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Annual Report 2012-2013

AllerGen's Annual Report is now available in English and French.

Circle of Care

Circle of Care
- Taking Control of Asthma

The Asthma Society of Canada is pleased to present the online versions of the patient brochure:
Circle of Care - Taking Control of Asthma.

English | French

KT Tool

KT Tool in PDF format

KT Tool in Modules:
Word and Excel format

Part A Download
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Partner Organizations Contact Info Download
Research Participants Contact Info Download


 Airways November 2013

Airways, November 2013 (PDF)

reAction, March 2014


Agenda, Winter 2014

Upcoming Events

Featured News

AllerGen Success Stories

Winter 2014    Summer 2013   Spring 2013    Spring 2012    Summer 2011

Homeopaths are now medical experts?

Professor Timothy Caulfield, an AllerGen investigator and a University of Alberta professor of health law and science policy, recently wrote that the inclusion of an advocate of homeopathic medicine on an expert health panel for CBC’s “The National” does not provide a legitimate source of evidence-based health information.

Read Professor Caulfield’s “Open Letter to CBC's Peter Mansbridge” published as a guest post by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff on his blog site, Weighty Matters.

It’s World Allergy Week!


April 7, 2014, marks the first day of World Allergy Week, organized by the World Allergy Organization (WAO). This year’s theme, Anaphylaxis - When Allergies Can Be Severe and Fatal, addresses the growing problem of anaphylaxis—a potentially life-threatening allergic condition that involves several organ systems.

Anything from bee stings to medications can trigger anaphylaxis, but it is food allergies, particularly allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, milk or eggs, that appear to be the most common triggers. In 2010, a nationwide study found that about 2.5 million Canadians, or one in 13, suffer from a significant food allergy.

In Canada, AllerGen NCE investigator Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan is one of the driving forces behind the Cross-Canada Anaphylaxis Registry, also known as C-CARE—the first registry in the world to track episodes of anaphylaxis as they are reported.

This unique database is helping Dr. Ben-Shoshan and a multidisciplinary research team, including AllerGen investigators Dr. Ann Clarke and Dr. Susan Waserman, to assess Canada’s rate of anaphylaxis, and monitor the triggers and management of the condition in emergency medical services, emergency departments and allergy clinics across the country.

To read about C-CARE research, click here.

For more information on World Allergy Week and to view the WAO press release, click here.

AllerGen trainee receives competitive leadership award

Natalia Mykhaylova


University of Toronto (U of T), PhD student, Natalia Mykhaylova, has received the Professor Douglas Reeve Leaders of Tomorrow Award. This award recognizes graduate students in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry who have shown the potential to become outstanding leaders, and to inspire others to action and to excellence.

Natalia serves as a co-chair for U of T’s Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering: Graduate (ILead:Grad), a role that has allowed her to support and mentor others to develop their leadership skills.

Natalia is part of the AllerGen-funded BEAM (Better Exposure Avoidance Measures) research project that is developing inexpensive air-quality monitoring devices. She works under the supervision of AllerGen investigator Dr. Greg Evans.

Winnipeg spotlight firmly fixed on CHILD researchers

AllerGen researchers at the University of Manitoba have once again been featured in local news coverage about the CHILD Study. The March 27, 2014 episode of “Small Wonders” on CTV Winnipeg featured researchers, Dr. Allan Becker and Dr. Meghan Azad, Study participants, and highlighted the need for further research funding.

CHILD researchers Dr. Allan Becker and Dr. Meghan Azad

Continuation of the Study is “so important when you are trying to understand how disease and health develop and evolve over time,” said Dr. Becker. Sherri Pinkerton, who participates in the Study with her two daughters, commented that the CHILD Study “gives the researchers a lot of insight into what could potentially be causing asthma and allergies that are so prevalent.”

To view the Small Wonders episode, click here.

Anaphylaxis Canada hosts 7th Annual Community Conference

Anaphylaxis Canada will host its 7th Annual Community Conference, Managing food allergies: Working together for a safer future, on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the Delta Hotel in Markham, Ontario.

This interactive, informative event will feature:

  • Workshops, panel discussions and presentations by clinical experts
  • Exhibits showcasing products and services from local and national vendors
  • Information on food allergy bullying, understanding anxiety in kids with food allergies, and much more

The conference is open to patients, families, educators, healthcare professionals and community members interested in learning about food allergy and anaphylaxis management.

To register, visit the Anaphylaxis Canada website at

“Is it something in our DNA, the environment or both?”

AllerGen researchers at the University of Manitoba have been featured in local news coverage about the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study.

AllerGen’s CHILD Study is following 3,500 Canadian children from pre-birth to age five, in order to examine how genetics and what a child is exposed to during pregnancy and in the first few years of life can influence the risk of developing allergies, asthma, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Watch the CTV News Morning Live interview with Dr. Meghan Azad and CTV News highlight clip here.

