The Steve Whitman Award

Recently, over 200 community and academic partners participated in a city-wide symposium hosted by the Chicago Consortium for Community Engagement (C3) entitled “Building Health Equity through Community Engaged Research throughout Chicago.” In the afternoon, there was a poster session featuring partnerships and research across Chicagoland. In tribute to the late Dr. Steve Whitman, renowned social epidemiologist, humanitarian, and social justice advocate, an award was given to honor his memory and work to the top poster.  We are extremely proud that our team was the first recipient of this award for our ongoing collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools ‘Empowering Students with Asthma in Chicago Schools through Photovoice and Videovoice’!  Follow this link to see our poster, which explains more about this exciting community-engaged project!

New Paper about Epinephrine in Schools


Today I'm very happy to announce that our new study "Emergency Epinephrine Use for Food Allergy Reactions in Chicago Public Schools" is garnering some publicity--including this write-up in today's Chicago Tribune.  The paper will be published on October 20th in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Following national and local legislation, CPS was the first large, urban school district in the nation to develop and implement an initiative to supply all public and charter schools in Chicago with epinephrine auto-injectors.  Our paper reports that during the 2012-2013 school year, 38 Chicago Public School (CPS) students and staff were given emergency medication for potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.  Given the significant impact of stocking emergency auto-injectors during the initiative’s first year, we feel that schools across the country should consider adopting similar policies.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • The majority of those receiving an EAI were students (92 percent) 
  • More than half didn’t know they had an allergy (55 percent) 
  • Twenty-one of the EAIs given were to treat food induced allergic reactions 
  • Among food-induced reactions, peanut was the most common followed by fin fish 
  • The trigger of more than a third of all reactions was unknown 
  • Elementary schools had the most cases of EAIs administered 
  • School nurses administered the medication the majority of the time 

Upcoming Food Allergy Wellness Summit


In a couple of weeks, I’m excited to be part of an informational FREE online event about living with FOOD ALLERGIES. Have any burning questions about food allergy, or how to manage it?  I will be on a 12 person panel at the FOOD ALLERGY WELLNESS Summit, which runs from November 3rd – 6th.  It's free to listen and there are lots of great educational sessions. Learn more at their website.

2014 FARE Walk for Food Allergy!!!

If you happened to be in Lincoln Park earlier today enjoying the fall weather, you may have stumbled upon hundreds of oddly attired folks milling around the lakefront.  If they were dressed in bright green and hanging out with a giant wolf, you probably saw our team at the 2014 FARE Walk for Food Allergy!  It was the best FARE walk yet--with a great turnout, awesome entertainment and wonderfully crisp sunny weather.  I want to thank all of the many friends, family and members of my research team that spent the afternoon with me.  It was not only a ton of fun, but it helped to raise funds and remind us all why childhood food allergy is such an important cause!
 

Recruiting Participants for a new study!


Dear readers and fellow food allergy advocates,

A research study entitled “Risk Taking Behavior among Adolescents with Food Allergy” is currently enrolling participants.  The goal of this study is to learn more about the risk taking behaviors of food allergic adolescents – both in regard to general risk taking and risk taking as it relates to food allergy.  In order to participate in the study, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 22 years who currently have a food allergy are being asked to complete an entirely anonymous and confidential electronic survey.  No protected health or identifying information is being collected.  No compensation is being offered in exchange for study participation.

I, Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, am personally conducting the study.  All aspects of this research study have been approved by the Northwestern Institutional Review Board, IRB STU00097291.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 22 and are interested in participating in this study, please click on this secure link to access the anonymous and confidential survey [https://redcap.nubic.northwestern.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=TcT8XLeZeA].

If you are a parent with a food allergic child between the ages of 14 and 17 and have no objections to your adolescent child participating in this study, please forward him/her this link [https://redcap.nubic.northwestern.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=TcT8XLeZeA].  The link will take him/her to the completely anonymous and confidential survey.

If you would prefer for your child not to participate, no further action is required.

If you have any questions prior to making your decision, please contact Research Project Coordinator Victoria Rivkina at 312-503-3193 orvictoria.rivkina@northwestern.edu or myself at 312-503-5581 or r-gupta@northwestern.edu.


