20th Anniversary Food Allergy Ball Honorees (Part 1)

The 20th Anniversary Food Allergy Ball will be held Monday, December 4 in New York City at the Pierre Hotel. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of this event, the evening will honor “20 for 20,” a special tribute to the pioneers who have made a lasting impact in the food allergy community and have contributed to 20 years of progress in food allergy action, research, education and advocacy. In addition, we will honor distinguished food allergy advocates for their commitment to our cause. In part one of this blog, we’ll highlight three award recipients as well as the researchers who are part of our “20 for 20.”  


Founder’s Award Recipient

Sharyn T. Mann

This year, it is with great appreciation that we present the Founders Award to Sharyn T. Mann for her service to the FARE Board of Directors.

Sharyn Mann, who has a daughter with food allergies, was one of the Founders of the Food Allergy Initiative, one of FARE’s legacy organizations, and is a longtime member of the FARE Board of Directors. She was involved with the organization’s advocacy efforts that resulted in the passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act and also played a role in raising awareness of food allergies in New York restaurants.  

In addition to the work that she has done on behalf of the food allergy community, she has served on the Boards of the Elie Wiesel Foundation, American Friends of Allyn Hospital, Circle in the Square Theater, American Friends of Soviet Jewry, and the American Film Institute. She served as Concert Chairman for The Soviet Emigre Orchestra, and is a patron of the NYC ballet.

She has chaired or co-chaired numerous charitable events, including the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, and City Meals on Wheels. She chaired the first 19 dinners for FAI and FARE.


Corporate Dinner Honoree

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

The Corporate Dinner Honoree demonstrates progressive efforts in making accommodations for guests with food allergies. We are pleased to present the award this year to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

In 1955, Disneyland Resort first opened its gates in Anaheim, California, with Walt Disney’s words, “To all who come to this happy place, welcome.” Members of the food allergy community have long felt welcome at Disney properties due to the fact that the company has gone above and beyond in their commitment to serving guests with food allergies. In line with its commitment to making a positive community impact, The Walt Disney Company donated over $400 million to nonprofit organizations in 2016, and Disney VoluntEARS have contributed 2.9 million hours of service since 2012. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is an industry leader in providing choices and options to guests with food allergies and special diets, serving over 700,000 such meals per year in domestic park and resorts alone, providing allergy-friendly menus at many dining locations, and making notation of special diet requests easy and accessible.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Masson

Each year at the Food Allergy Ball, we honor an outstanding chef or restaurateur who has demonstrated their commitment to excellence and compassion for the food allergy community by training their staff to be food allergy aware. This year, FARE is proud to celebrate the achievements of Charles Masson.

Visionary restaurateur and creator Charles Masson has had a multifaceted career in the culinary and art worlds. Born in New York City, he held apprenticeships at Villars Palace in Villars sur Olon, Switzerland, Ritorante Lidio in Zaragoza, Spain, and Lenôtre in Parly 2, Le Chesnay, France. Now at Majorelle, Masson has been a guest speaker at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Horticultural Society of New York, lectures at Mount Desert Island Botanical Club, and had a televised segment on food and flowers on the Martha Stewart Show.

He won the James Beard Foundation Award in 2012 for Outstanding Service at La Grenouille. Since he left La Grenouille in 2014, Masson launched Baccarat Hotel and Residences and Restaurant Chevalier. He has created and is currently running the show at Majorelle Restaurant at The Lowell Hotel, which shows an exemplary commitment to serving diners with food allergies.


Guests of Honor

Individuals and Organizations That Have Contributed to 20 Years of Progress in Food Allergy Action, Research, Education and Advocacy

Janet Atwater | Becky Basalone | Pierre-Henri Benhamou, MD | Dave Bunning | Denise Bunning | A. Wesley Burks, MD | Ruchi Gupta, MD | Judith and John Hannan | The Jaffe Family | Stacie Jones, MD | Gideon Lack, MB, BCh | Rebecca and Sacha Lainovic | Lianne Mandelbaum | Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD | Drew Nieporent | Hugh Sampson, MD | Scott Sicherer, MD | Judy and Todd Slotkin | Gwen Smith and Peter Wilmshurst | Joel Warady


The Researchers

Pierre-Henri Benhamou, MD, DBV Technologies

Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou is a pediatrician turned biotech entrepreneur who has devoted his career to caring for patients and finding potential food allergy treatments.  Given his background as a pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Benhamou has first-hand experience in managing patients with severe food allergies, and understands the great burden that patients, caregivers and clinicians face daily in battling this disease.

