One in three Canadians is directly affected by allergic disease—nearly three million people suffer from asthma, approximately 7.5% of Canadians self-report a food allergy and an estimated 21,000 Canadians die each year due to air pollution. The associated healthcare and economic burden reaches billions of dollars each year and more research is needed, both in terms of understanding and treating these diseases.
AllerGen Inc. (AllerGen), the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network, is a national research network dedicated to improving the quality of life of people suffering from allergic and related immune diseases. Originally funded by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program, the Network is now a not-for-profit organization hosted at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON.
For its 14 years as an NCE, AllerGen united Canada’s leading experts in allergic diseases and asthma. Working in trans-disciplinary and multi-sectoral teams, and in partnership with organizations and stakeholders across sectors, AllerGen addressed gaps in knowledge and seized opportunities to generate new preventive strategies, diagnostic tests, therapeutic approaches, medications, public policies and patient education to reduce the morbidity, mortality and socio-economic impacts of allergy, asthma, anaphylaxis and related immune diseases.
AllerGen also invested in training the next generation of researchers, innovators and clinician-scientists. By assimilating students and young professionals into multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral research and clinical training environments at over 20 sites across Canada, AllerGen’s HQP (Highly Qualified Personnel) training program created value-added, capacity building opportunities that promoted knowledge acquisition, national and international networking, and the development of professional skill sets that enhance employment opportunities for graduates.