With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

05 June 2009

Interview with FAAN's VP of Research Administration, Cara Schmitt

We're pleased to share an audio interview by Jen Trammell with Cara Schmitt, Vice President of Research Administration for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

Cara Schmitt, left. Photo courtesy of FAAN

Press Release from FAAN:

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Commits $1.1 Million for Food Allergy Research

FAIRFAX, Va. (May 14, 2009) In research centers throughout the country, six leading scientists are working on potential food allergy vaccines and therapies, painstakingly studying anaphylaxis to better understand it, and trying to solve the mysteries of food allergy development, thanks to a $1.12 million commitment from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).
With this commitment – the largest since FAAN's Research Grant Program began in 2004 – more than $4.3 million have been awarded to scientists who are studying the areas of epidemiology, etiology, treatment, and prevention of food allergy and anaphylaxis.

Funds are raised for FAAN's Research Grant Program through various events throughout the year as well as through member donations and other sources. This much-needed research could potentially lead to a cure for food allergies, a condition shared by 12 million Americans, including 3 million children.

"We are optimistic that these research studies will lead to improving the lives of people with food allergies," said Julia Bradsher, CEO of FAAN. "This research would not be possible without our generous donors' contributions toward finding a cure."

Research conducted as a part of FAAN's Research Grant Program has resulted in 62 publications, abstracts and presentations since the program's inception.

Here's a glimpse of the newest studies funded by this program:

* Carlos Camargo, M.D., Dr.P.H., Massachusetts General Hospital, is studying the association between vitamin D and the development of food allergy among children. Camargo's previous work has drawn a possible link between low sunlight exposure and increased risk of anaphylaxis.

* Simon Hogan, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, is studying anaphylaxis by comparing the levels of IL-9, a factor in the body thought to be associated with anaphylaxis, in children who are at risk for this life-threatening reaction against children who are not at risk. This information could help in the diagnosis of food-triggered, life-threatening anaphylaxis.

* Patrick Leung, Ph.D., University of California-Davis, is studying the use of DNA vaccines to suppress the allergic response toward the major shrimp allergen in an effort to design therapeutic vaccines for food allergy.

* Marc Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, is working on developing new diagnostic and treatment approaches for Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an emerging type of food allergy disorder characterized by the infiltration of a large number of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the esophagus. He hopes to uncover the molecular basis for EE.

* Xiaoping Zhong, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, is working on developing a new therapeutic approach to peanut allergy.

* Daocheng Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., Northwestern University, is working on developing a new "fusion protein" that will inhibit the allergic response of cells. Once developed, this molecule will be tested on its effectiveness in blocking the allergic response in peanut allergy.

Each project is funded in the range of $50,000-$150,000 per year, for up to two years. Projects that have been funded by FAAN in the past include oral immunotherapy studies and anaphylaxis prevalence studies.

For more information about FAAN's Research Grant Program, visit www.foodallergy.org/research.html.

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