Talented AllerGen trainee to meet Nobel Laureates

AllerGen trainee and gut microbiome researcher Dr. Meghan Azad has been selected to attend a prestigious week-long meeting that unites more than 30 Nobel Prize winners with 600 of the world’s brightest young scientists.

Dr. Meghan Azad


The 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Physiology or Medicine) will be held June 29 - July 4, 2014, in Landau, Germany. The annual event—the only one of its kind in the world—provides a unique opportunity for the intercultural and intergenerational exchange of knowledge and ideas between Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physiology, medicine and physics, and talented young scientists from across the globe.

“I am so excited to be given the opportunity to 'rub shoulders' with these prestigious scientists. Can you imagine brainstorming with a Nobel Prize winner, let alone 30 of them, for an entire week? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Dr. Azad.

Dr. Azad’s research uses samples from AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study to investigate the impact of antibiotics, breastfeeding and environmental factors on infant gut microbiota and the subsequent development of allergic disease. Dr. Azad is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta under the supervision of AllerGen researcher, Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj. She was named a Banting Post-doctoral Fellow in September 2013.

The 2014 Nobel Laureate Meeting meeting will focus on the topics of physiology or medicine, and allow Nobel Prize winners and young scientists to discuss topics such as global health, the challenges to medical care in developing countries and future research approaches to medicine.

Commercialization of biobanks a murky issue


Biobanks are important research platforms that involve the collection and storage of human health data and biological samples, including DNA, blood, urine and tissues. According to AllerGen Principal Investigator and health law expert, Professor Tim Caulfield, biobanks may operate in murky waters, facing ethical and security questions associated with public trust, consent and ownership of samples.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Professor Caulfield and co-authors, including AllerGen Research Leaders Drs Allan Becker and Malcolm Sears, explore the challenges of commercializing biobanks for the purpose of advancing medical research and knowledge.

Read how Canadians feel about the commercialization of biobanks here.

Experts evaluate food allergy ‘apps’

How useful are smartphone apps designed for people with food allergies in mind?

In the lead-up to The Allergy Fix—a new The Nature of Things documentary about food allergies in Canada and beyond—CBC interviews a consultant at Anaphylaxis Canada and clinical expert Dr. Scott Sicherer about the benefits of mobile apps for food allergies.

“There’s a big difference if you’re deciding if something’s going to send you into [life-threatening] anaphylaxis, or if the calories are higher or lower. The margin of error is different,” says Dr. Sicherer, Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Click here to read the full article.

The Allergy Fix, which features AllerGen researchers Dr. Susan Waserman and Dr. Stuart Turvey, airs Thursday, February 27, 2014, at 7 p.m. EST on CBC.

Pushing toward personalized medicine

AllerGen Principal Investigator Professor Tim Caulfield will speak on the topic of The Policy Challenges and Health Limits of Personalized Medicine at The University of British Columbia on Thursday, February 20, 2014, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Professor Caulfield’s presentation, which is open to the public, will explore the recent “push” toward personalized medicine and its limits, including the data regarding clinical value and whether genomic risk information will help individuals to live healthier lives.

For more information on the event and Professor Caulfield, click here.

Athletes allergic to Sochi?

The Norwegian alpine skier, Aksel Lund Svindal, recently withdrew from his final event at the Sochi Olympics, citing allergies and the use of medications to combat itchy eyes and a runny nose.

Dr. Chris Carlsten, an AllerGen Principal Investigator who researches the health effects of air pollution, was contacted from Sochi, Russia, to comment on the possible role of the city’s concrete dust in causing allergic symptoms in Olympic athletes. Read Dr. Carlsten’s comments in the February 19 Toronto Star article.

Dr. Carlsten is the Chair in Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease and Associate Professor of Medicine at The University of British Columbia (UBC).

Former AllerGen trainee chosen for international research on anaphylaxis

Dr. Jennifer Protudjer,
Karolinska Institute


Dr. Jennifer Protudjer, a past President of the AllerGen Students and New Professionals Network (ASNPN), has been named one of three post-doctoral fellows to investigate anaphylaxis and the risk factors associated with severe allergic reactions at the Centre for Allergy Research (CfA) at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Karolinska Institute is an AllerGen partner and one of the world’s leading medical universities. The new research initiative—funded through a donation from Karin and Sten Mörtstedt CBD Solutions AB—will study the factors that precipitate anaphylactic reactions with the goal of improving diagnosis and developing new treatments. Dr. Protudjer’s research will examine the prognosis of food allergy from childhood through adolescence. A kick-off ceremony for the project will be held on February 13, 2014.

