Food Allergy Research takes strides to build a leading center
The Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center — or MHWFAC — at the U-M Medical School had an eventful year focused on building an internationally-recognized food allergy research program. The aim of the program is to investigate novel approaches and develop new treatments for a widespread problem.
The MHWFAC’s goals include establishing outstanding research in food allergy, identifying areas to bridge translational research with pre-clinical expertise, creating forums for researchers to interact, initiating clinical trial opportunities and recruiting top researchers to join the team.
The center has been supported by tremendous fundraising efforts, including the naming of the center through a gift from Ron and Eileen Weiser and the creation of five endowed professorships.
One of those positions was filled this past fall by Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D, who was installed as the first Nina and Jerry D. Luptak Research Professor.
The center also received a generous grant from the William Davidson Foundation to be used for recruitment efforts and will support the center’s quest to expand the knowledge and understanding of food allergies. In recognition of the foundation’s generosity, the MHWFAC’s laboratories have been named the Davidson Family Food Allergy Research Laboratories.
This past year, the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center also established the Food Allergy Pilot Grant Program. This allows the MHWFAC the opportunity to examine new and innovative areas that may provide novel insight into the development and treatment of food allergy with U-M scientists from other areas of research. This initial year, the center funded two outstanding proposals from Steven Lundy, Ph.D., and Nobu Kamada, M.D., Ph.D.
The U-M Food Allergy Clinic established a center for clinical trials through the Food Allergy Research & Education Centers of Excellence, a nationwide network of leading research and clinical care facilities with a common goal of ensuring that patients with food allergies have access to state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatments and research.
Other high points included a very successful annual spring luncheon that raised awareness and funds for food allergy research; Jessica O’Konek, Ph.D., MHWFAC Research Investigator, being awarded an abstract prize at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology meeting in Vienna for her food allergy vaccine research; and the recruitment of a fellow who will begin translational research.
For more information on the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, please visit the center’s website.