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Letter from the Editors
We are thrilled to present the 2020 edition of the Northwestern Public Health Review (NPHR). In this issue, we explore the dynamic chronic disease of allergies from both an individual and a population-based perspective. Allergic reactions impact individuals of all backgrounds. Further, they can take many forms from the runny noses of hayfever to the life-threatening anaphylactic reactions triggered by food, drug, and insect allergies. In this publication, we have curated a diverse set of voices and perspectives to shed light on the many facets of this medical problem as well as to highlight emerging areas of research.
First, Dr. Kristy Wolniak defines the term allergy. Her piece summarizes the biological interactions implicated in allergic reactions while simultaneously detailing what an allergy is NOT. This definition sets the foundation for the remainder of the publication. Our editorial staff members then highlight a variety of emerging concepts in allergy-related research and treatment. Personal narratives from individuals living with allergies complement these research-focused blurbs. While each person’s experience is unique, a few underlying themes emerge from these stories. Perhaps most notably, access to life-saving medications – epinephrine – is critical. Dr. Ruchi Gupta not only describes her work in understanding the epidemiology of childhood food allergies but also discusses her advocacy work to ensure children have access to epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPens) in schools. Finally, Virginia Nowakowski explores the economic impact of allergies during a discussion with Dr. Lucy Bilaver, an expert on the costs of care related to allergies. Each article, supplemental piece, and illustration helps to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on allergies.
We wish to thank all of our contributors and a special thank you to the students of the University of Illinois at Chicago Biomedical Visualization program for their beautiful illustrations to accompany the pieces throughout this issue. We thoroughly enjoyed developing this edition of the NPHR and are excited to share it with our readers.
The NPHR Editors-in-Chief
Grace Bellinger and Margaret Walker