Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Our compassionate experts specialize in caring for adults with cystic fibrosis (CF). We have extensive experience helping young people transition from pediatric to adult CF care. We work with you to maximize your health and improve your quality of life.

3D Illustration Concept of Human Respiratory System Lungs Anatomy
Lung Scan Illustration

Why choose the UCLA Health Cystic Fibrosis Program?

UCLA Health experts created this specialized program to help the growing number of adults over age 18 with cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening lung disorder. We use a team approach to deliver customized, comprehensive care. When you come to us, you’ll find:

Recognized expertise: Our program is accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We’re committed to delivering the highest quality care to adults with CF while significantly improving quality of life.

Coordinated treatments and support: Cystic fibrosis requires collaborative care from a team of specialists. At our dedicated center, you’ll have access to multiple experts under one roof. We bring these experts together to provide you with convenient, comprehensive care.

Seamless transition to adult CF care: We work closely with the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to offer patients a smooth transition from pediatric to adult CF care. We understand the unique CF challenges that can come with age. Our compassionate team is here for you with effective therapies and support.

Our cystic fibrosis services

Our team approach allows us to deliver treatments and support that address the specific needs of adults with CF during every phase of the disease. Specialists in several fields smooth the transition from pediatric to adult care, which usually happens in adolescence or early adulthood. During this time, people with CF can be especially vulnerable and gaps in care can develop.

We offer a range of patient education, support programs and specialized care to address issues that adults with CF often need to manage. These include:

  • CF-related diabetes, which can develop from scarring on the pancreas (due to excess mucus production over time)
  • Complications associated with multiresistant bacteria and lung infections
  • Dietary, nutritional and gastrointestinal (GI) issues that may develop or worsen with age
  • Infertility and risks associated with pregnancy
  • Insurance coverage and financial concerns
  • Mental health and emotional concerns that can accompany dealing with a chronic disease
  • Managing jobs, relationships, medical care and independent living
  • Pancreatic insufficiency, which happens when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough enzymes (a type of protein) to digest food in the small intestines

What is cystic fibrosis (CF)?

Cystic fibrosis is a rare, life-threatening, inherited disorder (passed down through families). It causes problems with the lungs and digestive system. Thick, sticky mucus and other fluids build up and clog the lungs. Signs of CF usually appear in early childhood and include coughing, wheezing and lung infections.

As children with CF get older, symptoms can worsen. The condition can lead to other health issues as well, including diabetes and GI problems. As adults transition away from pediatric CF specialists, it can be increasingly difficult. Many adults with CF find it challenging to juggle a job, relationships, financial concerns and other responsibilities while managing their health.

Cystic fibrosis treatments we offer

You can count on UCLA Health to deliver comprehensive CF treatment and support in a caring environment. We have experience with the full range of therapies, including:

Medications for cystic fibrosis

We’re at the forefront of new medications that target the underlying cause of CF and slow the decline of lung function. These drugs can prevent infection, clear lungs and relax muscles in the airways. We work with you to determine the most appropriate medication based on the type of CF and your overall health.

Lifestyle changes, counseling and support

As adolescents with CF grow and become more independent, it can be challenging to keep up with managing health concerns. Throughout this transition, our experienced, compassionate team is by your side. Our team offers:

  • Exercise plans and advice: Physical activity is especially important for people with CF. Our experts work with you to create a fitness plan based on your goals and health.
  • Mental health counseling and psychosocial support: We offer a range of counseling services and support groups to manage emotions and adjust to new responsibilities.
  • Nutritional guidance: We work with you to address digestive issues that can result from CF. Registered dietitians offer dietary changes, vitamins and supplements to improve GI health.
  • Reproductive health care: As you consider having children, our specialists help you weigh options, evaluate risks and make a plan that’s right for you. UCLA Health genetic experts offer genetic counseling and testing to assist you with family planning.

Lung transplantation and liver transplantation

If you need a lung transplant or liver transplant, our programs are among the best in the nation. Your cystic fibrosis team works closely with transplant specialists to coordinate your treatment plan and ensure world-class care.

Meet our CF team

Our team of cystic fibrosis experts includes top pulmonary specialists, respiratory therapists, registered dietitians and social workers. We work closely with endocrinologists, gastroenterologists and infectious disease specialists.

Elaine Harrington - Pulmonary Nurse Specialist
Elaine Harrington, RN, BSN, AE-C
Pediatric and Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program Coordinator Pulmonary Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Pulmonology
Marine Kupalyan - Registered Nurse
Marine Kupalian, RN
Pulmonary Nurse Specialist
Lindsay Pappas, RD
Registered Dietitian
Social worker Sabah Akmal - Pediatric Clinical Social Worker
Sabah Akmal, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker, Pediatrics
Karen Ochoa, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker, Adult
DeeAnna Serna, RCP, RRT-NPS, AE-C
Associates of Science in Respiratory Therapy Respiratory Therapist, Cystic Fibrosis
Kristen Saikali, RD
CF Registry and Research Coordinator

Contact us

Our team works together to address the unique needs of adults with cystic fibrosis. Call us at 310-449-0939 to connect with an expert.

Find your care

Our team works together to address the unique needs of adults with cystic fibrosis. Call us at 310-449-0939 to connect with an expert.