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Leading Food Allergy Research and Advocacy Groups Merge to Find Cure for Life-Threatening Childhood Disease

February 2, 2009
NEW YORK, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Food Allergy 
Initiative and The Food Allergy Project today announced a merger 
of their organizations, a powerful combination that will 
increase public awareness of the severity of life-threatening 
food allergies, empower advocates and family support groups, 
and encourage the nation's leaders to increase funding for this 
potentially deadly disease. The National Institutes of Health 
(NIH) has said that "food allergy has emerged as an important 
public health problem," and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 
recently noted that rates are rising significantly among children. 
Food allergies afflict more than 12 million Americans, including 
approximately three million children and teenagers under the 
age of 18.

For more than a decade, The Food Allergy Initiative and The Food 
Allergy Project have committed research dollars, led public 
awareness efforts and advocated on behalf of families affected by 
food allergies. By combining forces, the new organization, which 
will use The Food Allergy Initiative name, will represent the 
largest private source of funding for food allergy research 
and will serve as a voice for millions of families to call on 
the federal government and private sources to collaborate in 
search of a cure. The combined entity has already contributed 
more than $60 million to basic scientific research and 
educational efforts. Following the merger, David Bunning, 
co-founder of The Food Allergy Project, joined the board of 
directors of The Food Allergy Initiative.
"For a number of years, The Food Allergy Initiative and The 
Food Allergy Project have worked toward a common goal of 
finding a cure for life-threatening food allergies," said 
Todd Slotkin, Chairman and President of The Food Allergy 
Initiative. "After partnering on many important research 
and advocacy initiatives, our two organizations have now 
formally joined together with a renewed commitment to bring 
families affected by food allergies the treatments that we 
are all so eager to find."
David and Denise Bunning, parents of two severely food-allergic 
sons, founded The Food Allergy Project after privately funding 
research for a number of years and leading local family support 
groups in their Chicago-area hometown. Since 2006, The Food 
Allergy Project has championed increased federal funding for 
food allergy research, resulting in commitments from leading 
federal agencies for the disease. The Food Allergy Initiative 
has led the charge on food allergy research, providing 
significant funding to major medical centers in the U.S. and 
overseas, including the world-renowned Jaffe Institute for 
Food Allergy Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New 
York, NY).  The Food Allergy Initiative also has driven public 
policy solutions, including the passage in 2004 of the Food 
Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). With 
rates of food allergies rising dramatically and far outstripping 
the research community's current resources dedicated to the 
disease, these leading organizations will now join forces to 
call for action from the nation's leaders.
"This merger represents the joining together of like-minded 
parents, advocates and researchers who are committed to 
finding a cure for life-threatening food allergies," said 
David Bunning. "Our children deserve the right to reach 
their full potential, and Denise and I are thrilled to merge 
our organization with The Food Allergy Initiative to bring 
hope for a cure to millions of children."
Hugh A. Sampson, M.D., a prominent researcher and president 
of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 
(AAAAI), noted that the two organizations have played a key 
role in advancing food allergy research over the past decade.  
"Food allergy research was very limited until concerned 
families founded these organizations," he said.  "This merger 
couldn't have come at a more critical moment.  In this 
challenging economy, competition for federal research grants 
will be more intense than ever.  If we want to attract more 
investigators to the field, they need to know that they have 
a powerful voice in Washington -- and that substantial funds 
are available from a sound, trusted private source as well."
There are no medications to cure or control food allergies. A 
strict diet and avoidance of the allergenic food is the only 
way to avoid a reaction, yet the most common allergens -- peanuts, 
tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy -- are 
staples of the food supply and virtually impossible to avoid 
completely. Accidental exposure to even a minuscule amount of the 
offending food can cause an allergic individual to react within 
seconds, often leading to life-threatening anaphylaxis that 
causes throat swelling, a dramatic drop in blood pressure, 
vomiting and even death within a matter of minutes. Although 
researchers estimate that food allergies cause tens of 
thousands of emergency room visits each year, they do not 
understand why rates are increasing so alarmingly, 
particularly among children.  As the CDC report indicated, 
in a recent five-year period, the rates of peanut allergies 
among children literally doubled, and allergies to other 
foods are similarly increasing.
The Food Allergy Initiative (www.faiusa.org) was founded 
in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents to support: 
basic and clinical research worldwide; better public 
policies to make the world safer for those afflicted; and 
educational programs to make the hospitality industry, 
schools, day care centers, and camps safer. Entering its 
11th year, FAI has raised and invested more than $42 
million toward its mission. FAI has formed research 
partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and 
the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 
and has funded studies at Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, 
King's College (London), McMaster University (Ontario), 
the University of Michigan, Mount Sinai School of Medicine 
(New York, NY), UCLA, the University of Washington, and 
other major medical institutions worldwide.
The Food Allergy Project is a national coalition of 
parents, researchers, educators and experts who joined 
together to increase the federal resources dedicated to 
food allergy research and to fund scientific studies 
that will lead to a cure. For nearly a decade, The Food 
Allergy Project and its founders have supported vital 
research initiatives at leading scientific institutions 
such as Duke University, Chicago's Children's Memorial 
Hospital, Northwestern University, Harvard Medical School 
and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
To learn more, please visit www.faiusa.org or contact 
212-207-1974 or info@faiusa.org.
SOURCE  Food Allergy Initiative
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