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Allergy, Genes and Environment Network - AllerGen

$74.4 million for 2004-20
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Allergy, Genes and Environment Network

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$122.6 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 Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen) 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

AllerGen has mobilized a national network of more than 200 researchers, 1,434 active and former students, and nearly 200 partners and collaborators (including universities, hospitals, industry organizations, government agencies, charities, school boards and professional organizations) to map a coordinated response aimed at reducing the occurrence, mortality and socio-economic costs of allergic disease. Together, these network participants represent a critical mass of the resources and expertise needed to generate new preventive strategies, diagnostic tests, therapeutic approaches, medications, public policies and patient education.

Among the results

  • 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. New findings have shown that three-month old infants with low levels of four types of gut bacteria have a significantly higher risk of asthma, making it the first study to establish a causal link between infant gut bacteria and the development of asthma.
  • According to two 2016 studies from CHILD Study data, one-year old children whose mothers consumed fruit each day during pregnancy performed better on developmental testing than children whose mothers did not, and the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy may place infants at an increased risk of obesity.
  • Anaphylaxis has doubled among children, according to four years of data from AllerGen’s Cross-Canada Anaphylaxis REgistry (C-CARE). The registry has also helped identify foods that are common anaphylactic triggers (peanuts in children and shellfish in adults), the annual anaphylaxis recurrence rate in children (18%) and a serious underuse of epinephrine auto-injectors. 
  • AllerGen investigators have generated new insights into how diesel exhaust and inhaled allergens can provoke molecular changes in the lung tissue of allergy-prone individuals, increasing understanding of how air pollution affects the development and progression of allergic respiratory disease, including asthma.

Connect with AllerGen


October 15, 2018
April 20, 2018
March 15, 2018
August 24, 2017
August 23, 2017
March 1, 2017
February 23, 2017
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
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The CHILD Cohort Study and a baby’s microbiome
May 16, 2019
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How to Effect Societal Change: Working with the Media & Public
March 24, 2017
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AllerGen How to Attract Investment & Partners with Brian Underdown
March 20, 2017
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Assessing the Market Potential for a New Asthma Therapeutic with Jonathon Jafari
March 20, 2017
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Integrating the Patient Voice in Health Research: The What, Why and How
March 13, 2017
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Getting to Impact: Why Knowledge Translation Matters for Researchers with Melanie Barwick
February 21, 2017
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CHILD Study: Air pollution puts kids at allergy risk
January 17, 2017
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AIC Model In Allergic Asthma
September 12, 2016
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Don't Delay, Feed Today
September 12, 2016
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Introduction to Bregs
September 12, 2016
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The Phthalates Song
September 12, 2016
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HQP Testimonial Highlights
September 8, 2015
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The CHILD Study is discovering root causes of allergies, asthma and chronic disease
July 8, 2015
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Epinephrine 4 life
May 22, 2015
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Asthma and H1N1 Swine Flu
May 22, 2015