In 2002, Dr. Benhamou co-founded DBV Technologies (DBV), a company dedicated to transforming the care of food-allergic patients. Today, he serves as DBV’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

In collaboration with Dr. Christophe Dupont and Bertrand Dupont, Dr. Benhamou led the development and patenting of EPIT®, or epicutaneous immunotherapy, DBV’s proprietary method of food allergy immunotherapy. EPIT aims to deliver biologically active compounds to the immune system through intact skin using the Viaskin® platform, an electrostatic patch currently in clinical and preclinical development for the treatment of peanut, milk and egg allergies. Under Dr. Benhamou’s leadership, DBV is pioneering this potential treatment option to help improve the lives of patients suffering from food allergies. DBV’s robust development program includes a Phase III trial for Viaskin® Peanut in the treatment of peanut-allergic children, which has obtained Fast Track designation and Breakthrough Therapy designation in children from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


A. Wesley Burks, MD

Dr. A. Wesley Burks is Executive Dean for the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. In this role, he leads the academic mission in research and education for the School. He also holds the Curnen Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Burks joined the UNC system in November 2011 and is now part of the senior leadership team for the UNC Health Care System.

Dr. Burks heads a research team whose work centers on a better understanding of the basis of allergic disease and the development of treatment for food allergy. He and his colleagues identified the proteins in peanuts responsible for the allergic reaction and are leaders in the worldwide effort to develop treatment for food allergy, specifically peanut allergy. They have multiple clinical studies involving several hundred patients, looking at different types of mucosal immunotherapy. Dr. Burks has been published in many distinguished journals and has authored or coauthored several hundred articles, chapters and abstracts. He is a past President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and a past Chair of the NIH Hypersensitivity, Autoimmune, and Immune‐mediated Diseases study section.


Ruchi Gupta, MD

Dr. Ruchi Gupta is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Northwestern Medicine and has more than 15 years of experience as a board-certified pediatrician and health researcher. Dr. Gupta is the director of SOAAR (Science and Outcomes of Asthma and food Allergy Research), she is the leader of the Program on Maternal and Child Health, and is a co-founder of the Food Allergy Research Consortium at Northwestern Medicine. Dr. Gupta has been a faculty member at Northwestern Medicine since 2004 and a clinical attending at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago where she is actively involved in clinical, epidemiological, and community research.

Dr. Gupta is nationally recognized for her groundbreaking research in the area of food allergy and asthma epidemiology; specifically her research on childhood food allergy prevalence. She has also significantly contributed to academic research surrounding economic costs, pediatric management of food allergy and asthma, ED visits and hospitalizations, quality of life and community interventions, especially in schools.  She is also the author of the book The Food Allergy Experience. Dr. Gupta has over 80 peer-reviewed publications and her work has been featured in major TV networks and print media.


Stacie Jones, MD

Dr. Stacie Jones  is Professor and Chief of Allergy and Immunology and Interim Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH).  Dr. Jones holds the Dr. and Mrs. Leeman H. King Endowed Chair in Pediatric Allergy.  She is a board-certified Specialist in Pediatrics and Allergy and Immunology, and currently serves as Director of the Food Allergy Program and Co-Director of the Lung Cell Biology Laboratory at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI). 

Dr. Jones’ research focuses on both clinical and translational investigation of food allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis and asthma.  She is the lead investigator at ACRI for the both the NIH-funded Consortium for Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) and the NIH-funded Immune Tolerance Network IMPACT Trial and is involved in multiple food allergy therapeutic trials through an active collaborative research network.  Dr. Jones also has a long-standing research interest in mechanisms of airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma, and, along with her collaborators, is actively investigating these questions in human tissue platforms. 


Gideon Lack, MB, BChR. 

Dr. Gideon Lack is Professor of Paediatric Allergy at King’s College London and Head of the Academic Paediatric Allergy Service at Guy’s & St. Thomas’. His research focuses on peanut allergy and strategies to prevent food allergies through oral tolerance induction. The LEAP study showed that early consumption of peanuts in atopic infants reduces the development of peanut allergy by >80 percent. He is investigating whether oral tolerance induction is long-lasting in the absence of peanut consumption and if early consumption of other food allergens induces tolerance. His research suggests that allergic sensitization to food occurs through an impaired skin barrier and focuses on mechanisms of cutaneous sensitization and oral tolerance.


Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD

Dr. Kari Nadeau is the Naddisy Foundation Endowed Professor of Pediatric Food Allergy, Immunology, and Asthma at Stanford University. She is the director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research and the FARE Center of Excellence at Stanford University. 

For more than 30 years, she has devoted herself to understanding how environmental and genetic factors affect the risk of developing allergies and asthma, and the molecular mechanisms underlying the diseases. Her diverse team of specialists — in areas from immunology to chemical engineering — was the first to show that high dimensional immunophenotyping of T cells involved in allergy could be used in therapies for patients. Her team also showed that blocking antibodies in conjunction with allergen immunotherapy produced desensitization even in patients with up to five food allergens. She has overseen more than 40 clinical trials and enrolled more than 2,000 patients in allergy studies. Her work has changed the lives of many who, for the first time in their lives, are able to control life-threatening food allergies.


Hugh Sampson, MD

Dr. Hugh Sampson has over 35 years’ experience in translational research focusing on food allergic disorders and basic immunologic mechanisms responsible for these disorders. His research has been funded continuously by a number of grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, including being the Principal Investigator for the Consortium for Food Allergy Research.  He has published over 470 articles, 90 book chapters and co-edited 7 books, primarily on clinical and immunopathogenic aspects of food allergic disorders, and chaired working groups that produced standardized criteria for diagnosing anaphylaxis, the Practall guidelines for conducting double-blind placebo-controlled oral food challenges, and the most recent Joint Council Practice Parameters on Food Allergy. Some of Dr. Sampson’s accomplishments in research include being the first to describe food allergy as a trigger for eosinophilic esophagitis, to use foods under an IND in oral immunotherapy trials, the ability of most milk-allergic children to tolerate heat-denatured (baked) milk products, and among the first to clearly delineate the relationship of atopic dermatitis and food allergy. He also co-developed novel approaches to therapy including Traditional Chinese medicine and mutated proteins with adjuvant. His laboratory also identified factors to improve food allergy diagnostics, such as the correlation between quantitative IgE levels and probability of allergic reactivity, and analysis of allergenic component proteins and epitopes in predicting the natural history and severity of food allergies. Dr. Sampson was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academies in 2003 for his research accomplishments and Thompson Reuters has recognized Dr. Sampson as among the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for the past several years, a distinction indicating the top 1% of researchers with the most cited documents in their specific field.

Dr. Sampson is past chair of the Section on Allergy & Immunology of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the past-president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and his presidential initiative during his tenure led to the NIAID Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy. He has served on the Editorial Board of five allergy journals, including 20 years on the JACI Editorial Board, as past Chair of the Medical Advisory Board for FAAN/FARE for 25 years, and as a Director on the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Sampson has proudly mentored over 35 post-doctoral allergy/immunology fellows, many of whom are leaders in the field.  In November 2015, Dr. Sampson stepped-down as Dean for Translational Biomedical Sciences at Mount Sinai to devote part of his time to DBV Technologies as their Chief Scientific Officer as well as continuing his translational research and clinical activities at Mount Sinai.


Scott Sicherer, MD

Dr. Scott Sicherer is the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe professor of allergy, immunology and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Division Chief of Pediatric Allergy, and Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, taking over this position from his mentor, Hugh Sampson who served as Director for 20 years. Dr. Sicherer’s research interests, funded in part by the NIH and FARE, include numerous areas of food allergy.  Dr. Sicherer has led epidemiologic studies that substantiated an increase in peanut allergy in the U.S. and focused attention on the need for new strategies for treatment and prevention. His studies on allergen food labeling substantially informed U.S. laws to improve labeling. Another series of studies on food allergy-related quality of life has raised awareness to prevent bullying and promote patients’ overall wellbeing. He has published over 225 articles in scientific journals, authored over 50 book chapters, and is recognized for being among the top 1% of researchers for most cited documents in their field. He has held leadership positions in several professional organizations and has co-authored numerous practice guidelines to improve care of patients.  He authored four books for the lay public, the most recent one entitled:  Food Allergies: A Complete Guide to Eating When Your Life Depends on It (second edition). Dr. Sicherer has been consistently recognized as a “Top Doctor” by Castle-Connolly/New York Magazine. He is proud of the advocacy work he has contributed to for over 20 years working with FAAN, FAI and FARE.


Tomorrow we will introduce the other individuals and organizations being honored for their contribution to 20 years of progress in food allergy action, research, education and advocacy.


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