH support group and what would eventually become the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Read more

Founding our Community

Founding Our Community (1990-1999)

In May 1990, the founders printed the first issue of Pathlight and sent the newsletter to all known patients and doctors who treated pulmonary hypertension. As the network of patients, caregivers and medical professionals grew, PHA evolved from a local support group in Florida to an organization with national reach. Read more

A Period of Rapid Development

A Period of Rapid Development (1999-present)

PHA’s development accelerated with the hiring of our first staff member in 1999. With programs and services expanding to serve the needs of the growing population of patients, caregivers and PH-focused medical professionals, PHA has also become an international hub for the PH community. Read more

The Future of PHA

The Future of PHA

Our ultimate goal is to find a cure for pulmonary hypertension. We are empowered by the hope for that cure as we continue to build our community and provide more programs and services for those whose lives have been touched by PH.


Additional Information

In the Words of our Founders

“PHA’s history is driven by a commitment to succeed beyond our numbers. It is the continuing story of what patients, family members and medical professionals are able to do to change the history of a disease.”
– Rino Aldrighetti, PHA’s president and first staff member

The PHA Story: A short history of PHA (PDF)
- written by Dorothy Olson, Pat Paton, Judy Simpson and Bonnie Dukart

A detailed history of PHA 1987-1999 (PDF)
- written by Gail Boyer Hayes, author of Pulmonary Hypertension: A Patient's Survival Guide

Read more about the Leaders Who Shaped the History of PH...

State of PHA: An Annual Update from PHA President Rino Aldrighetti

Watch recordings from this annual webinar:


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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.