Dr. Protudjer originally developed her relationships at the Karolinska Institute during a six-week trainee exchange made possible through AllerGen’s International Partnership Initiative (IPI) funding, which aims to produce globally-engaged scientists in the fields of allergy and asthma.

Traffic fumes affect asthma in children genetically susceptible to the disease

AllerGen researchers at The University of British Columbia, University of Alberta and University of Manitoba, in partnership with collaborators in Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, have identified that children with a specific genetic profile may be at an increased risk of developing asthma after exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TrAP).

Dr. Michael Brauer


Dr. Chris Carlsten


The Traffic pollution, Asthma, Genetics (TAG) Study is the first Canadian-European consortium to examine how traffic-related air pollution and genetic profiles contribute to the development of childhood asthma.

The study is led by AllerGen investigators, Dr. Michael Brauer, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health, and Dr. Chris Carlsten, Chair in Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease, at The University of British Columbia.

Study findings, published in January in Environmental Health Perspectives, suggested that children with one variant of the gluathione S-transferase P1, or GSTP1 gene, had double the expected risk of developing asthma associated with traffic-related air pollution. “This supports the plausibility of a causal relationship and brings us closer to understanding the mechanism of action of traffic pollution in vulnerable people,” said Dr. Brauer.

The TAG Study combined data from over 15,000 children enrolled in six (two Canadian and four European) birth cohorts. "Generous partnership with our European colleagues allowed us to gather enough children to show an effect that would likely be hidden within a smaller group; extrapolating to the global population, this has important public health implications," Dr. Carlsten commented.

AllerGen investigator joins Board of Directors of Clinical Trials Ontario

Dr. Anne Ellis


Dr. Anne Ellis, a Kingston-based allergy specialist and an AllerGen Principal Investigator, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Clinical Trials Ontario for a three-year term.

Established in 2012, Clinical Trials Ontario is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to attracting global clinical trials investments to the province. The organization aims to improve the speed and reduce costs of multi-centre clinical trials by streamlining the research ethics approval process, harmonizing administrative processes, and improving participant recruitment and retention through education about the benefits of clinical trials.

Dr. Ellis is Associate Professor and Chair, Division of Allergy & Immunology, Department of Medicine, Queen's University and Principal Investigator of AllerGen's Clinical Investigator Collaborative—Allergic Rhinitis.

AllerGen 9th Annual Trainee Symposium


April 30 - May 2, 2014
Richmond, BC
Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel

Open to all AllerGen trainees and ASNPN members.
Space is limited.
Registration Deadline:
March 15, 2014.

For more information contact Michelle Harkness


AllerGen trainee gains international research experience

Dr. Jeremy Hirota


With funding provided by AllerGen’s International Trainee Research Visit Program, Dr. Jeremy Hirota recently spent eight weeks working with Professor Philip Hansbro at The University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases in New South Wales, Australia.

During his stay, Dr. Hirota performed in vitro and in vivo experiments to study how uric acid— an antioxidant naturally produced by the body—may contribute to airway health and disease. Ultimately, Dr. Hirota hopes to determine how the lung copes with environmental insults with the goal of informing public policy to improve air quality for Canadians. Dr. Hirota is supervised by AllerGen Investigator, Dr. Chris Carlsten at The University of British Columbia.

In 2011, AllerGen and the The University of Newcastle signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which supports training and skill acquisition opportunities for trainees and young professionals in both Canada and Australia.

The CHILD Study helps provide answers about family pets and childhood allergies


Owning a dog may protect against the development of allergies if exposure begins in the womb to the first year of life, according to an overview of relevant research presented in the Winter 2014 issue of Allergic Living magazine.


The article “Child’s Best Friend” highlights research conducted between 1999 and 2012 investigating the impact of pets on a child’s risk of developing allergies. AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study — a birth cohort study following 3,330 Canadian infants from pre-birth to age five — was featured as an important study looking at the connection between allergies and early-life environmental exposures, such as pets, among other factors.

Dr. Malcolm Sears, Research Leader for the CHILD Study, and Dr. James Scott, one of the study’s co-investigators, were both interviewed by Allergic Living. Early data from a small subgroup of CHILD Study participants has revealed that household pets and siblings increase an infant’s exposure to environmental microbes and influence the makeup of the gut microbiota, which may have implications for the development of allergies.

To read the study “Infant gut microbiota and the hygiene hypothesis of allergic disease: impact of household pets and siblings on microbiota composition and diversity,” co-authored by Drs Sears and Scott, click here.

"Dean Befus Asthma Clinic" opens in El Salvador

Dr. Dean Befus


On November 28, 2013, a much-needed asthma clinic opened in El Salvador’s National Lung Hospital. The "Clinica del Asma: Dr. Dean Befus" is named after AllerGen investigator Dr. Dean Befus, director the University of Alberta-based Alberta Asthma Centre, who spearheaded the initiative to help establish the new facility. Support from AllerGen was essential in the development of cooperative relationships which led to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Alberta Asthma Centre and the country’s Ministry of Health.

