Mount Sinai scientists earn $12 million to elucidate novel causes of food allergies and atopic dermatitis

Mount Sinai researchers have been awarded $12 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health to create a center to elucidate novel causes of, and contributing factors to, food allergies and atopic dermatitis.

The Systems Biology of Early Atopy (SunBEAm) Analysis and Bioinformatics Center intends to develop a better understanding of allergy development. The center will apply systems biology to identify early-life markers of risk for food allergies and atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema), as well as biological pathways underlying these common conditions, through the profiling and analysis of longitudinal multi-omics data from a multi-center pre-birth cohort of 2,500 children.

Food allergies and atopic dermatitis are complex diseases that affect nearly 8 percent and 20 percent of children, respectively. Food allergies are frequently preceded by atopic dermatitis, suggesting shared risk factors and overlapping pathobiology.

Individuals with food allergies are at daily risk for potentially life-threatening conditions, including hives, respiratory distress, and/or anaphylaxis following ingestion of a food antigen to which they are sensitized. And for those suffering from atopic dermatitis, they live with chronically inflamed skin that can cover a significant proportion of their bodies."

Supinda Bunyavanich, MD, MPH, MPhil, Mount Sinai Professor in Allergy and Systems Biology and Principal Investigator of the Center

"This funding enables us to create a center that will make a significant impact on allergy research. A systems biology approach where the biology of these common conditions is investigated comprehensively at several levels may help identify new knowledge about the development of allergies, ultimately helping us to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and clinical management of food allergies and atopic dermatitis," said Dr. Bunyavanich.

The SunBEAm Analysis and Bioinformatics Center includes investigators from Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Northwestern, and National Jewish Health. The SunBEAm birth cohort is a collaborative effort by investigators from 12 sites across the United States who are enrolling families for participation in this cohort study that follows parents and children from before birth through the child's third birthday. SunBEAm is supported by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (grant number 1UM1AI173380-01), and spearheaded by the Consortium for Food Allergy Research.

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