STANFORD FOOD ALLERGY AND FOOD SENSITIVITY CENTER Food allergy is a very common and life threatening condition, with as many as one child out of thirteen suffering from the disorder. Although food allergies have long been associated with childhood, they now affect six percent of the adult population as well. In fact, it has become less likely that affected children will lose their food allergies as they reach adulthood, leading food allergies to double in prevalence over the past ten years. Up to eleven percent of individuals with food allergies could suffer a fatal or near fatal reaction, such as anaphylactic shock, over the course of their lifetimes. Yet despite the severity and pervasiveness of this dangerous condition, there currently exists no treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food allergies or food sensitivities. The only known therapy is complete avoidance of any food containing even the smallest trace of an allergen, a practice which can be disruptive and isolating, especially in the life of a child. In recent years, food allergy researchers at Stanford have taken great strides in developing new therapies for individuals suffering from food allergies and food sensitivities. However, many critical issues remain unresolved. In addition to the lack of a cure, the cause of food allergies is still unknown. Reliable food allergy diagnostic tests do not exist, nor are any predictors available to determine which patients may outgrow their food allergies, or which patients’ food allergies may lead to severe and dangerous complications. In an effort to expand scientific understanding of food allergies, and develop new and lasting food allergy treatments for patients everywhere, Stanford University scientists and clinicians seek to establish the Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford School of Medicine. Directed by Kari Nadeau, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally renowned expert in the field of immunology, the Center will become the unparalleled leader in research and clinical care for food allergies and food sensitivities. The goals of the Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity Center are to: 1) Conduct laboratory research to discover the immunological mechanisms of food allergy, and translate these discoveries into clinical interventions 2) Train students, post docs, and early-career physicians in the research and treatment of food allergies 3) Provide educational outreach programs throughout the community to support patients and their families affected by food allergy disorders, and increase public awareness of the prevalence of food allergies To date, Stanford researchers have made substantial progress in research and clinical work, leading to the patenting of new diagnostic tests, the discovery of epigenetic changes associated with food allergy, and, most importantly, the development of new therapies that could lead to long-term cures. The next step on the pathway to a cure is to more fully integrate these investigations and clinical efforts into an interdisciplinary center with research, treatment, education, and outreach components. Stanford is now poised to take this critical step by establishing the Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity Center. Research The Center would enable scientists from across the university to bring new disciplinary perspectives to the study of food allergies. Specialists in fields such as gastroenterology, psychology, and otolaryngology have the potential to introduce critical insights and groundbreaking methodology to the field. By increasing available resources for laboratory research, the Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity Center will create new opportunities for scientists from all backgrounds to make exciting contributions to food allergy research. The Center will greatly expand Stanford’s capacity for clinical food allergy research as well, enabling more patients to participate in studies and gain access to potentially life-saving cures. In addition to fostering new directions in clinical and laboratory research, the Center will also introduce a new research dimension to food allergy study by utilizing computational biology for data storage and management. Clinical Care The Center will establish a new, multidisciplinary outpatient ambulatory clinic, where physicians from different subspecialties (including gastroenterology, dermatology, and psychology) would work together during clinic visits to diagnose food allergies and help manage each patient’s condition. Following the evaluations, team members would hold a formal wrap-up meeting in order to provide clinical impressions and recommendations, and discuss an integrated diagnostic and treatment plan. In addition to bringing Stanford’s state-of-the-art treatments to more patients, this clinic would serve as a national and international referral center for clinical studies, attracting patients from all over the world to the Center. Education One of the primary goals of the Center is to educate post docs and early-career faculty in the latest developments in food allergy research, so they can achieve new breakthroughs in carrying this work forward. Increased investment in research and training will enable the Center to develop a long-term and sustained training and mentoring program for physicians and scientists in the field of food allergy. Outreach Because the needs of patients and families affected by food allergies are so complex, the Center would like to establish a dedicated group to help educate families and coordinate care. This group will advocate for food allergy awareness and research in the local community, and work to improve the quality of life for food allergy patients. Through its outreach effort, the Center will create newsletters and webinars, and offer support group activities and other learning opportunities. With a significant philanthropic investment, the Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities Research Center will be able to attract the most innovative and accomplished researchers, and draw patients from all over the world, to participate in the Center’s pioneering work.
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