December 10, 2019

MHWFAC to host food allergy research symposium in Ann Arbor

Food allergy thought leaders from around the world will convene on the University of Michigan campus in June at an inaugural conference organized and hosted by U-M’s Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center (MHWFAC).

The two-day symposium, “Mechanisms and Treatment of Food Allergy,” will feature an array of distinguished speakers and panelists, to explore and discuss the latest in food allergy discovery and translational research.  The conference will take place June 11-12, 2020, at U-M’s North Campus Research Center in Ann Arbor. 

“A remarkable group of scientists, clinicians, regulators, industry representatives and patient advocates will gather to discuss the genesis of this epidemic — and current treatment and diagnostic approaches to manage it,” said James R. Baker, M.D., an allergist and founding director of the center.  “It will be an interactive cross-disciplinary meeting and will truly advance the discourse on this incredibly challenging disease.”

Food allergy is a growing and costly public health concern. An estimated 20 million Americans are coping with the life-altering – and frequently life-threatening – effects of the condition.  The economic impact to families is estimated at about $25 billion in the United States alone.   For reasons that elude medical experts, the incidence of severe food allergy is on the rise, with a 50 percent increase in number of children diagnosed from 1997 to 2011. 

“The symposium will highlight the most recent, most significant discovery, and advance understanding for both clinicians and scientists,” Baker said.  “We expect this robust exchange will lead to new collaborations and partnerships as well as opening up additional avenues of research.”

The symposium is sponsored by the Michigan Food Allergy Research Accelerator (M-FARA), developed with a five-year, $5 million anonymous gift to the MHWFAC.  Through research grants and other support, M-FARA aims to transform understanding of the mechanisms driving an increase in food allergy rates, and to develop innovative strategies for diagnosing and treating food allergies.