Continuing the quest to understand food allergies

Generous gift from Weiser family to allow U-M to conduct groundbreaking research

Editor’s note: James R. Baker, Jr., M.D. is the director of the U-M Food Allergy Center, which is committed to providing comprehensive care for those with food allergies and their families.

Today we are proud to announce the renaming of our center to the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center following a generous $10 million gift from the Weiser family.

The Food Allergy Center will now share a name with a remarkable woman who has tirelessly served as a champion for those with food allergies. Mary is an Ann Arbor mother of two children with severe allergies and has become a nationally recognized advocate for children globally who suffer from food allergies.  What excites me about this gift is the amazing potential it has to advance our understanding of food allergies and to advance the work Mary has led in accelerating toward better treatments.

Today, nearly eight percent of children in the U.S. have a food allergy – that’s two in every kindergarten class. The number of children facing life-threatening peanut allergies has tripled in the past decade and more children are suffering acute reactions to food at younger ages. With no cure, these children and their parents are faced with a life of avoiding allergens and relying on injectable medications to prevent reactions from becoming deadly.

This is a life Mary and her children know well. When Mary fed her young daughter a piece of egg when she was just a year old, she slumped over in her chair and began vomiting, a terrifying experience that led to learning her daughter was allergic to multiple foods. Both of Mary’s children have now been diagnosed with serve food allergies, which will require them to take extreme precautions throughout their entire lives.

This gift is part of Mary and her family’s quest to ensure that her children – and all children with allergies – are given the same opportunities as their peers. She knows first-hand the difficulties of managing allergies and the fear that accompanies the severe reactions that have sent her children to the emergency room.  Her gift is a commitment to improving not only the lives of her children but to all children who face similar circumstances.

Why gifts like this matter

I’m a firm believer in the power of financial gifts to improve human health and can say with confidence that the Weiser family’s gift will transform the lives of U-M patients, as well as the lives of the 15 million people globally who have food allergies.

Since 2007, more than 3,500 patients have been referred to the U-M clinic, many of them complex food allergies and nowhere else to turn for help. This gift will help us to expand the clinic services and ensure we are able to treat as many patients as we can, especially those facing complex diagnoses.

The funds will also be used to create a team of clinical experts and researchers who are focused on making new discoveries and developing potential treatments. Their efforts will impact those with food allergies across the world and for generations to come.

The team at the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center is profoundly grateful to the Weiser family for their support and is committed to joining Mary in her crusade to improve the lives of those with food allergies.UMHS_WeiserFoodAllergy_2015

james-bakerAbout James R. Baker, Jr., M.D.: James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., is the director of the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan Health System. He also is the Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Biologic Nanotechnology, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine, Medical School, and Biomedical Engineering, U-M College of Engineering.




HS_150x150_BLOG.fwAbout the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center: We deliver the highest quality care and most comprehensive clinical services available for food allergy patients and their families. Our board-certified allergists conduct expert evaluation, testing and diagnosis at U-M’s specialized food allergy clinic and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital facilities in Ann Arbor.