Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

The Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Division at Duke University Medical Center is one of the oldest and largest in the Untied States. Our division was originally started by Dr. Susan Dees over 50 years ago. We now have 12 faculty and over 50 other support staff, including nurses and study coordinators. Our division, under the leadership of Dr. Rebecca Buckley, was one of the first in the world to do bone marrow transplants to try to save the lives of children that were born without an immune system.

Our division has over 50 federal and non-federal grants to do research. We have approximately $3 million a year to try to carry out these studies. Last year alone, we had 50 scientific publications to try to disseminate the information that our division has conducted studies in. We have several areas of focus; the first that we might talk about is the study of children with food allergy. We have a food allergy initiative we've created to conduct studies to try to do a couple of things. One is to understand the mechanism of why children are developing more food allergies now than they did 25 years ago.

The second reason is to try to develop new types of therapy, because we really don't have treatment for children with food allergy, other than avoidance. We have studies with clinical trials now that are looking at different types of interventions, immunotherapy to try to make kids no longer allergic to foods, such as peanut and eggs. We have over 100 children in these trials now, and, interestingly, in the first results, we have children who are allergic to peanuts that, on the initial studies, reacted to less than one hundredth of a peanut and now, on the challenges at the end of the study, they can tolerate six peanuts. Not that we're going to ask them to go to the baseball game and eat peanuts, but at least if they have an accidental contamination, they shouldn't have life-threatening symptoms.

One other area focus of in our division that has been continued under the leadership of Dr. Buckley is to continue to give children that are born without an immune system a bone marrow transplant to try to help them have a normal, functioning immune system. We have over 175 children that have had bone marrow transplants in the last 25 years, and the majority of them now are living normal, healthy lives, with a normal, functioning immune system.