FARE's Emergency Anaphylaxis Management Summit

Recently, I was invited to participate in a summit held by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) which sought to assess and improve the understanding and treatment of anaphylaxis by emergency medicine professionals.  These folks include first-line responders such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), emergency medicine doctors, and paramedics.  This summit, which was held here in Chicago earlier this month was an amazing opportunity to meet with experts, friends, and colleagues from all over the country who are passionate about ensuring that individuals experiencing serious allergic reactions receive the best emergency care from medical professionals. Moreover, we want to ensure that these medical professionals are equipped with the best, most up-to-date information to treat anaphylaxis.  By the end of the summit, we developed the following set of action items, which comprise an agenda we will continue to pursue now that the summit is over.  These important action items include:

1) Creating a common description of anaphylaxis that may be used by healthcare professionals and patients for prompt and accurate diagnosis and treatment of anaphylaxis (including atypical presentations and biphasic reactions),
2) Facilitating partnerships with organizations representing the continuum of emergency care in order to improve recognition, treatment and long-term management of anaphylaxis,
3) Increasing usage of epinephrine, improving awareness of its first-line use in the management of anaphylaxis, and dispelling fears about contraindications and side effects,
4)Working with policymakers at every level to allow all EMTs to carry and administer stock epinephrine
5) Improving emergency department discharge protocols so that patients, particularly those with first-time reactions, are better informed about how to manage the ongoing risk of severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Results of a recent FARE survey showed less than a quarter of respondents were given information about food allergies, referral to an allergist or a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector upon discharge from the emergency department.

New study published in Pediatrics!




Today I'm pleased to announce the publication of a new study that we've been working on for a number of years.  It deals with the important issue of "action plans", which are health management plans that specify exactly what should be done in case of an asthma or food allergy-related emergency.  Establishing an emergency action plan is an important component of managing both food allergy and asthma, and is something that all kids with these conditions should have on file with their school--just in case.  However, our study found that half of CPS students with food allergy and a quarter of student with asthma do not have an emergency action plan on file with their school.  Moreover low-income and minority students are less likely than their more affluent, White peers to have established a health management plan with their school.  Therefore, the next phase of this research will determine the most effective ways to reach out to families of these students and facilitate the establishment of up-to-date management plans with their respective schools.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Upcoming Conference and Travel Schedule


Happy September!  So sorry for the long delay since my last post.  It's been a busy summer--so much to share! Speaking of which, here's a list of some particularly important upcoming conferences that I'll be attending in the next couple of months.  Hope to see you soon!

Attending: 9/4-9/6 Emergency Management of Anaphylaxis Summit, Chicago, IL
Speaking: 9/12 Allergy and Asthma Network US Anaphylaxis Summit 2014, Anaheim, CA
Speaking: 9/13 Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team Annual Food Allergy Conference Anaheim, CA
Speaking: 9/19 Allergy and Asthma Network US Anaphylaxis Summit 2014, Atlanta, GA
Speaking: 9/26-9/28 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference Las Vegas, NV
Speaking: 10/2 Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis in Schools, Kalamazoo, MI
Speaking: 10/3 Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Conference for Practicing Providers, Kalamazoo, MI
Speaking: 10/10 Allergy and Asthma Network US Anaphylaxis Summit 2014, Denver, CO
Speaking: 10/17 Allergy and Asthma Network US Anaphylaxis Summit 2014 , Philadelphia, PA
Speaking: 10/24-10/25 Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team Annual Teen Conference, Chicago, IL

Businesses making a difference: POSoncloud


I just wanted to give a shout out to great companies like POSoncloud (www.posoncloud.com).  They have not only developed a tool for restaurants to improve their service but they also make restaurants very allergen aware!  Their tool will allow waiters to have allergen details on their fingertips at the time of ordering.  On a recent trip to my hometown, Louisville, KY,  I met the CEO and co-founder Sunny Dronawat, who showed me the system and highlighted features that can help restaurants, hospital and school cafeterias avoid accidental ingestions and allergic reactions.  

This can help both on the side of ordering but sends the message to the kitchen staff so their are multiple checks to keep us safe.  We need more companies like this that help support protecting children and adults with food allergy.  


Photos from the Epinephrine Bill Signing!

Since I promised you a picture last week, here's a photo of my wonderful team and IL State Attorney General, Lisa Madigan!  We had the opportunity to meet her after Governor Quinn signed the emergency epinephrine bill I mentioned last week.  This bill increases access to emergency epinephrine in schools and marks an important step toward ensuring the health and well-being of our kids.

Food Allergy Study Participants Needed


We are currently recruiting participants for a study entitled “Risk-Taking Behavior among Adolescents with Food Allergy”. The goal of this study is to learn more about the risk-taking behaviors of adolescents with food allergies – both in regard to general risk-taking and risk-taking as it relates to food allergy. 

In order to participate in the study, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 22 years who currently have a food allergy are being asked to complete an anonymous and confidential electronic survey. No protected health or identifying information is being collected. No compensation is being offered in exchange for study participation. This study is being conducted by myself, Dr. Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. All aspects of this research study have been approved by the Northwestern Institutional Review Board, IRB STU00097291. 

