The Food Allergy Program at UVA

October 24, 2019 by

Dr. Hemler and nurse Karen Braden working in the Food Allergy Clinic.

By Dr. Jonathan Hemler

Q: Tell me about The Food Allergy Clinic. 
A: The prevalence of food allergies has increased dramatically in the past couple of decades. There are now approximately 2 children in every classroom with a food allergy diagnosis. There is also substantial morbidity associated with having a food allergy. The two main goals of the food allergy program at UVA are: to provide outstanding clinical care for patients with food allergies, and also to give patients access to cutting edge basic science research and clinical trials to help better understand and treat this disease.

Q: What makes this clinic stand out?
A: The food allergy clinic, held every Monday in the Battle Building, is designed to be a multidisciplinary service for patients with food allergies. We also provide robust access to oral food challenges which are the gold standard for food allergy diagnosis. We are often able to de-label many patients from their food allergy which can dramatically improve their quality of life.

Q: What do you feel is the most exciting part?
A: There is so much yet to be discovered in this field. Currently, there are no treatments available for food allergies other than carrying injectable epinephrine and strictly avoiding the food. However, there are several exciting new therapies in the pipeline coming out in the next few years. I am most excited about being able to not only offer patients proper diagnosis and care, but also to be a part of their journey as these new treatments come along. We will also begin to give patients and families access to clinical trials and therapies they never had access to before.

Q: What have you learned that you’d want to share with others in the department?
A: There are many myths out there surrounding food allergies. If you have any patients or friends or family members who have been told they have a food allergy, it is so important for them to have been diagnosed properly. We would love to see referrals for 1st or 2nd or even 3rd opinions to ensure all patients have a proper diagnosis and management plan.

Q: What are the next steps for you?
A: The most immediate goal for our program to join the FARE Clinical Network. FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) is the nation’s largest advocacy organization for patients with food allergies. This membership will allow us to grow our research portfolio to become the premier food allergy program in Virginia.

We also seek to develop a local/regional philanthropic giving program to further allow us to grow & develop the program so that children across the region can have access to cutting edge food allergy care and research.

To learn more about the food allergy clinic, please email Dr. Hemler.

Views from the clinic.

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