Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation

The Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation

The Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation was founded by John and Patricia Ilhan in 2006 after their young daughter suffered a terrifying anaphylactic reaction. Her condition was subsequently diagnosed as an extreme allergy to tree nuts.

The Foundation funds scientific research aimed at improving the lives of people coping with anaphylaxis and food allergies. It also raises awareness about the issues surrounding anaphylaxis and the resources available to help manage this life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, fish and shellfish.

According to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s ‘Health Nuts’ research, Australia has the highest incidence of food allergy in the world. Funded by the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation and published in 2011, the research showed that as many as 1 in 10 infants had a reaction to food allergies. It clearly signalled a potential chronic health epidemic in the future.


Ilhan/Gandel research partnership

Gandel Foundation and the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation formed a joint partnership to support research being undertaken by Prof Robyn O’Hehir at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

The ultimate goal of Prof O’Hehir’s research is to formulate the world’s first vaccine for peanut allergy – the most common and potentially fatal of all allergies. The research aims to determine the potential for a safe and effective immunological therapy for people with nut allergies. It will also assist in the development of better diagnostics for nut allergy sufferers.

Prof O’Hehir’s project is being followed around the world. Early research had demonstrated strong progress in the ‘proof of concept’ phase, identifying and replicating peptides required for a vaccine. Further basic research was required to reach the point of Phase 1 clinical trials, and that additional period is funded by the Ilhan/Gandel partnership.


“We are delighted with our partnership with Gandel Foundation. Together we have been able to help fast track this important piece of world-leading research.”

Patricia Ilhan, co-founder of the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation

 The project continues to progress well and pre-clinical trial preparation has already begun. A complete panel of peptides containing dominant sequences from major peanut allergies has been identified for therapeutic development, and pre-clinical screening has commenced.

The Ilhan/Gandel partnership’s demonstrated commitment to this research project also contributed to Prof O’Hehir’s recent successful bid for The Alfred Trust CEO Translational Research Project Grant. This welcome additional funding will facilitate progression to clinical trial.