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Meet Your Candidates for Secretary-Treasurer

Now through January 4, AAAAI Fellows (those who have achieved the FAAAAI credential) and full members have the opportunity to select the next Board of Directors. Make your voice heard by voting for the next Secretary-Treasurer and three new At-Large Directors.
Secretary-Treasurer candidates, whom if elected eventually ascend to become AAAAI President, answered a series of questions to provide you with a deeper understanding of their goals for the AAAAI as an organization, both here and in a special AAAAI podcast episode. Frank S. Virant, MD, FAAAAI, is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Allergy Division Chief at Seattle Children’s Hospital, in clinical practice at Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center and an investigator at Seattle Allergy & Asthma Research Institute. Christopher C. Randolph, MD, FAAAAI, is the CEO/second provider for the Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Waterbury, Connecticut with clinical affiliation with Yale for 35 years, currently as Clinical Professor in Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology.
List five significant contributions you’ve made to the field of A/I outside your involvement with the AAAAI
Dr. Randolph: • CEO, allergy/asthma and immunology private practice and clinical research center for Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology full time since 1986 with educational affiliation with Yale, Waterbury and Chief Allergy Clinic at St. Mary’s Community Hospitals with internal medicine residency and allergy fellow rotations in office (1986-2020 pandemic); • Clinical Professor at Yale in Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology training allergy/immunology fellows since 1986; • Societies and committees: Treasurer and President of the New England Allergy Society and Connecticut Allergy Society, as well as Superdelegate House of Delegates and member of the Board of Regents of the ACAAI and Chair of the ACAAI Sports Committee; • Presentations: annual abstracts and seminar presentations at national meetings of ACAAI, particularly on EIB; • Joint Task Force member from 2004-2018 and one of the chief editors of the EIB practice parameters published in 2010 in Annals and in 2016 in JACI and Chair of the ACAAI Sports Committee. Dr. Virant: • Chair and author (eight sections) of the inaugural Joint Task Force Sinusitis Practice Parameter (2005) • Associate Director, University of Washington Allergy/Immunology Fellowship Program (2010-21) • Member, AAP Section on Allergy/Immunology Executive Committee (2003-2011) • Investigator/Sub-Investigator on 300+ clinical research studies • Publications: chapters (18), articles (94), abstracts (28)
Describe your qualifications for the Secretary-Treasurer position. (Executive/administrative experience outside of AAAAI, media relations, mentoring, teaching, patient advocacy, etc.)
Dr. Randolph: • Clinical professor at Yale in Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology (1986-2021) weekly lectures and clinic training allergy fellows, immunology for medical students, allergy/immunology for Yale pediatric residents. • Chief of Allergy/Immunology in Pediatric Residency Program St. Mary’s Hospital Yale or UCONN affiliation (1986-2010). • Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (since 1986) CEO/sole proprietor private allergy/immunology practice with mentoring medical residents from Yale Affiliated Hospital above in office rotations and allergy fellows from Yale . • Pollen Count Center Waterbury Hospital Community Hospital of Yale (1986-2021) with counting for National Allergy Bureau, NIH studies on climate change, abstract presentations with Yale fellow in 2021 and frequent Connecticut TV and radio station interviews related to allergy, asthma and immunology since 1986 and media expert for ACAAI and AAAAI. • Lay organizations: HAE lectures with HAE patients arranged with HAE lay organizations and Biocyst and Shire (Virapharma) and HIV lay organizations with award for dedication to patients. • Political advocacy via House of Delegates ACAAI Superdelegate and our Washington lobbyists for allergy profession concerns telemedicine compensation equitable with in-person sterile compounding. • Connecticut and New England Allergy Societies Treasurer and President and in-person, local, regional and national AAAAI and ACAAI lectures for pharmaceutical concerns. Dr. Virant: • President, Trans-Pacific Allergy/Immunology Society (1995-1998) • Allergy Division Chief, Seattle Children’s Hospital & Medical Center (2010-present) • Associate Director, University of Washington Allergy/Immunology Fellowship Program (2010-21) • Senior Partner, Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center (2014-present) • Media Spokesman, ABC (KOMO), NBC (KING), CBS (KIRO), FOX (KCPQ) local affiliate stations (1988-present) • Mentor (fellows, residents, medical students) UW Medical Center (1988-present)
If elected, what would be the focus of your Presidential initiatives?
