Monday, December 15, 2014

Why YOU should participate in a food allergy research study (Northwestern University currently seeking participants)

Research scientists must continually pitch their ideas.  Scientists “pitch” a funding agency when they write a grant – an elaborate document of their proposed studies, often including significant preliminary data to convince grant reviewers that their ideas are “going to work.” Writing grants is an essential part of a scientist’s job because without the money supplied by grants, research grinds to a halt (even for a university researcher!). And if that isn’t challenging enough, the scientists performing studies with human subjects must “pitch” their ideas to recruit a sufficient number of study participants to acquire enough data to draw trustworthy conclusions. It is true – the job of a scientist is part salesperson!

So here’s my pitch to all of you.

Share this post with as many people as you know because:
  1. It will help a great group of food allergy researchers at Northwestern University recruit participants to better understand a concerning problem for food allergies – what makes adolescents/young adults (14-22 year olds) more at risk from their food allergic reactions.
  2. Participating is easy – it is a short survey that can be accessed by internet (i.e. you don’t have to drive to Chicago to participate!).
  3. Answering the study questions will undoubtedly spin off many more questions that will help fund future grants, thus driving our understanding of this problem forward and ultimately improving the lives of those affected by food allergies.

I am including the details of the study with appropriate links below. If you’re already “sold” on sharing this widely or even participating, great! Scroll down to the section - STUDY OVERVIEW - to read the details provided directly by Dr. Ruchi Gupta’s team at Northwestern. If you need a little more “evidence,” I’ve got that, too. Read on.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta and her team with Illinois state Attorney General Lisa Madigan this past July. Dr. Gupta and her team helped advocate for a new law to expand Illinois' existing stock epinephrine for schools law.

Why I strongly support Dr. Gupta’s research group:

Any food allergy researcher who “pitches” their work to a funding agency, whether it is the federal government, a non-profit organization, or private investors must convince reviewers that food allergies are in fact a significant problem. Dr. Gupta’s group is behind many very solid studies that other researchers cite in their grant proposals to do just that – convince reviewers that yes, food allergies are in fact a large problem. Her group recently defined how prevalent food allergies are among U.S. children (1 in 13 children under 18 years of age)1 and just how enormous the economic burden of food allergies truly is on the U.S. economy (estimated at nearly $25 billion annually).2

I have no doubt that the outcome of the current study will serve as a research catalyst for herself and other researchers - a prominent citation in a grant proposal to justify further research funding to define why adolescents/young adults are more at risk of fatal anaphylaxis from their allergic reactions.3,4,5 While this is tragically a recognized problem, researchers still don’t fully understand why. Is it part psychology (e.g. teenagers/young adults tend to take more risks in general)?  Is it part biology (e.g. something about the biology of this age group drives stronger reactions)? Or is it some combination of both? Her work just may start to tease out the evidence to address those very questions in the future. If we understand the problem, we can design strategies to mitigate them.

Dr. Gupta “gets it.” As a mother to a child with food allergies herself, her work is not only driven by her scientific integrity, but also a very personal drive to make a difference in the lives of all who are touched by food allergies. The scientific questions she asks truly come from a deep understanding of food allergies. In addition to her busy job, Dr. Gupta lends her voice as a prominent researcher to advocate for and support the larger allergy community as a whole. She has written a book, The Food Allergy Experience, and regularly updates her blog, chronicling the many events where she has given back to the allergy community in very powerful ways.

Please help Dr. Gupta’s research group help all of us! Participate. Make a difference.


Researchers at Northwestern Medicine are conducting a research study entitled “Risk Taking Behavior among Adolescents with Food Allergy," which 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. 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 [].

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 [].  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 feel free to contact me directly at, or Dr. Gupta at


1.           Gupta RS, Springston EE, Warrier MR, et al. The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011;128(1):e9-e17. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0204.
2.           Gupta R, Holdford D, Bilaver L, Dyer A, Holl JL, Meltzer D. The economic impact of childhood food allergy in the United States. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(11):1026-1031. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2376.
3.           Bock SA, Muñoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA. Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001;107(1):191-193. doi:10.1067/mai.2001.112031.
4.           Pumphrey R. Anaphylaxis: can we tell who is at risk of a fatal reaction? Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;4(4):285-290. doi:10.1097/01.all.0000136762.89313.0b.
5.           Sampson HA, Mendelson L, Rosen JP. Fatal and near-fatal anaphylactic reactions to food in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med. 1992;327(6):380-384. doi:10.1056/NEJM199208063270603.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. My son just had his first exposure to allergies last week and he was very scared. He was at a friends house eating food that he usually doesn't have any exposure to and he had an allergic reaction. We had to take him to an allergy treatment facility to get some shots. Hopefully we will be able to prevent any future situations like this.

    1. Wally - allergies are so scary. I hope you are able to find a good allergist that can help ease you and your son into life with allergies. I'm so happy to hear that your son is ok! Take care.

  3. I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I would love to participate in that but i am quite busy in searching essay editing service Uk and do not have time because there some more academic works which i have to complete within a time period.