Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Allergy, Genes and Environment Network - AllerGen

$74.4 million for 2004-19
About   |   News   |   Events   |   Features   |   Videos
Allergy, Genes and Environment Network

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$93.2 million

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Scientific Director
Judah A. Denburg Judah A. Denburg

Board chair
Pieter Cullis Pieter Cullis
Director, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia

A new approach to battling Canada's allergy and asthma epidemic

The opportunity

Conditions like asthma, hay fever, food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis are sweeping the industrialized world, and Canada is near the top of the list of nations facing a growing problem. Allergic disease affects one in three Canadians and costs our healthcare system and society billions of dollars annually. The launch of the AllerGen NCE in 2004 provided a unique opportunity for researchers from across the country and from different disciplines to work in national and international teams, with public and private sector partners, to improve public health and move solutions to market faster. This collaborative effort is also helping Canada address a critical shortage of allergists, immunologists, clinician-scientists and allergy-related health professionals and educators.

How AllerGen is seizing the opportunity

The Allergy, Genes and Environment Network has mobilized a national network of over 200 researchers, 1,315 active and former students, and more than 225 partners and collaborators (including universities, hospitals, industry, government agencies, charities, school boards and professional organizations) to map a coordinated response aimed at reducing the illness, mortality and socio-economic costs of allergic disease. Together, these network participants represent a critical mass of resources and expertise needed to generate new preventive strategies, diagnostic tests, therapeutic approaches, medications, public policies and patient education.

Among the results

  • Data from AllerGen’s Canadian Food Allergy Strategic Team (CanFAST) shows that 7.5% of Canadians have a food allergy, and those with lower education or who immigrated to Canada within the previous 10 years have fewer food allergies than the general population. This team is also identifying the genetic risk for peanut allergy, studying the benefits of oral immunotherapy to treat milk allergy, and developing new strategies to re-program the allergic response, reversing food allergen sensitivity and eliminating anaphylactic reactions.
  • The AllerGen-funded Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study of 3,500 children from across Canada continues to generate results from the analysis of data and biological samples. Findings from 2015 CHILD studies include that exposure to outdoor air pollution during the first year of life increases the risk of developing allergies to food, mould, pets and pests, and that differences in babies’ intestinal bacteria can help predict future development of food allergies and asthma.
  • AllerGen researchers discovered a new potential antibody treatment that significantly improved symptoms of inflammation and bronchoconstriction in allergic asthma. These findings may lead to an antibody treatment for patients who have problems using inhalers or steroid-based medications for asthma control. The study was conducted by the AllerGen-supported Clinical Investigator Collaborative—an efficient, cost-effective clinical trials consortium that works with industry to fast-track new therapeutics in allergy and asthma.
  • AirSENCE is a new sensing device developed by AllerGen researchers and trainees that enables users to measure their personal exposure to outdoor or indoor air pollutants, and to better avoid areas where pollution levels are dangerously high. AirSENCE helped athletes and visitors at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games gauge the local air quality and plan the timing and location of their activities.
  • Allergy Pals, an online mentorship program, was developed by an AllerGen research team and licensed to Anaphylaxis Canada, enabling them to provide peer support to children affected by severe food allergies and asthma.

Connect with AllerGen


November 1, 2016
June 30, 2016
December 31, 2015
October 6, 2015
December 1, 2014
April 7, 2014
February 19, 2014
February 10, 2014
3,500 children could change Canada’s approach to fighting chronic diseases
November 27, 2014
If just 24 children can help scientists discover that Caesarean sections and formula feeding may deprive babies of the protective gut bacteria needed for lifelong health, just imagine what will be discovered by collecting a wide range of health information from some 3,500 children. Scientists believe it will influence everything from health policy and building codes to parenting decisions for decades to come. Read more
Financial Barriers May Increase Emergency Room Visits for Children with Asthma
June 7, 2011
A new Canadian study, led by an AllerGen Network of Centres of Excellence investigator, reveals that financial barriers — in the form of sharing asthma medication costs between insurers and families — are contributing to poor asthma control in children. Read more
Watch Video
AIC Model In Allergic Asthma
September 12, 2016
Watch Video
Don't Delay, Feed Today
September 12, 2016
Watch Video
Introduction to Bregs
September 12, 2016
Watch Video
The Phthalates Song
September 12, 2016
Watch Video
HQP Testimonial Highlights
September 8, 2015
Watch Video
The CHILD Study is discovering root causes of allergies, asthma and chronic disease
July 8, 2015
Watch Video
Epinephrine 4 life
May 22, 2015
Watch Video
Asthma and H1N1 Swine Flu
May 22, 2015