Pulmonary Critical Care

Our team of pulmonary medicine experts is dedicated to teaching future physicians the skills, compassion, and knowledge needed for a career in pulmonary and critical care. By combining a comprehensive medical education and cutting-edge research, fellows learn how to diagnose and treat a variety of common lung diseases including:

  • Adult cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • COPD 
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Occupational lung diseases
  • Mycobacterium other than Tuberculosis
  • Interstitial Lung Diseases
  • Coal Miners Lung Disease
  • Rare Pulmonary Disease
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Interventional Pulmonary
  • Multidisciplinary chest tumor clinic
  • Testing: pulmonary function, pulmonary exercise and methacholine challenge


Our division also provides coordinated, multidisciplinary care for several specialized disease entities through programs led by faculty who are nationally recognized in their fields. We work closely with the school of medicine and are involved in clinical trials and up to date technologies.


Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship

A fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine in is available for trainees wishing to specialize in the field. Call 505-272-4751  or email Pulmonary-Staff@salud.unm.edu for more information.

UNM Pulmonary Programs and Clinics

Lung Cancer Program

The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in the state of New Mexico. The center’s lung cancer program brings world-class clinicians and researchers together to collaborate on programs to improve lung cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Cystic Fibrosis Center

The UNM Cystic Fibrosis Center is the only facility in the state that is accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for providing specialized care that leads to improved length and quality of life for people living with cystic fibrosis.

Adult Cystic Fibrosis Care Team


  • Collaborates with care team members, primary care providers and other specialists to develop a medical plan that meets patients’ individual needs
  • Oversees treatment of patients during outpatient clinic visits and during hospital stays to provide the highest continuity of care
  • Follows Cystic Fibrosis Foundation care guidelines, latest treatment advances and recommendations to provide quality of care

Nurse Coordinator

  • Coordinates care among the multi-disciplinary team
  • Organizes daily clinic operations, schedules patient clinic visits and follow-up visits, arranges necessary procedures and labs
  • Helps facilitate patient communication with the CF care team


  • Oversees management of Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD), collaborating with endocrinologists and primary care providers
  • Develops a nutritional plan that is high in calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, to promote an appropriate diet and healthy weight (also known as a healthy Body Mass Index or BMI).
  • Makes recommendations for fat-soluble vitamins, pancreatic enzymes and additional dietary supplements.

Social Work Case Manager

  • Assists patient with emotional, social, and financial aspects of living with CF
  • Collaborates with transitions into the program from other centers
  • Educates patient in navigating health insurance coverage financial assistance
  • Supports patient led care

Respiratory Therapist

  • Performs your PFTs during care center visits
  • Can teach you and your family how to perform ACTs and how to take your inhaled medications
  • Shows you how to use and take care of equipment like nebulizers, air compressors and oxygen systems 

UNM CF Care Teams

Adult CF Program

5th Floor, Ambulatory Care Clinic
2211 Lomas Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone 505-925-4424

Fax 505-272-6630

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday
8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pediatric CF Program

3th Floor Ambulatory Care Clinic
2211 Lomas Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone 505-272-1908

Fax 505-272-0329

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday
8 a.m.-5 p.m.


The University of New Mexico Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Program

The UNM ILD program offers diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients with interstitial lung diseases. The program also provides guidance to community pulmonologists and primary care providers via a team from multiple disciplines including pulmonary medicine, chest radiology, rheumatology, occupational lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. The program holds a weekly multidisciplinary discussion to help guide management of complex ILD patients.

Our program is the only ILD program in the state of New Mexico and caters not only to the population of New Mexico but also adjoining states of Texas and Arizona. Our program also caters to a vast Native American population and also patients with occupational and environmental ILDs due to uranium mining, which is unique to this area. 

Interstitial Lung Disease is a heterogeneous group of lung disorders characterized by inflammation of lung tissue which leads to scarring and fibrosis if untreated.

Common risk factors and causes of interstitial lung disease are:

  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), scleroderma, myositis etc.
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • History of certain medication use
  • Family history of interstitial lung disease
  • Certain Occupational exposures

Suspicious symptoms for Interstitial Lung Disease are:

  • Shortness of breath with exertion
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue

Services offered

Our multi-disciplinary team offers state-of-the art services related to

  1. Diagnosis such as lung biopsy, comprehensive blood tests, special protocol CT scan
  2. Treatment initiation and monitoring of special drugs used to treat these rare diseases
  3. Sub-specialty consultation with Rheumatology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology and Pulmonary Hypertension when needed
  4. Referral and co-ordination for lung transplant evaluation to centers in Arizona and Texas
  5. Multi-disciplinary discussion to discuss complex cases for precise diagnosis and effective management

Our team

Our team members are very passionate about providing best care to our patients and our providers are experienced in managing these complex medical conditions.   

