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Highlights from the Allergy Diagnostic Unit

From left: Anthony Szema with medical students Khalil Savary, Niha Qamar, and Rabail Razi
From left: Anthony Szema with medical students Khalil Savary, Niha Qamar, and Rabail Razi

Anthony Szema, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, is the new head of the Allergy Diagnostic Unit located at 26 Research Way, East Setauket. The Unit provides quaternary care with highly sophisticated tests for asthma and allergy, including exhaled breath condensate nitric oxide, impedance oscillometry, and multi-test allergy skin testing. The Unit will soon offer penicillin skin testing.

Szema recently testified before the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee in Washington, D.C., about “burn pits” in Iraq. The U.S. Army is burning trash in these pits and some soldiers are concerned about their exposure to fire, smoke, and fumes. Michael Peters, a graduate of Stony Brook’s School of Medicine who is now at the University of Colorado, conducted a study with Szema in 2008, showing that Iraq-deployed soldiers are being diagnosed with new-onset asthma at twice the rate of stateside-based troops. In addition rhinitis rates are doubled among those in Iraq.

These data are analogous to research done by Stony Brook medical students Kevin Lai, Khalil Savary, and Benjamin Ying, which has been published in the November 2009 issue of the journal Allergy and Asthma Proceedings and highlighted at the American Thoracic Society International Conference. The research shows that children living near the World Trade Center have persistently high asthma rates. These data follow the results of the Allergy/Immunology fellows’ initial Editor’s Choice publication in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which was the first article stating that pediatric asthma rates increased 50 percent after 9/11, and that previously diagnosed asthmatics were clinically worse.

Under the aegis of Distinguished Professor Sami I. Said, who discovered Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, Szema recently completed a National Institutes of Health K08 award to investigate genetic mechanisms of asthma. This has led to a provisional patent for a new asthma drug. He is seeking further funding to bring this medicine to fruition. An Allergy and Asthma Center nonprofit foundation account has been set up to accept donations specifically for basic medical research on allergies and asthma.

Patients can call the Allergy Diagnostic Unit at 444-0580 for an appointment, and physicians may fax their consult requests to 444-0562.

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