Cincinnati Children’s becomes the only NIH-funded clinical research center for food allergy in the region

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Cincinnati Children’s has been awarded a grant through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to join the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) as a clinical research center. The grant, which totals $380,000 each year for seven years plus additional funding for clinical trials, positions Cincinnati Children’s as the only NIH-funded clinical research center for food allergy in all of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and one of only 10 centers in the United States.

“Previous CoFAR phases have led to important advancements, including the first medication for food allergies, which was approved in February of 2024. We are looking to make similar breakthroughs in this phase,” Amal Assa’ad, MD, associate director of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s and principal investigator on the grant, said. “It is an incredible honor to be awarded this grant and to join these prestigious institutions as a clinical research center in CoFAR.”

The coveted grant was awarded at the beginning of March 2024 following a compelling proposal by Cincinnati Children’s to add its expertise in food allergy research, including the expertise of a large team of researchers, the research infrastructure of Cincinnati Children’s, and its diverse patient population, to CoFAR. Over the next seven years, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Allergy and Immunology will take part in several research projects within the consortium. Studies proposed include a network-wide, multicenter clinical trial focused on maintaining acquired tolerance to food allergens after oral immunotherapy, and a center-specific research project on contributions of environmental factors to the development of food allergies.

“Providing new therapies and better understanding of food allergies is at the heart of our work through CoFAR,” Assa’ad said. “The trials that we conduct over the next seven years will benefit the world and our patients at Cincinnati Children’s who will be able to take part in them. We cannot wait to get started.”

CoFAR was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2005 as a collaborative research program bringing together centers focused on the study of food allergy. The goal of the consortium, and the CoFAR clinical research centers like Cincinnati Children’s that make it up, is to advance prevention, management strategies, and improve knowledge on the origins of food allergies.

Though this marks the first time Cincinnati Children’s has been included as a CoFAR clinical research center, the health system has been involved in past CoFAR initiatives. Marc Rothenberg, MD, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology and co-principal investigator on the grant, previously created a registry of patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), conducted successful genetic studies, and reported on manifestations of EoE across the consortium’s sites.

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Bo McMillan