Jeffrey Modell Foundation Provides Grant to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to Expand Services and Provide Education on Primary Immune Deficiencies


The Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Program for Primary Immunodeficiencies

Celebrating the establishment of The Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Program for Primary Immunodeficiencies at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are, from left: Peter O’Malley, Vice President, Market Access, Baxter Biosciences, Baxter Healthcare Corporation; Brent Polk, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Fred and Vicki Modell, co-founders of the Jeffrey Modell Foundation; Joseph Church, MD, Division Head for Clinical Immunology and Allergy at Children’s Hospital; Jacopo Leonardi, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bio Therapeutics USA, Baxter Healthcare Corporation.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Brian Greene at (323) 361-4823

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 19, 2011) – Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will be able to expand diagnostic, research and physician education services for Primary Immunodeficiencies thanks to a generous grant from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation presented today. This commitment will establish The Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Program for Primary Immunodeficiencies at the hospital.

The main objective of the grant is to obtain the earliest possible and most precise diagnosis for individuals who may have a Primary Immunodeficiency (PI).  PIs are genetic disorders that result in a weakened immune system and an increased likelihood of developing severe, chronic or unusual infections.  This grant will expand diagnostic and research capabilities, with a strong emphasis on a physician education and awareness campaign.

While effective treatment exists for patients affected by these diseases, many patients are undiagnosed and untreated because of a lack of awareness by physicians. The Jeffrey Modell Foundation is in its seventh year of a joint awareness and education campaign with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Complications of Primary Immunodeficiencies are typically caused by infections that may be life threatening or debilitating,” said Joseph Church, MD, Division Head for Clinical Immunology and Allergy at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Thanks to this generous gift from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation, we will be able to expand services and education outreach so we can better identify and care for children who are stricken with these potentially devastating illnesses.”

The Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Program for Primary Immunodeficiencies at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will work to provide affected children and adolescents with leading-edge diagnosis and treatment options. Providing care for PIs is complex and requires a special set of expertise – all of which are offered at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The Children’s Hospital doctors in Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Bone Marrow Transplant and Research Immunology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine have extensive experience in PIs and work together as a team to care for patients. All members of the care team, including nutritionists and social workers, are available onsite at the hospital.

In addition, a campaign with the message “earliest possible diagnosis” will be launched to improve awareness of PI in Los Angeles and particularly in physician specialties that are likely to see the complications of PI, but not realize the underlying cause of these complications. 

“For example, the ear, nose and throat doctor who sees a child with recurrent, severe ear infections could be treating the consequences of PI and not suspect the underlying cause of the infections. So our goal is to educate these physicians,” said Dr. Church. The clinical laboratory at the hospital also provides extensive diagnostic services for PI while patients are provided access to 18 of the world’s premier PI research laboratories for the evaluation patients with PIs that do not have a clear genetic cause. 

More than 150 forms of Primary Immunodeficiencies have been identified to date and affect as many as 1 million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. They range widely in severity and type of treatment.

Vicki and Fred Modell established the Jeffrey Modell Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, in 1987, in memory of their son Jeffrey, who died at the age of 15 from a Primary Immunodeficiency – a genetic condition that is chronic, serious, and often fatal.  JMF is a global patient organization devoted to early and precise diagnosis, meaningful treatments, and ultimately, cures - through clinical and basic research, physician education, patient support, advocacy, and public awareness.  A generous educational grant from Baxter Healthcare Corporation to the Foundation ultimately made possible the gift to Children’s Hospital.

“There is a large underdiagnosed population of children and young adults suffering with these diseases, keeping them from enjoying a full life,” said Vicki Modell.  “Their illness interrupts their activities, detours their plans and shatters their dreams.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” said Fred Modell. “Our goal is to give every child a chance to lead a healthy, normal life.”

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital in California and among the best in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious US News & World Report Honor Roll.  Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. The hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

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