If you are between the ages of 18 and 22 and are interested in participating in this study, please click on this secure link to access the survey. If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy between the ages of 14 and 17 and have no objections to your adolescent child participating in this study, please forward him/her this link

If you have any questions, please contact Research Project Coordinator Victoria Rivkina at victoria.rivkina@northwestern.edu or 312-503-3193 or Principal Investigator Dr. Ruchi Gupta at                                       r-gupta@northwestern.edu or 312-503-3193.

Governer Quinn to sign Epi bill


I'm pleased to announce that this Wednesday Governor Quinn will be signing a bill into law, for which food allergy advocates like myself have been tirelessly advocating.  The new law will expand Illinois' existing stock epinephrine law by permitting people besides nurses to administer epinephrine to children having an allergic reaction.  This is important because many schools lack full-time nurses, who previously were the only personnel authorized to administer epinephrine to students suspected of having a severe allergic reaction. Importantly, the new law also stipulates training requirements for school staff and provides a mechanism to report stock epinephrine use to a centralized database.  

I'm going to be attending a formal bill-signing event with Governor Quinn this Wednesday and hopefully I'll be able to take some pictures.  Regardless, I want to say thanks to everybody out there advocating for children with food allergy--whether it be via your emails, phone calls, or private conversations--every bit makes a difference.  

Also, the entire text of the bill is found here, and it's surprisingly easy to read (for a legal document), so take a look if you're interested.        

Joining FARE's Medical Advisory Board

I'm excited to announce that this past week,  I officially joined FARE's Medical Advisory Board, along with its Education Working Group!  If you're interested in reading more, the full press release is below.  To celebrate the occasion I'm posting a better picture of my family posing with NFL star Adrian Peterson at the recent FARE National Food Allergy Conference :)   

__________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Food Allergy Research & Education Welcomes Dr. Ruchi Gupta to 
Medical Advisory Board, Education Working Group

McLean, Va. (July 17, 2014) – Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to food allergy, announced Thursday that Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., a researcher, pediatrician and professor, has been elected to its highly regarded Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Gupta has also joined FARE’s Education Working Group. 

Dr. Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Maternal and Child Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, speaks nationally and internationally on the topic of food allergy. Dr. Gupta is also a founding member of the Northwestern Food Allergy Research Consortium. Her research and clinical interests include childhood food allergy and childhood asthma. Dr. Gupta has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has obtained grant support through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), FARE, the National Children's Study and the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Physician Faculty Scholars award. Of particular note, Dr. Gupta was the lead author of the FARE-funded 2011 landmark study published by the journal Pediatrics on childhood food allergy prevalence in the U.S. More recently, she and her team published an economic impact study published in JAMA Pediatrics and funded by FARE, which concluded that caring for children with food allergies costs U.S. families $24.8 billion annually. 

Dr. Gupta is the pediatric attending at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and is the mother of a child with food allergies. Her key interest is in working to improve the state of childhood food allergy in the U.S. – specifically in the areas of economics, physician and school management, improving diagnostic tests and treatments and quality of life. She is also the author of the book, “The Food Allergy Experience.”

“Having dedicated much of my work to the area of food allergy, I am honored to work more closely with the nation’s leading food allergy nonprofit as a member of the Medical Advisory Board and the Education Working Group,” Dr. Gupta said. “As a mother of a child with food allergies, educating the public about this potentially life-threatening disease is a topic I am passionate about, and I look forward to working together with FARE in its mission to make the world safe for those with food allergies.”

Gupta joins FARE’s 12-member Medical Advisory Board, comprising the nation’s leading food allergy experts, and FARE’s 10-member Education Working Group, a multidisciplinary committee tasked with helping guide FARE’s education initiatives and materials.

“We are pleased to welcome Ruchi to FARE’s Medical Advisory Board and Education Working Group,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “As a researcher and the parent of a child with food allergies, she brings a unique perspective to her role on these committees. We have collaborated with Ruchi for several years, and she is well known to many in the food allergy community already. She will be a tremendous asset and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the years ahead.”


ABOUT FARE

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. – or roughly two in every classroom. FARE’s mission is to find a cure for food allergies, and to keep individuals safe and included. We do this by investing in world-class research that advances treatment and understanding of the disease, providing evidence-based education and resources, undertaking advocacy at all levels of government and increasing awareness of food allergy as a serious public health issue. For more information, please visit www.foodallergy.org and find us on Twitter @FoodAllergyFacebookYouTube and Pinterest.





