Dr. Mary Ellen Kleinhenz is a pulmonologist who evaluates and treats patients with a variety of conditions affecting their breathing. She specializes in caring for adults with cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited condition that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs, as well as those needing lung transplantation. She also uses her knowledge of the special therapies devised for these patients to help develop treatments for people with other chronic lung conditions.
Kleinhenz champions pulmonary rehabilitation programs and respiratory therapy as ways to manage symptoms and improve quality of life for patients with chronic lung disease. She cares for patients in both clinic and hospital settings.
Kleinhenz studies how the organisms living in the airways of CF patients change with treatment and disease progression, with the goal of improving management of CF. She is particularly interested in helping patients and their families deal with the challenges of living with the illness. With colleagues at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, she has worked to develop, study and update strategies to better prepare young people with CF to manage the illness throughout their lives. She also works with colleagues in the UCSF Lung Transplant Program to develop best practices for lung transplant recipients.
Kleinhenz earned her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, then completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, a teaching affiliate of Case Western Reserve University.
As a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's center committee, Kleinhenz visits CF centers nationwide to assess patient care, encourage colleagues to sustain high quality care and help improve services. She is also a member of the American Thoracic Society.