The project provided staff training; developed a spectrum of teaching and educational materials; and secured a donation from Alberta Health Services of major pulmonary function equipment. Under the leadership of Dr. Befus and his colleague Dr. Gustavo Zayas, the Alberta Asthma Centre will continue to collaborate with their partners in El Salvador towards the development of a national Asthma Management Program and accessibility to high quality, inexpensive asthma drugs across the country.

Trainee Meghan Azad publishes on probiotics and childhood asthma in BMJ


AllerGen trainee and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Meghan Azad (University of Alberta) is lead author on an article that concludes there is insufficient evidence to recommend probiotic supplementation for the prevention of childhood asthma and wheeze.

Published in the December 2013 issue of BMJ, the article "Probiotic supplementation during pregnancy or infancy for the prevention of asthma and wheeze: systematic review and meta-analysis" investigates the relationship between the use of probiotic supplements during pregnancy or the first year of an infant’s life and the development of childhood asthma and wheeze. Having found no evidence of a protective association, the authors conclude that, based on current knowledge, "probiotics cannot be recommended for primary prevention of childhood asthma or wheeze." Co-authors include AllerGen investigators Dr. Allan Becker (University of Manitoba) and Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj (University of Alberta).


AllerGen researchers comment on Canadian recommendation to introduce potentially allergenic foods as early as six months

AllerGen investigators Drs Anne Ellis and Stuart Turvey recently commented on a joint position statement issued by Canadian pediatricians and allergists, which recommends that babies at risk for food allergies may eat potential “trigger” foods as early as six months.

Dr. Anne Ellis, Queen’s University


Dr. Ellis, an associate professor of medicine and Chair of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Queen’s University, spoke with the CBC’s Ontario Morning in a phone interview.

“These recommendations reflect what allergists have been recommending for a couple of years now,” Dr. Ellis said. “There is clear-cut evidence from the research that the recommendations we have been following for so long — delaying the introduction of high-risk allergenic foods — truly did not do anything to prevent the development of food allergies, and possibly could be associated with the increase in allergies that we have seen over the past 10 years.”

Dr. Stuart Turvey, The University of British Columbia


Dr. Turvey is an associate professor of pediatric immunology at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver site leader for AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal (CHILD) Study — a national birth cohort study investigating the early-life influence of genes and the environment on the development of allergies and asthma.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Dr. Turvey suggested that the spike in asthma, seasonal allergies and food allergies in recent decades is likely multifactorial, influenced by such factors as air pollution, modern housing and a variety of lifestyle changes, including reduced contact with farm animals.

The position statement, issued jointly by the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) and the Canadian Society of Clinical Immunology (CSACI) on December 2, 2013, has also been endorsed by the Dietitians of Canada.

Dr. Allan Becker brings the CHILD Study to Manitoba television viewers


University of Manitoba-based AllerGen investigator Dr. Allan Becker was recently featured on "Doctors Care"—a multi-episode television series on healthcare produced by Doctors Manitoba and broadcast throughout the province. In Episode 4, on Children's Health Research, Dr. Becker spoke about the importance of AllerGen's Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study and the scope of its investigation into genetic predispositions and environmental factors in the development of allergies and asthma. Dr. Becker is the Manitoba site leader of the CHILD Study.

View the CHILD segment of the program or the full episode here.

Post-Doc Opportunity at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute


The Centre for Allergy Research (CfA) of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, an AllerGen research partner, invites applications to a post-doctoral research position in Chemometrics, Biostatistics and ‘Omics data integration. The successful candidate will join the multidisciplinary ChAMP (CfA highlights Asthma Markers for Phenotyping) project, a collaboration between the Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca. The project employs an integrated approach to understanding disease and to developing predictive models in asthma, allergies and COPD.

The application deadline is January 15, 2014.

For a full description of the opportunity, application details and contact information, CLICK HERE.

New Canadian guidelines on the introduction of potentially allergenic foods to babies

Delaying the introduction of potential “trigger” foods, such as peanut, fish or egg, beyond six months of age, does not prevent, and may even increase, the risk of developing food allergy, according to new guidelines from Canadian pediatricians and allergists. The position statement, issued jointly by the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) and the Canadian Society of Clinical Immunology (CSACI) on December 2, 2013, has also been endorsed by the Dietitians of Canada.

Although parents may hold off introducing specific solid foods until the first year or even later—particularly for babies with a parent or sibling who has a food allergy or another allergic condition like eczema, asthma or hay fever—the current best evidence suggests there is no significant protective effect on allergy prevention.

