Skip to main content

June Spotlight Nonprofit: Breathe New Hampshire

We are delighted to present our Spotlight Nonprofit for June 2024, Breathe New Hampshire. For more than 100 years, Breathe New Hampshire has been an integral part of the public health landscape in the Granite State.

Mission: To eliminate lung disease and improve the quality of life for those living with lung disease in New Hampshire.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Breathe NH focuses on critical issues related to lung health, such as tobacco use, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, air quality, and lung cancer. They provide educational programs, advocate for public health, and support scientific research to prevent, eliminate, and treat lung disease.

A Legacy Rooted in History

Breathe New Hampshire was founded in 1916 by Dr. Robert Brown Kerr. Born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 15, 1887, Dr. Kerr immigrated to the United States at the age of five. His interest in medicine led him to earn his medical degree from Tufts College Medical School in 1910. After interning at the Boston City Hospital, he became the resident physician of the Pembroke Sanatorium in 1911, serving there until 1950.

Dr. Robert Brown Kerr, founder of Breathe New Hampshire

In 1916, amidst the tuberculosis epidemic, Dr. Kerr established the New Hampshire Tuberculosis Association, now known as Breathe New Hampshire. As the organization’s executive secretary and medical director from 1917 to 1966, Dr. Kerr played a pivotal role in reducing the incidence and death rate of tuberculosis in the state. During a time when treatment for tuberculosis primarily involved fresh air, nutritious food, and care in sanatoriums, Dr. Kerr's dedication was instrumental in improving public health.

In 1943, a significant breakthrough occurred when Dr. Selman A. Waksman of Rutgers University discovered streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis. This discovery transformed the treatment of TB and marked a monumental step forward in the fight against infectious diseases.

Patients at a sanatorium receiving care as part of tuberculosis treatment

Continuing the Fight for Healthy Lungs

Today, Breathe New Hampshire continues to honor Dr. Kerr's legacy through their comprehensive efforts to combat lung disease. Their programs aim to educate the public about lung health, advocate for stronger public health policies, and support cutting-edge research. By addressing contemporary challenges such as tobacco use and air quality, they remain committed to improving the respiratory health of New Hampshire's residents.

"As the President of Breathe New Hampshire, I am proud to highlight the important gap we fill in our local communities. Through our steadfast commitment to education, prevention, and research, we strive to empower individuals with the knowledge and resources needed to safeguard their respiratory well-being. By addressing these critical aspects comprehensively, we not only improve lives but also foster healthier, more resilient communities for generations to come." – Maryanne Ferguson

Join us as we continue to spotlight Breathe New Hampshire throughout the month of June!

View All Blog Posts