McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

AllerGen joins initiative to fight allergic disease epidemic

Published: May 25, 2007
Lynton Wilson
Lynton Wilson, McMaster's Chancellor-Elect and AllerGen's Board Chair, speaks during an international video conference. McMaster was one of six sites linked for the conference.
Photo by Martin Wissenz.

AllerGen NCE Inc., the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network, is strengthening its position as a world leader in the fight against the allergic disease epidemic through a new partnership initiative that will see the Network join forces with five international organizations in the pursuit of realizing its vision to reduce the impact of allergic and related immune diseases nationally and globally.

The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program is investing $828,000 in AllerGen under the NCE's new International Partnership Initiative (IPI). The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Networks of Centres of Excellence, made the announcement during a video conference held at AllerGen's host institution, McMaster University, and École Polytechnique in Montreal.

Under this NCE initiative, AllerGen will also receive $262,000 from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to support collaborations with investigators from India.

"Canada has long been recognized internationally as a source of research excellence in allergy and asthma, which AllerGen has shaped over the past two years into a formidable, cohesive scientific team of experts," said Dr. Judah Denburg, AllerGen's scientific director and CEO, and professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster. "The International Partnership Initiative will add experts and knowledge brokers in allergy and asthma from around the world, enabling AllerGen's Canadian research team to take the lead in this mission globally."

Lynton Wilson, McMaster University's Chancellor-Elect and AllerGen's Board Chair, pointed to the NCE program as an example of the positive impact that building strong partnerships across multiple disciplines and multiple sectors has on Canadian society.

"Universities -- and the people who make up Canada's great institutions -- are the source of our country's intellectual capital," Wilson said. "That's where the talent, the ideas and our subsequent generations of great leaders come from. Our higher education system is vitally important to Canada's future prosperity."

Four representatives from three international partner organizations took part in the video conference: Dr. Nikolai Khaltaev, the Responsible Officer of Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Arthritis, Prevention and Management of Chronic Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO); Dr. Jean Bousquet, director of the WHO's Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases; Dr. Sven-Erik Dahlén, professor of Experimental Asthma and Allergy Research at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden; and Dr. Torsten Zuberbier, Secretary General of the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network.

According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and 255,000 died of the disease in 2005. In Canada, over 8 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older have asthma (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2005), creating a substantial burden on the health care system.

The NCE's International Partnership Initiative will enable collaborations between Canadian and international researchers that will lead towards the development of:

  • new policies and tools aimed at reducing allergens in the home and improving indoor air quality;
  • new drugs to treat asthma;
  • a global consensus for the definition, diagnosis and management of allergic rhinitis and asthma; and
  • new tools to improve the management of allergic disease.

AllerGen is partnering with:

  • The Global European Allergy and Asthma Network (GA2LEN) in Belgium. GA2LEN is the only other allergic disease network in the world.
  • The Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
  • World Health Organization initiatives, Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) and the Global Alliance on Respiratory Diseases (GARD) in France and Switzerland.
  • The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in France.
  • The Institute of Population Health and Clinical Research at the St. John's Research Institute in India.

AllerGen, a national research network, is funded through the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program. The Networks of Centres of Excellence Canada is a joint initiative of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Industry Canada.

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