The new Canadian recommendations, which also suggest that mothers should not restrict these foods from their diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding, are consistent with guidelines from the United States and Europe. Additional research on tolerance induction by introducing solid foods earlier than six months, is currently underway. Read the CPS/CSACI position statement.

“Bold innovation” to develop bronchitis test strip wins Grand Challenges Canada award

A project to develop a simple test strip to measure bronchitis in patients with asthma and COPD has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Grand Challenges Canada's global health care program.

Dr. Parameswaran Nair, an AllerGen investigator and the CIHR Canada Research Chair in Airway Inflammometry at McMaster University, has developed the test, which measures the quantity of eosinophil peroxidase (EPX), a protein that can be detected in sputum.

Dr. John Brennan, a Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and the Director of McMaster University’s BioInterfaces Institute, is helping Dr. Nair transform the technology into a simple, paper-based strip by using novel “bio-inks.” The bioactive paper would offer an inexpensive, diagnostic test for infectious and allergic bronchitis that could be performed at home or in a doctor’s office.

“This frugal innovation, we hope will change the way airway diseases are managed globally, both in resource-poor and resource-high countries, and in both children and adults,” Dr. Nair explains in his online video about the project. He continues this work as a legacy to the late Dr. Freddy Hargreave who pioneered the use of sputum cell counts at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health (Hamilton, Ontario) to treat patients with severe airway diseases. In the next phase of this research, Dr. Nair and Dr. Brennan plan to use the strip to study the treatment of bronchitis in India.

The project was one of 83 “creative, out-of-the-box ideas” selected for recognition from among 451 applications to Grand Challenges Canada—a federal agency dedicated to supporting bold ideas with big impact in global health. The award was announced November 21, 2013, and featured in The Hamilton Spectator and GlobalNews.

Development of the biosensor test strip is also supported by funding from a CIHR -NSERC grant through the Collaborative Health Research Program. Dr. Nair's research program is supported by AllerGen NCE.

“Modern Life versus microbes” article highlights CHILD Study

Postmedia News outlets, including the Montreal Gazette, The Province (BC), The Windsor Star and The Ottawa Citizen, recently highlighted AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study and ongoing research on the importance of the human microbiome. AllerGen investigator, Dr. Stuart Turvey, and Dr. Brett Finlay, both professors at The University of British Columbia (UBC), were interviewed for the article, “Modern life versus microbes: Our obsession with clean living is harming us.”

Dr. Turvey leads the Vancouver arm of the CHILD Study—a birth cohort study of roughly 3,500 children in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario that investigates early-life influences contributing to the development of asthma and allergies.

Dr. Finlay’s UBC-based research lab is working with Dr. Turvey to explore how antibiotics affect the development of children’s microbiota and immune systems using samples obtained from CHILD Study participants.

Read the Postmedia News article here.

AllerGen investigators share clinical expertise at food allergy fair

Allergy experts Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan and Dr. Yuka Asai gave free public lectures in front of a standing-room only crowd at a food allergy fair on Saturday, November 9, 2013, in Montréal.

Drs Ben-Shoshan and Asai answer questions at AQAA Food Allergy Fair.

Drs Ben-Shoshan and Asai, both AllerGen investigators from McGill University, discussed the genetic links to peanut allergy, the mechanisms of food allergies and the development of a new pan-Canadian database to track cases of anaphylaxis.

The event was hosted by the Quebec Food Allergy Association (AQAA) to promote awareness and understanding of food allergies and featured expert speakers, interactive workshops, kiosks and recipe demonstrations.

Clean Air Champions receives 2013 International Olympic Committee award

Clean Air Champions, an Ottawa-based national charity and an AllerGen partner, has been awarded the 2013 International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Sport and Environment Award. Deirdre Laframboise, co-founder and Executive Director of Clean Air Champions, accepted the award at the IOC World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Sochi.

Clean Air Champions is devoted to inspire Canadians to live more sustainable, active and healthier lifestyles and is the first Canadian charity to receive the prestigious award. Read more about the award and the upcoming Sochi Olympics at

‘Salon’ for food allergies to be held in Montréal,
November 9

Food Allergy Fair


The Quebec Food Allergy Association (AQAA) will host its first annual ‘Salon for food allergies’ on Saturday, November 9, 2013. This free public fair will feature:
•  Interactive workshops, kiosks, contests and prizes
•  Allergen-free recipe demonstrations by a local chef
•  Presentations on school bullying of youth with food allergies and the use of epinephrine versus antihistamines
•  Expert advice from healthcare professionals and allergists

The Salon will be held at the Complexe Desjardins, Grande Place in Montréal from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 9. For more information and directions, visit the Quebec Food Allergy Association website at

Hamilton Spectator features AllerGen researchers

Several AllerGen researchers were featured in “Picture of Health: The players and the innovators in Hamilton's health care sector,” part of the October 24 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

“Working to stem the rising tide in allergies” highlights Dr. Judah Denburg’s research, which focuses on the underlying causes of asthma and allergy and the mechanisms of allergic inflammation, including the role played by cells in bone marrow.

