What is the mission of the food allergy fund?
We want to get to the bottom of what is causing this epidemic. The goal of the Food Allergy Fund is to accelerate research funding as quickly as possible to focus on the most underfunded area, which is the underlying cause of food allergies.
Was there a specific moment when you realized the prevalence of food allergies?
My daughter, Emma, has multiple food allergies. At her second birthday party earlier this year we had 16 kids—a random sample of children of our friends, and 6 out of the 16 have life threatening food allergies. That is just one anecdote and obviously, statistically above average, but I think clearly shows the direction we are headed if we don’t do something about it.
Tell us about your campaign to flip food allergies on its head.
In looking at what moves the needle for fundraising we looked at successful models such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and Stand Up 2 Cancer—we want to raise awareness and also funds for the cause so we are turning food allergies on its head.
I have a lot of cancer in my family and was very familiar with non-profits in the cancer world that have greatly accelerated research funding and that was my inspiration. I started to think about how I could apply those models and my professional background to the food allergy community.
July 4th is the perfect day as everyone is spending time with their family and friends. Pou can post a photo of you, your family and friends doing headstands on social media, tag 3 of your friends and use #thisisnuts and @foodallergyfund. Bringing about awareness and understanding will lead to inclusiveness as more people are comfortable with how to keep people safe.
What is the driving force behind Food Allergy Fund?
The bottom line is there just isn’t enough funding raised for food allergies and money is what moves the needle in terms of research. I think it is fair to say that while other diseases are getting north of $500 million annually in research dollars, food allergies are getting a fraction of that.
Our goal is to grow the pie and increase the amount of money flowing to food allergy research. We are solely focused on fundraising, funds will be used to support groups that are conducting research that look at the underlying cause of food allergies and improved treatments.
Not only are you impressive but so is your scientific board, tell us about it.
Our scientific advisory board is made up of 12 leading physicians and scientists. Not only are they from leading institutions like Harvard, Columbia, MIT, Yale, Stanford but they also represent a truly multi-disciplinary perspective which will encourage collaboration to address this problem. We have clinicians, microbiologists, immunologists, chemical engineers, psychologists, and others, who are the top of their field to tackle every angle of the disease and collectively come up with what is really going to move the needle as quickly as possible.
Why should people donate to the Food Allergy Fund?
100% of public donations are going to research. It is not going to anything other than funding research to get to the root of the problem. It is an entirely volunteer staffed organization. You can support the Food Allergy Fund by donating here, every dollar helps.
What is your favorite feature on Spokin?
I really like the peer based recommendation element of it. I have found the product component really helpful and peer to peer reviews are helpful for discovering something new. The idea that other parents or other people in the food allergy community are vetting this for me puts my mind at ease when I’m traveling or even right in my backyard when I might not know of resources that exist.
You’ve taught us so much, now tell us some of your favorites.
Dog Tag Bakery – Nut-free and run by military vets. Proceeds go to support veterans. They can make sesame free items on request.
Il Canale – Has the only Neopolitan Pizza oven in DC, they use dedicated equipment when they go in and she loves watching it being made.
You recently moved from NYC to DC, have you noticed a difference in awareness?
We have lived in NYC and Washington DC and have had very different food allergy experiences in each city which really underscores the need for a national conversation and broad based awareness. You can go from one major city to another and have a very different experience.