Chicago Luncheon Panel


Dr. Christina Ciaccio: Moderator, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Medical Director, Section of Allergy/Immunology; Director, FARE Clinical Network, The University of Chicago

Christina Ciaccio, MD, MSc, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine and a faculty member at the University of Chicago Medicine in the Section of Allergy/Immunology. She completed training in internal medicine at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, then went on to train in adult allergy/immunology at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University and pediatric allergy/immunology at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

Dr. Ciaccio completed a Master of Science in Clinical Research with a concentration in translational research at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She was the 2011 recipient of the Young Faculty Award from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the 2012 recipient of the Paul Henson Endowment Clinical Scholar Award for her work in determining the pathogenesis of atopic disease. Dr. Ciaccio currently serves as the Clinical Director of the University of Chicago FARE Clinical Center of Excellence.

Maria Acebal, JD: National Board Member, FARE; Former CEO, FAAN

Maria has worked in patient advocacy for food allergy families since 2006, first as the founder of Safe@School Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to educating schools about food allergy safety, and later as both the General Counsel and CEO of FAAN, one of FARE’s legacy organizations. Maria’s curriculum for educators has been used in schools, camps, and daycares across the country and resulted in several published abstracts with Dr. Hemant Sharma of Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.  She was instrumental in the work behind getting the federal legislation introduced in Congress that led to President Obama signing the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act in 2013. A frequent patient advocacy representative to the National Institutes of Health, Maria was appointed to the expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) that authored Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the United States.  She currently serves on the NIH Council of Councils, a body that advises the NIH Director, and previously served on the NIAID National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council. 

In addition to appearing in numerous media segments on food allergy in both English and Spanish, Maria is also a contributing author in Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Food Additives (5th Ed., 2014) and Food Allergy: Practical Diagnosis and Management (2014), and the author of the forward to Dr. Scott Sicherer’s book Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It.

Dr. Amal Assa’ad: Associate Director, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Director of Clinical Services, Division of Allergy and Immunology; Professor, University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics; Director, FARE Clinical Network, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Amal Assa’ad, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics, the Director of Clinical Services and Associate Director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology, and the Director of the FARE Center of Excellence in Food Allergy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). She completed Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residencies at Michigan State University and Wright State University and the Allergy/Immunology fellowship at CCHMC, where she directed the Fellowship Program for 16 years and graduated 47 allergists and immunologists who hold academic and practice positions around the country. She has conducted multiple novel clinical trials for the evaluation and management of food allergy. She maintains the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology certifications. She is a clinician, researcher and educator with 75 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Assa’ad was recognized by the two major professional organizations of allergy and immunology, receiving the Women Physicians in Allergy Award from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) and the Women in Allergy Award from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). She is listed yearly among the “Best Doctors” in Cincinnati and in America. She has served in national leadership positions including chairing the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program Directors’ Assembly, serving on the Board of Directors of the AAAAI, and chairing the Adverse Food Reactions Committees of the AAAAI and ACAAI.

Dr. Assa’ad has contributed to guidelines on food allergy generated by the World Allergy Organization (WAO), the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), and NIAID. She was a member of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel that authored Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States in 2010, and she served on the NIAID-sponsored coordinating committee and expert panel that produced Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the United States in 2017.

Dr. Assa’ad is a sought-after speaker invited to present yearly at national organizations, e.g., AAAAI and ACAAI, and international organizations, e.g., EAACI and WAO, aided by her fluency in four languages. Her presentations attract a large audience due to their creative formats combining organized information and humor to solidify understanding, retention and applicability to her audience.

Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH: Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern Medicine; Director, Food Allergy Outcomes Research Program; Attending Physician, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Dr. 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 leads the Food Allergy Outcomes Research Program and 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. She completed her undergraduate and medical education at the University of Louisville. She completed her medical residency at Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, University of Washington in Seattle, WA and then a pediatric health services research fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Finally, she received her Masters of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Gupta served as a member of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel that authored Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the United States in 2017.