Celebrating International Day of the Tropics 2020 by learning more about allergies
Our International Day of The Tropics 2020 webinar aimed to raise awareness of allergies and their importance in daily life.
In conjunction with International Day of the Tropics, which takes place every year on 29 June, the Singapore campus of James Cook University held a webinar focussed on the allergy epidemic in the tropical regions of world – titled “Allergy in the Tropics”.
Allergies are a widespread occurrence. After all, approximately 10% of children and adults experience some type of food allergies. Meanwhile, up to 50% of the general population have inhalant allergies and are sensitive to pollen and dust mites. However, very little is known about this allergy epidemic in the tropical regions of world. Therefore, the webinar sought to shed more light on the subject.
The webinar saw insights from a distinguished panel of speakers, moderated by Dr Ben Smith – Director of the Innovations in Food & Chemical Safety Programme at the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR). The panellists comprised of:
- Professor Andreas Lopata – Professor in Molecular Allergy, College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences and Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University
- Dr Elizabeth Tham – Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore Consultant and Head, Division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology, Khoo Teck Puat-National University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Health System
- Dr Anand Andiappan – SIgN Fellow, Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), Senior Research Scientist, Biomedical Sciences Institute (BMSI), A*STAR
Professor Lopata paved the way for the discussion with his presentation that provided an overview on allergies – including how allergens and allergies operate, and the challenges that they pose to the Tropics.
He said, “Currently, 40 per cent of the world population live in the Tropics. This number is increasing dramatically, and more and more allergy research will move from European countries – where it’s very well established – to more tropical regions.”
Subsequently, Dr Andiappan took a deeper dive into the subject, with particular focus on Singapore. He shared about airway allergies and laboratory diagnostics, including research and efforts that himself and his collaborators have taken to study this field.
Dr Tham then shifted gears, sharing more about food allergies and anaphylaxis (referring to a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). Her presentation included insights into food allergy diagnostics in the clinical setting, and a comparison of food allergy patterns between Asia, Singapore and the West.
After their respective presentations, the panel of speakers addressed a wide array of questions, such as how to distinguish allergens and irritants, and if it is possible to cure allergies.
Ultimately, this fascinating webinar allowed audiences to understand the benefits of research on allergies, and why it is important to understand allergic/chronic diseases in the tropical regions of the world, including Singapore.
View the full recording of the webinar here.
Find further information on our areas of research and research strength at James Cook University in Singapore here.
Find out more about International Day of the Tropics here.
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