“Unravelling why heart disease targets ethnic groups” describes Dr. Sonia Anand's work to shed light on how environmental, dietary and genetic factors influence the development of heart disease.

“Cracking the case on asthma’s rapid rise” features Dr. Paul O’Byrne’s research investigating why the number of children with asthma has quadrupled in the past 20 years.  

The Hamilton Spectator health supplement is available online at


Going gluten free under debate

There is no credible evidence to suggest that embracing a wheat- and gluten-free diet is a wise lifestyle choice—except for people with specific ailments such as celiac disease—according to a recent commentary by Professor Timothy Caulfield, an AllerGen investigator and a University of Alberta professor of health law and science policy. 

“Gwyneth and Miley may believe gluten-free works wonders, but the science tells a different, more complex, story,” Professor Caulfield wrote, in a special commentary to the Star on October 18. Read Professor Caulfield’s commentary here.

AllerGen investigator wins prestigious Trudeau Fellowship

Timothy Caulfield


Professor Timothy Caulfield, a health law expert whose work debunks common health myths and informs the development of Canadian health and science policies, has been chosen as a 2013 Trudeau Fellowship recipient.

The fellowship, valued at $225,000 over three years, recognizes exceptional contributions in research, creativity and commitment to solving social issues important to Canada.

Professor Caulfield is the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and a professor at the University of Alberta. His research explores the legal, ethical and social implications of emerging health technologies, such as genetic testing and stem cell research; complementary and alternative medicine; the commercialization of research; and access to health care, among others.

He is also a Principal Investigator on several AllerGen research projects that broaden our understanding of how evidence can be used in the development of public policies and legislative initiatives relevant to the asthma and allergy community.

Established in 2001, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation supports outstanding scholars in four areas that relate to the life and work of former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau: human rights and dignity; responsible citizenship; international affairs; and the environment. Each year, the Foundation selects up to five fellows who have demonstrated excellence in one or more of these thematic areas.

The 2013 Trudeau Fellowship winners were announced on October 16, 2013, at the Université de Montréal in Montréal, Québec.

A fond remembrance of an asthma and allergy pioneer

Dr. Redwan Moqbel


Dr. Redwan Moqbel, an internationally renowned authority on the pathophysiology of asthma, passed away on October 9, 2013, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a protracted battle with cancer. Dr. Moqbel, a longtime AllerGen NCE friend and colleague, was best known for his work to elucidate the immunobiology of human eosinophils and their potential role in airway disease. He was among the first to identify the immunological cell types that regulate asthma and allergy.

As a founding member of the AllerGen Board of Directors, a former Research Management Committee member and joint Theme Leader for the Diagnostics and Therapeutics research area, and as a Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on numerous AllerGen research projects, including the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, Dr. Moqbel provided vision and leadership to the entire AllerGen Network.

Dr. Moqbel leaves behind his wife, Shar Mitchell, as well as children, grandchildren, family, friends, and a scientific community in Canada and abroad who are saddened by his passing. An obituary can be viewed online at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Understanding the impact of maternal and infant nutrition in the first years of life

Dr. Sonia Anand


Dr. Sonia Anand, AllerGen Principal Investigator and Professor of Medicine at McMaster University, and a team of maternal/child health researchers from across Canada have recently received a $2 million grant to investigate the role of maternal and infant nutrition on the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardio-metabolic disorders, allergies and asthma.

The project, titled Understanding the impact of maternal and infant nutrition on infant/child health in the first 5 years of life, was ranked second in the competition and awarded a five-year grant through a Programmatic Grant Program in Food and Health sponsored by the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.

The study will explore how maternal nutrition interacts with genetic factors of the mother and fetus and the potential impacts on an infant’s risk of adverse health outcomes, including excess body fat, abnormal blood lipids and blood sugar, allergies and asthma.

Using data from four birth cohorts, including AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, the project aims to improve infant health outcomes in diverse Canadian populations, including Caucasians, South Asians, and Aboriginal people.

AllerGen trainees seated at Young Canadians Roundtable on Health

AllerGen trainees, Timothy Chung from the University of Toronto and Ryan Persaud from the University of Manitoba, are among a select group of 17- to 26-year-olds from across Canada chosen for The Sandbox Project’s inaugural Young Canadians Roundtable on Health (YCRH).