Nour Ali Ass’ad, MD – nassad@salud.unm.edu

Swati Gulati, MD – sgulati@salud.unm.edi

George Dreden NP - gedresden@salud.unm.edu

Dayana Salinas , MA - DSalinasPerez@salud.unm.edu

Ivonne Villanueva, MA - ivillanueva@salud.unm.edu 

Contact Us

Clinic 505-272-3840

Fax # 505-272-8700




The Interventional Pulmonology and Advanced Diagnostics team at UNM Health System specializes in minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for patients with suspected malignancy, airway disorders, advanced COPD and pleural diseases. We utilize the latest technological breakthroughs to help you or your loved ones manage symptoms related to lung cancer. We are one of the few centers in the southwest United States offering lung volume reduction for advanced COPD without surgery. Our team members have received special training for these advanced procedures and have years of experience behind them. Trust our dedicated team of respiratory therapists, physician assistants, nurses, social workers and physicians to provide the best care for your needs.

For Patients

With continued acquisition of the most advanced equipment, we can offer minimally invasive options for diagnosis and treatment. Most of our procedures do not require hospitalization. We work with our experts in thoracic surgery, radiation oncology and medical oncology to provide a continuum of care from diagnosis to treatment of cancers involving the chest. We might be able to help you if you have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions

  • Lung cancer
  • Mass/Spot on the lung without a diagnosis a.k.a pulmonary nodule
  • Pleural effusion - Fluid accumulation around your lung.
  • Pneumothorax – accumulation of air around the lung usually due to a punctured lung. A collapsed lung is a medical emergency and you should seek medical care immediately.
  • Narrowing or closure of your breathing tubes due to cancer or other causes.
  • Tracheo-bronchomalacia – collapse of breathing tube while breathing out leading to difficulty in breathing
  • Advanced Emphysema/COPD- For selected patients, a one-way valve can be placed in the lung to help you breathe better.

For referring providers

We offer the complete spectrum of interventional pulmonology procedures including

  • Flexible and Rigid Bronchscopy for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
  • Electromagnetic Navigation bronchoscopy with peripheral ultrasound
  • Robotic Bronchoscopy (coming soon)
  • Thoracoscopy/ Pleuroscopy
  • Airway stenosis management for benign and malignant airway disorders
  • Lung volume reduction for advanced COPD
  • Cryobiopsy for suspected interstitial lung disease
  • Management of Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis
  • Assessment and management of benign and malignant pleural disease
  • Evaluation for tracheobronchomalacia

Meet our Team

Akshu Balwan, MD


Balwan is a fellowship trained interventional pulmonologist. He joined UNM in 2020 and sees patients with prior appointment at the UNM comprehensive cancer center and UNM hospitals. His research interests include optimizing diagnostic yield for medical procedures, procedural education and pleural disease management. He is part of the clinical faculty at the UNM, training the next generation of doctors specializing in diseases of the lung. 




Farhad Mazdizinian, MD


Dr Mazdizinian is a veteran in the field of interventional pulmonology with years of clinical and teaching experience. He joined the UNM family in 2020 and see’s patients at UNMCC.

Keivon Kianfar

Mr Kianfar PA-C is a graduate of the University of New Mexico Physician Assistant program. He has a background in emergency medicine and was trained at UNM hospital. He joined the interventional pulmonology department in 2020 and sees patient at UNM. He is available to see patients by appointment.

Leslie Kumpf

Mrs Kumpf is a Registered Respiratory Therapist who is trained in Interventional Pulmonary since 2013. Her Respiratory Therapist background has been in both Critical Care and Pulmonary Diagnostics.  She joined the UNM Interventional Pulmonary department in 2016.  She provides coordination of care for all the Interventional Pulmonary patients.


A small flexible tube with camera (bronchoscope) at its end is inserted into the breathing tube while patient is asleep/sedated to visualize the lung and perform procedures as needed.

Navigation bronchoscopy aka electromagnetic navigation

This machine enables our physicians to reach areas in the lung beyond the visible part of the breathing tube using a virtual 3D model of your lung generated from your CAT scan of the chest. The machine uses your anatomy and electromagnetic fields to help physicians obtain a biopsy.

Robotic Bronchoscopy

A small flexible camera operated by the physician is guided with assistance from the robotic platform to reach distal areas of the lung.

Endobronchial Ultrasound

We can use small ultrasound probe inside your lung to assist with biopsy of lymph nodes and spots on your lung taking out the guesswork in obtaining such biopsies. This procedure provides a non- surgical alternative to a procedure called mediastinoscopy.


A small incision made in the chest is used to introduce a camera and look at your lung from the outside. In selected patients, this can provide an alternative to a surgical procedure called VATS (Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery) for diseases of the pleural lining of your lung.

