Solving the Food Allergy Puzzle: Philippe Bégin, M.D.

beginResearchers and other medical professionals are crucial allies to families living with food allergies. They are the ones who break the news when a child gets diagnosed, treat reactions, conduct food challenges, provide advice, run innovative clinical trials and stand at the front lines of our mission to find a cure. Doctors like Philippe Bégin spend each day helping patients living with food allergies and working to find effective treatments. He will be speaking about his work at FARE’s Food Allergy Conference in Anaheim, CA on June 1.

We asked Dr. Bégin to tell us a bit about his sessions and his motivation for working in the food allergy field.

What was your interest in getting involved in food allergy research?

From a scientific point of view, food allergies are very interesting (I guess I am kind of nerd). It is quite a puzzle how the body could mistake something as vital as food for a harmful substance and mount such a strong reaction to it. Food allergies kind of took us by surprise at the end of the last century, and everything we think we know about them changes at the speed of light. However, we are making progress and this is certainly a very exciting field to work in. As a clinician/scientist, I get to see both the lab and clinic sides, and I get my motivation from my patients. When you deal with families who are managing food allergies, you see how much your work matters and how it affects lives. Every small step toward a better understanding or an effective treatment feels like a huge victory and is more motivation to keep going.

This is your first FARE conference – what are you most excited about?

One of my mentors used to say that having food allergies is like carrying a bomb with you at all times. It’s the quality of our teaching that can make sure that bomb doesn’t go off and we can potentially save lives. The FARE conferences do just that. They are the ultimate learning and teaching experience for families dealing with food allergies, covering topics from the scientific point of view to the very practical tips for the day-to-day life. There is no cure for food allergies, but you can learn to outsmart and outplay them. I’m very excited to be part of this great educational event and to have the opportunity to make a difference.

What do you hope attendees will be able to take away from your sessions?

My sessions will focus on the medical and scientific sides of food allergies. The first talk entitled “Understanding Food Allergies” will cover the who, what, where, how and why of food allergies. I will give the answers to typical questions that I get asked by patients or families in clinics, such as “What is a food allergy?” “Why is there so much more today?” “How should I diagnose/follow it?” and “How should I deal with an acute reaction?”

We may not have a cure yet, but I am confident we will get there in the future. The second session will discuss food allergies from a research point of view, focusing on emerging therapies that are being studied, giving a feel of the different ideas out there and where we are now. I will also describe the type of research we do here at the Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research, what it is like to be in a clinical trial, and the challenges that await us in the future.

Philippe Bégin is a visiting scholar at the Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR), a leader in therapies and prevention for severe food allergies. He completed his medical and specialty training at the University of Montreal in Canada, where he currently holds a position as an allergist and associate researcher. 

There’s still time to register for our conference in Anaheim, CA (June 1). Register today on our website: www.foodallergy.org/conferences

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