Timothy Chung
University of Toronto


Ryan Persaud
University of Manitoba

The YCRH brings together motivated young Canadians from coast-to-coast to coast in order to make real change to the health prospects of children and youth. This group will provide leadership in research, public debate and education on issues impacting the present and future health of Canadian youth, including injury prevention; mental health; growing, healthy bodies; and the environment.

Chung and Persaud both held AllerGen Summer Studentships in 2013. Timothy Chung worked with Dr. Brian Rowe at the University of Alberta on the management of acute asthma in an urban Emergency Medical Service. Under the supervision of Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj at the University of Alberta, Ryan Persaud’s research focused on the impact of perinatal infant antibiotic exposures on allergic outcomes in the Winnipeg cohort of AllerGen’s Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study.

Read more about the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health at

Dr. Douglas Barber to be inducted into Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction

Dr. Douglas Barber


Dr. Douglas Barber, a leading Canadian businessman, entrepreneur, and a founding member of the AllerGen NCE Network Board of Directors has been named to Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction. Dr. Barber co-founded Linear Technology Inc. in 1973 and developed the Burlington-based company into Gennum Corporation, a world leader in hearing aid microtechnology. Dr. Barber served as President and CEO of Gennum Corp. until his retirement in 2000.

Dr. Barber has made many significant contributions that have promoted the economic success and prosperity of the City of Hamilton, the Province of Ontario and contributed to the social and economic advancement of Canadians as a whole. He is an Honorary member of the Board of Governors and Professor-in-Residence at McMaster University, a founding member of the Hamilton Civic Coalition, a founding member of AllerGen’s Board of Directors, and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007. Dr. Barber was also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

The Hamilton Gallery of Distinction was founded in 1984 for the purpose of recognizing outstanding citizens who have made an indelible mark upon the city of Hamilton through their leadership, dedication and talent. Dr. Barber and six other distinguished community leaders will be inducted into the Gallery of Distinction in a ceremony to be held on November 12, 2013.

AllerGen trainees receive prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

Two early career researchers from the Allergy, Genes and Environment (AllerGen NCE Inc.) Network, have been named 2013 Banting Postdoctoral Fellows. The fellowships, each valued at $70,000 per year for two years, are Canada’s most prestigious awards for post-doctoral research.

Drs Meghan Azad from the University of Alberta and Jeremy Hirota from the University of British Columbia have been recognized among an elite group of researchers who have demonstrated both research excellence and leadership in their fields of study. The announcement was made on September 23, 2013, by The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology), at Université Laval.

“Drs Azad and Hirota are exceptional early career scientists that are making substantial contributions to our understanding of the genetic and environmental influences of allergy and asthma,” said Dr. Judah Denburg, Scientific Director and CEO of AllerGen NCE Inc. Read more.


Meghan Azad
University of Alberta


Jeremy Hirota
University of British Columbia

AllerGen trainee monitors pollution in ‘real time’

Natalia Mykhaylova, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering at the University of Toronto, is part of an AllerGen-funded research team that is developing an inexpensive air-quality monitoring device that could eventually be used to increase pollution monitoring across cities. By mounting the device on outdoor utility poles, placing it in homes, or even carrying a handheld version, this new technology will allow a more precise measurement of pollution levels.

The device is equipped with an array of sensors to monitor local concentrations of nitrogen oxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5) – pollutants known to contribute to the development of asthma and other chronic diseases.

Placing a network of monitors around a city would help to map the variability of air pollution across neighbourhoods and allow individuals to measure their personal exposure to pollutants in ‘real time’, according to Mykhaylova and Professor Greg Evans, an AllerGen Investigator who leads the study. This research is part of AllerGen’s Gene and Environment research platform under the subproject BEAM (Better Exposure Avoidance Measures), led by Dr. Jeff Brook. Read more.

Sweden’s Karolinska Insitutet Receives Funding for Anaphylaxis Research and Three Postdoctoral Positions

With the goal of better diagnosis and new treatments, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, an AllerGen research partner, will investigate anaphylaxis and the risk factors associated with severe allergic reactions. This new research initiative, managed by Sweden’s Centre for Allergy Research (CfA), allows the hiring of three post-doctoral fellows for a period of two years. For full details on the research initiative and how to apply for the postdoctoral positions, CLICK HERE. The deadline for applications is September 16th, 2013.

1,500 Youth Athletes to Attend International Children’s Games

AllerGen NCE will raise awareness for asthma, allergies and anaphylaxis at the 47th annual International Children’s Games, which is expected to attract over 1,500 youth athletes from around the world from August 14 to 18, 2013 in Windsor, Ontario.

The Games have attracted over 35,200 participants representing 332 cities from 74 countries over 4 continents, and is now believed to be the largest gathering of young people taking part in sport in the world.