UNM Pulmonary Hypertension Program

The UNM Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Program provides comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients with all forms of pulmonary hypertension. UNM is an accredited Comprehensive Care Center by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association for treating patients with PAH. PAH is defined as elevated blood pressure in the lungs, which leads to enlargement of the right side of the heart and, if untreated, heart failure and death.

Fifteen years ago pulmonary hypertension was considered to be a uniformly progressive and fatal disease. While exciting new treatments have been developed since then, patients with pulmonary hypertension face a truly life-threatening illness. Care is therefore provided by a team of closely coordinated experts in pulmonary hypertension, including physicians, clinical nurse specialists, pharmacists, and social workers skilled in counseling patients facing life-threatening illness.

Diagnosis of PAH

The diagnosis of PAH requires first recognizing suspicious symptoms. These include:

      • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
      • Chest pain
      • Fatigue
      • Dizziness or passing out
      • Leg or abdominal swelling
      • Cough

We also ask about risk factors that could make PAH more likely, including:

      • An underlying connective tissue (autoimmune) disease such as scleroderma or lupus
      • Family history of pulmonary hypertension
      • Symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea
      • History of liver problems
      • History of diet or other stimulant drug use 

Once a diagnosis of PAH is considered, several tests may be performed. These include:

      • Echocardiogram: An ultrasound of your heart looking for elevated pressures in the pulmonary artery and enlargement of the right side of the heart
      • Pulmonary function tests: Breathing tests to evaluate your lung function and the ability of the lungs to take in oxygen
      • V/Q scan: A nuclear medicine test to evaluate for blockages (such as blood clots) in the pulmonary arteries (as is seen in a condition called CTEPH)
      • Six-minute walk test: A test to assess how far someone can walk and how their oxygen level, heart rate and blood pressure respond to walking.
      • Blood tests. These can be used to check the oxygen levels in the blood, assess liver and kidney function, and look for other diseases. Certain blood tests can also help to check strain on the heart.
      • Right heart catheterization: A procedure in which a catheter is inserted through a large vein in your neck, arm or leg, and advanced into the heart and pulmonary arteries to measure the pressures in the heart and lungs.


Many effective treatments for PAH have been developed.  These medications range from once a day pills to infusion pumps that deliver medication continuously through an implanted catheter. Which medications are right for you will depend on a number of factors which each patient will discuss and decide upon with their PH treating physician. The physicians and nurse practitioners in the UNM PH Program, have decades of experience in treating PAH and will provide the best, state of the art care to you.  

The UNM Pulmonary Hypertension Program Provides:

      • Consultation with referring physicians
      • Treatment alternatives
      • Individualized medical therapy
      • Risk Assessment
      • Access to the most current drug therapies
      • Access to the clinical trials of investigational drugs
      • Consultation and coordination with other Stanford specialists

 The  Pulmonary Hypertension Program Provides:

      • Consultation with referring physicians
      • Treatment alternatives
      • Individualized medical therapy
      • Risk Assessment
      • Access to the most current drug therapies
      • Access to the clinical trials of investigational drugs
      • Consultation and coordination with other UNM specialists and outside institutions for surgical interventions.


Establishing a collaborative relationship with patients and families by providing the tools and knowledge individuals need to become active participants in their healthcare.

Our Clinics

Our clinics are staffed by pulmonary physicians and other specialists. Physicians at the Pulmonary Hypertension Center treat a wide range of conditions, including:

      • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
      • Pulmonary hypertension with left heart disease
      • Pulmonary hypertension associated with lung diseases and/or hypoxemia
      • Pulmonary hypertension due to chronic thrombotic and/or embolic
      • Miscellaneous issues—sarcoidosis, histiocytoss X, lumphangiomatosis, compression of pulmonary vessels (adenopathy, tumor, fibrosing mediastinitis)

UNM Pulmonary Hypertension Program Multidisciplinary Team Members

Lana Melendres-Groves, MD

Pulmonary Hypertension Program Director
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
University of New Mexico SOM















Greg Trejo

Clinical Research Coordinator 

Trisha Henderson

Sid Richardson

Evan Holm 

Charles, J Gallegos

 A Family Nurse Practitioner, licensed by the state of New Mexico to provide family-centered healthcare to patients of all ages. His scope of practice encompasses health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and management of common and complex health care problems.

For the past seven years Charles J, Gallegos has worked for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Pulmonary Hypertension Team. In collaboration with the pulmonary faculty, he is responsible for inpatient coordination of care and outpatient evaluation of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension.

 Brenda Y. Pacheco

 A Certified Physician Assistant, licensed by the state of New Mexico, to provide family-centered healthcare to patients of all ages. Her scope of practice encompasses health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and management of common and complex health care problems.

