Junior Member News - March, 2019

Junior Member News – March 2019

The WAO Junior Members Group: Review of AAAAI

This year the 2019 AAAAI Annual Meeting took place in San Francisco, California, United States where the main theme was “Food allergy: Advances in prevention and treatment.”

On Friday the Presidential plenary was titled ‘’Optimal care of the Food Allergic Patient’’. My notes for those unable to attend can be summarized by saying there is a lot happening in this area and it is changing fast. Robert Wood, the president of the AAAAI at the time, was the moderator of this session and he set the arena by discussing the optimal Diagnostic and testing strategies to confirm food allergies. He divided testing by generations: 1-Skin testing, 2-Specific IgE, 3-Component testing, and 4-Epitope mapping and basophil activation test.  I feel it is always good to remember some of the basic points he highlighted in his talk and my two key take always were:

  1. Feel free to ignore results when patients can tolerate foods
  2. order only the tests you need and conduct an oral food challenge when diagnosis is not clear

Wesley Burks talked about the optimal use of emerging treatment for food allergies and Cecilia Berin described novel therapies in development. It was exciting to see all the advances in OIT, SLIT and epicutaneous trials, as well as all the monoclonal antibodies that are been studied alone or in association with those modalities.

On Saturday the plenary was entitled “Outcomes, Education and Health care delivery in Allergic Diseases.” This was followed by The World Allergy Forum on the topic of “New Advances on allergen Immunotherapy.” I cannot fail to mention the session on “Gender disparities in asthma: Are hormones to blame?” Specifically, because I am particularly interested in this area and I think it will change the way we think about the airway epithelium. I must also point out, that day the Keynote speaker, Eric Schadt, gave my favorite talk. He spoke about “Constructing individualized Health Course Trajectories to Construct Better Models of Asthma and other Immune/Inflammation Disorders.” My 3 highlights of his talk are:

  1. Next Generation sequencing is the most powerful human technology
  2. Every human would benefit from genome sequencing
  3. We ran today more than 150.000 NGS-based test as part of clinical care

On Sunday the Plenary was on “Systemic Regulation of Susceptibility and Pathogenesis of Allergic Inflammation.”  I was proud to see my mentor, Sergejs Berdnikovs, present his data on “Systemic Hormones and the unified Barrier Hypothesis of allergy,” but I may be biased since I worked in his lab for two years in research related to this topic. I am sad I wasn’t there on Monday and had to miss the plenary on “Atopic Dermatitis: Bench to Bedside and Back” but I know there were plenty of other session on atopic dermatitis during this meeting.

Event though I did not participate on the 7th Annual 5 k, I was excited to see so many allergists relax and get ready to board the trollies that would take them to the AT&T park to take part of such a fun activity. Also, this year they started a four-person team competition, so start training with your favorite team of allergist so you can take part next year.

As a previous awardee and mentor of the Chrysalis project, I was thrilled to witnessed again how the program welcomed new enthusiastic medical students as well as residents interested in the field of allergy/immunology. This program continues to put together a group of lectures on the bread and butter of our field, as well as the different career paths in Allergy and Immunology. I am sure these activities will continue to spark the interest of students and residents and allow them to take the first steps towards a career in this field.

The fellows-in-training, as in previous years, had their own program. I can’t deny I wish I had been there to take part in some of their courses. They had an interactive Contract Negotiation Session that I am sure can teach all of us some useful skills.

During this meeting I learned about the 2019 Priorities for AAAAI Advocacy. This was specifically designed to impact our practice in United States, but I feel it’s a message all allergists/immunologists can get behind. My top notes include:

  1. Promote penicillin allergy testing as a component of antibiotic stewardship
  2. Encourage ongoing federal investment in allergy and immunology research
  3. Enact asthma in Schools legislation

As always, walking by the posters, learning about all that friends, colleagues and mentors are working on, is the part of the meeting that gives me great joy. I have to say, this was my first meeting after completing my fellowship and my enthusiasm only continues to grow. I hope we all continue to flourish our love for our field of allergy and immunology and continue to work hard to expand our knowledge and make enriching collaborations.


Lyda Cuervo Pardo
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Clinical Immunology
University of Florida