AllerGen will partner with The Sandbox Project – a national charity devoted to improving health outcomes of Canadian children with respect to injury prevention, obesity, mental health, and the environment. The Sandbox Project will erect the world’s largest sandbox on site at the Games, bringing everyone together in the sandbox for a common cause: making Canada the healthiest place in the world for children and youth to grow up.

AllerGen and CSACI to co-host Young Allergy Professionals Networking Reception at CSACI Scientific Meeting in Toronto

AllerGen Trainee’s Research Featured in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

August 2013 (Volume 132, Issue 2)


Childhood allergic rhinitis, traffic-related air pollution, and variability in the GSTP1, TNF, TLR2, and TLR4 genes: Results from the TAG Study

Elaine Fuertes, Michael Brauer, Elaina MacIntyre, Mario Bauer, Tom Bellander, Andrea von Berg, Dietrich Berdel, Bert Brunekreef, Moira Chan-Yeung, Ulrike Gehring,, Olf Herbarth, Barbara Hoffmann,Marjan Kerkhof, Claudia Klümper,,Sibylle Koletzko, Anita Kozyrskyj, Inger Kull, Erik MelénGöran Pershagen, Dirkje Postma, Carla M.T. Tiesler, Chris Carlsten

JACI, an official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), features the latest, cutting-edge research in allergic diseases and clinical immunology. Articles cover topics on asthma, food allergy, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, primary immune deficiencies, occupational and environmental allergy, and other allergic and immunologic diseases.

AllerGen researcher, Dr. Parameswaran Nair


AllerGen researchers funded to develop paper-based biosensor

Dr. Parameswaran Nair and Dr. John Brennan of McMaster University have received a $600,000 award to develop a bioactive paper that aims to provide an inexpensive, point-of-care diagnostic tool for asthma and COPD.

The paper strip will measure the quantity of an eosinophil-specific protein secreted in sputum. Treatment strategies for asthma and COPD that are based on quantitative eosinophil cell counts provide significantly better outcomes than strategies guided by conventional assessments of symptoms and airflow.

NSERC and CIHR have provided $600,000 over a period of three years through the Collaborative Health Research Program to further Dr. Nair’s research on the biosensor.

Dr. Nair, an AllerGen Investigator, is the CIHR Canada Research Chair in Airway Inflammometry and Associate Professor of Medicine at McMaster University. Dr. Brennan is a Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and the Director of McMaster's BioInterfaces Institute.

Anaphylaxis Canada Announces Pryde Family Travel Grant

In honour of the Pryde family, and Sean Delaney, who passed away in 2007 from a severe allergic reaction, Anaphylaxis Canada has established a Travel Grant in support of food allergy research and education programs.

Two travel grants valued at $500 each will be awarded for attendance at an academic program or event related to food allergies. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in medical or graduate studies in Canada or be an allied health professional working with allergists in Canada. The deadline to apply for the award is August 31, 2013. Recipients will be selected by lottery.

Click here for further details.

AllerGen Investigators and Trainees Featured in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Twelve AllerGen researchers are featured in the July issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), July 2013 (Volume 132, Issue 1).

JACI, an official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), features the latest, cutting-edge research in allergic diseases and clinical immunology. Articles cover topics on asthma, food allergy, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, primary immune deficiencies, occupational and environmental allergy, and other allergic and immunologic diseases.

Articles by AllerGen researchers in the July issue:

  • Comparative outcomes of leukotriene receptor antagonists and long-acting β-agonists as add-on therapy in asthmatic patients: A population-based study. Click Here
    Mohsen Sadatsafavi, Larry Lynd, Carlo Marra, Pierrick Bedouch, Mark FitzGerald
  • Asthma in the real world. Click Here
    Paul M. O'Byrne
  • What is an “eosinophilic phenotype” of asthma? Click Here
    Parameswaran Nair
  • Filaggrin gene mutation associations with peanut allergy persist despite variations in peanut allergy diagnostic criteria or asthma status. Click Here
    Yuka Asai, Celia Greenwood, Peter R. Hull, Reza Alizadehfar, Moshe Ben-Shoshan, Sara J. Brown, Linda Campbell, Deborah L. Michel, Johanne Bussières, François Rousseau, T. Mary Fujiwara, Kenneth Morgan, Alan D. Irvine, W.H. Irwin McLean, Ann Clarke

CHILD Study featured in International Innovation

The groundbreaking research being conducted by Dr. Malcolm Sears and collaborators on the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study is featured in a three-page article in the April 2013 issue of International Innovation magazine.

In an engaging interview, Dr. Sears discusses his research interests and explains how CHILD explores the role and interplay of environmental and genetic factors in the development of asthma and allergy. According to Dr. Sears, preliminary CHILD Study findings reveal that by one year of age, mould is present in 40% of homes examined; more than 10 percent of children had experienced recurrent wheezing; 16 percent had positive skin