For the past 3 years, Brenda has worked for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Pulmonary Hypertension Team. In collaboration with the pulmonary faculty, she is responsible for the outpatient evaluation and management of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Brenda is a New Mexico native, born and raised in Taos, NM.  She attended the University of New Mexico where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish, and received her Physician Assistant degree from the University of New Mexico Physician Assistant Program in 2007.  She has also received her Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Lisa Robertson, BSN, RN

Pulmonary Hypertension Program Nurse Research Coordinator

Lisa graduated Summa Cum Laude with Departmental Honors from UNM’s 

College of Nursing in 2010. She has a background in critical care, home hospice

and care management. As a member of UNM’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program 

since 2017, she helps coordinate the program’s participation in the national

Pulmonary Hypertension Association Registry (PHAR), identifies appropriate 

patients for clinical trials, and develops and maintains quality and research

initiatives for the program.


Referrals to Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic

Please include the following:

 1) Referral, specifically stating Pulmonary Hypertension

2) Pt demographics, including insurance information

3) Recent clinic notes

4) Echocardiogram, done within 6 months of the current date. If patient does not have a current echocardiogram, please have one done ASAP, then faxed to the clinic. Additionally, a Stress Echocardiogram, Transesophageal Echocardiogram, or an ECG/EKG will not suffice.

5) Not required, but if available please fax:  V/Q Scan, Pulmonary Function Test, 6 Minute Walk Test, Right Heart Catheterization, Chest X-Ray, Chest CT, Labs: Chem 7, Mg, P04, NT-Pro BNP, ANA, ANCA, Rf, Scl-70, HIV, and Hep Panel.

Please be advised, a New Patient Consultation cannot be scheduled unless all required records are received. 

Please call the clinic with any questions.

1101 Medical Arts Ave.

Building 4, Suite B

Albuquerque, NM 87102

P: 505-272-2273

F: 505-925-6013 (Attn: Pulmonary Hypertension) 


Our nationally recognized Occupational Lung Medicine is affiliated with the satellite Black Lung/Coal Miners Clinic in Raton, New Mexico and offers care to patients across the state affected by:

  • Occupational asthma
  • Pneumoconiosis (asbestosis, silicosis, coal workers pneumoconiosis and uranium miners pneumoconioses)
  • Beryllium exposure / chronic beryllium lung disease
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Irritant vocal cord dysfunction
  • Work-related bronchiolitis obliterans
  • Environmental lung diseases
  • Occupational emphysema (COPD)
  • Occupational lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

In partnership with Miners’ Colfax Medical Center at Raton, NM, we have established innovative programs for the miners of New Mexico (NM). Our mobile screening program with telehealth capability for NM miners, details of which are published in this link, was recognized as a 2016 innovative model at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Information Hub. Along with our partners in the NM Mining Advisory Council, we have published multiple research manuscripts using the NM miners’ cohort. In 2016, we established the Miners' Wellness TeleECHO Program for telementoring professions caring for miners, details for which are published in this link. The Mining Advisory Council and the Miners’ Wellness TeleECHO Programs were recognized as rural COVID-19 innovations by HRSA's Rural Health Information Hub.  The American Thoracic Society recognized our TeleECHO program as a 2019 innovation in fellowship education.​

Services Our clinic provides the following services:

  • Independent medical evaluation.
  • Lung impairment evaluation.
  • Workers compensation services.
  • Evaluation for the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) programs, such as Part E.
  • B-reading of hard copy or digital chest X-rays for rating pneumoconiosis.
  • Maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
  • Full pulmonary function testing.
  • Methacholine bronchoprovocation test, which measures lung function, with laryngoscopic evaluation.
  • Bronchoscopy with lavage and biopsy.
  • Impairment ratings.


















Akshay Sood, MD, MPH

Tenured Professor & Miners' Colfax Medical Center Endowed Chair in Mining-Related Lung Diseases Medical Director, Min

ers' Wellness Tele-ECHO Clinic

Assistant Dean, Mentoring and Faculty Retention, UNM School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Career Development

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine

University of New Mexico School of Medicine

1 University of New Mexico, MSC 10 5550

Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA

Telephone: 505-272-4751 (Academic office)

Direct Telephone: 505-925-4393

Fax: 505-272-8700

Pager: 505-380-0100 (please punch call back number- no voice messages)

For clinical questions, please contact my medical assistant Ivonne Villanueva at  505-272-4453 or ivillanueva@salud.unm.edu (please do not email sensitive information)

For questions on mentoring programs, please contact Wendy Wiggins at mailto:wwiggins@salud.unm.edu


Please check our websites: 

Miners' Wellness Tele-ECHO Clinic website (http://echo.unm.edu/miners-wellness/);

The American Miner website (http://theamericanminer.org/);