The Beasley SMART Program

This past spring, Team Ruchi implemented an innovative school-based asthma management program called SMART, which stands for Student Media-based Asthma Research Team.  In this implementation of SMART, members of Team Ruchi went out to Chicago’s Southside and worked alongside 7th and 8th grade students at Beasley Academic Center.   The goal of the SMART program was to put mobile devices into the hands of adolescents with asthma to have them investigate and ultimately improve their own asthma symptoms.

As a class, the students formed two groups to develop Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to educate their community about asthma.  One PSA featured an original superhero, Inhaler Man, to help convey the message about taking one’s inhaler and avoiding triggers.  The other PSA featured important asthma facts that the students felt everyone should know.  The program culminated with an assembly to all 7th and 8th grade students at Beasley Academic Center and during this assembly the PSAs were shown and a questionnaire was given to show how effective the PSAs were.  It was so much fun to work with the students at Beasley Academic Center, they had so much enthusiasm and really taught us some things about asthma and life along the way!

The students also helped to develop their own website to showcase their PSAs and their photos of asthma triggers.  You can check it out by clicking on this link:


The recent FARE conference

Recently, team Ruchi attended and presented at the first FARE National Food Allergy Conference. In addition to speaking to food allergy community leaders at the Leadership Summit and presenting on barriers to food allergy reporting in Chicago Public Schools, our team also launched an adolescent risk taking study for 14-22 year olds with food allergies. The launch was quite successful, with more than 20 teens completing our anonymous and confidential survey on site!

If you have a food allergic adolescent child and would like him/her to participate in the study, please be on the lookout for further information from FARE. It was a pleasure to see numerous friends, colleagues, and all the dedicated members of the food allergy community members at last month’s FARE conference! We look forward to staying in touch and working with all of you!

The Melchiorre Family FA Research Consortium

If you're not already aware--with the support from the amazing Melchiorre family--fellow food allergy researchers Paul Bryce PhD, Anne Marie Singh MD, and I recently formed The Melchiorre Family Food Allergy Consortium at Northwestern Medicine.  The goal of our consortium is to advance the field of food allergy research in three important arenas: Dr. Bryce's work focuses on isolating the specific biological pathways that underlie childhood food allergy--including the mapping of genetic mechanisms.  Dr. Singh's work will focus on improving the clinical management of food allergy and the development of clinical trials, informed by basic science.  Finally, my work will focus on the epidemiology of food allergy and other population health aspects of food allergy, including patient education and evaluation of public health campaigns relating to food allergy.

For more information about The Melchiorre Family Food Allergy Research Consortium at Northwestern Medicine, take a look at this recent article.

NU expands nut-free sports!

As both a college sports fan and food allergy researcher, I'm quite happy to announce that Northwestern is doubling down on their efforts to be more inclusive for families with nut allergies! After a wildly successful peanut-free day last year, the Wildcats are expanding this year's peanut-free game schedule to include their first three home football games, ten men's and six women's basketball contests, all 18 home volleyball matches and three wrestling events!  Before each game they will power-wash and take additional precautions to remove nut residue from the arena.  Obviously no nuts will be sold or permitted in the arena either.  Personally, I'm so glad that more and more teams like the Wildcats are taking steps to accommodate their fans' allergies so that EVERYONE can come out and have a fun, safe time at the game!  But remember, progress like this only comes when food allergy advocates speak up and educate others about food allergies--so keep up the good work everyone!  

EAACI: Conference Update


This weekend I will be traveling to Copenhagen to attend the 2014 annual meeting of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which will last until June 11.  On Monday, I will be giving a talk entitled Cost-Effective Allergy Management: How to survive and thrive.  Here’s a short summary of my presentation:

Coping with food allergies is a major burden for allergic consumers, for their families, and for the economy as a whole.  Until recently the size of this burden was not known.  Dr. Gupta will present the latest information on research that measured the economic and quality of life burden of food allergy in the US.  In addition, Dr. Gupta will discuss cost-effective options for food allergy management.  This presentation will give the audience important information to help understand the costs associated with food allergy and provide economically prudent tips for the food allergic consumer. —  


  

2014 National Food Allergy Conference

In less than 1 month, FARE's annual National Food Allergy Conference will begin!  As always, this year's conference provides a fabulous opportunity to learn lots about the latest advances in food allergy research as well as discover new tips for managing food allergies.  Perhaps most importantly, the conference provides a chance to meet similarly minded food allergy experts and advocates from across the country.  

I will personally be speaking on Saturday June 21 about our recent "Improving Food Allergy Verification and Medication Access in Chicago Public Schools" study, which aims to understand the barriers that parents face in reporting their children’s food allergies to CPS schools. This session will help parents with students in CPS schools who have food allergies learn more about this initiative, increase communication with their schools, and provide more education and resources.  

Take a look at the interactive conference schedule to find out about more great talks and workshops.