Dr. Randolph: My plans would be to make the AAAAI more interdisciplinary with cooperative ventures with other national organizations such as public health, cardiology, pulmonary and infectious disease. I’d also like to see the creation of a division of AAAAI devoted to prophylaxis or preparedness for epidemics and other crises to address and achieve mental and physical fitness and health maintenance for our allergy, asthma and immunology patients and our planet or human community. My overall theme would be fitness and optimal health maintenance in allergy, asthma and immunology providers, patients and planet.
To meet these challenges requires a more interdisciplinary approach to human health from a population standpoint that is devoted to mental and physical fitness of our patients with proper exercise and diet as well as healthy climatic conditions. These conditions require monitoring by training allergists to monitor pollen and mold counts. Addressing the crisis of health fitness with programming, research and convening of a task force would enhance the image and role of the AAAAI and allergist in the broader national and international medical community. Dr. Virant: We need to solidify the allergist/immunologist as the “go to” specialist for immunomodulation of eosinophilic rhinosinusitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, eosinophilic asthma, atopic dermatitis, mast cell disease, hereditary angioedema and chronic idiopathic urticaria. The future of our specialty rests on embracing state-of-the-art treatments for these disorders. This requires continuous educational targeted updates to assure our members feel confident about providing such treatments and to navigate barriers to patient care (e.g., prior authorization for expensive monoclonals). This latter aspect likely will require continuing the work of Dr. Khan’s current Prior Authorization Task Force and potentially providing addenda to several relevant practice parameters to clarify when patients should be considered for certain treatments (versus several current insurance company-based guidelines that often delay appropriate care).
Expanding the AAAAI Registry (assuming ongoing Board approval) to provide the framework for practices to demonstrate “cost-effective” quality care, provide ongoing MIPS/MVP data collection for meaningful use and specialty-specific global “big data” support. Ultimately, my sense is this will require hiring a new consultant for us to sit at the table with pharma to generate meaningful engagement and funding.
What do you see as a primary challenge for the field of A/I and how would you address it?
Dr. Randolph: The COVID-19 pandemic is an important challenge to our nation and world. I have indicated that one of the initiatives of my presidency would be to create a separate division that would be empowered to build preparedness around conflicts or crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which would create a task force of experts with boots on the ground. This task force would be given the mission to address the approach and knowledge base for the allergy community by producing a report, similar to the pulmonary procedures during COVID-19 report published online and in JACI: In Practice by our accomplished ADT Interest Section and prepared by the committee, which I co-chair, and was ably edited by my Co-Chair. Such a division is essential to providing guidance to our practicing community in a timely fashion in a crisis such as COVID-19 pandemic, but this function may be applied to any political, medical, social or ethical crisis that may confront our profession or community.
Dr. Virant:
An ongoing challenge remains attracting residents to our specialty, and training fellows to assume academic positions to ultimately lead training programs. In addition to Dr. Khan’s initiative to start local pilot programs to expose residents to our specialty (like the Texas program), I think we should enlist RSL Governors to organize regional A/I grand rounds speakers and encourage having more residents shadow practitioners to showcase our specialty. The AAAAI Foundation could also consider awards for training programs that need bridge support for new faculty as directors retire.
Give an example of an opportunity (or opportunities) for the allergy/immunology. How could this be utilized to advance the specialty?
Dr. Randolph: The COVID-19 pandemic is a primary example of an opportunity for our subspecialty to exert its influence as the premier role of the immunologist and source of knowledge regarding the most effective intervention in the pandemic: vaccination. Our specialty can and has provided guidance on the rarely documented allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccine and management so that this critical intervention can be administered, for example with premedication with antihistamines in a medically supervised environment after the patient has been reassured by skin testing to components. There appears to be rare allergic reactions documented to components of the vaccine related to PEG and polysorbates, the principal components of the vaccine thought to be related to allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. The allergy community has educated the public that allergic reactions to vaccine are very rarely documented and even when documented rarely impact administration of full vaccination of the patient.
Dr. Virant:
A major opportunity is simply educating primary care practitioners and the public how A/I specialists can be helpful in 2022 and beyond. I’m confident that many family practitioners, pediatricians, internists as well as the public lack a clear perception of what we do beyond evaluating and treating anaphylaxis.
Why do you want to be President of the AAAAI?
Dr. Randolph: I want to be President of the AAAAI with the mission to harness the synergistic energy of the clinical and academic community to enable the AAAAI to become more nimble in crises like the pandemic of health fitness or COVID-19. This mission would involve the creation of a division of preparedness that will address crises such as the pandemic with an interdisciplinary task or strike force that would provide recommendations to the practicing allergist, as well as programming and research funding.
Additionally, there is a need for broadening the policies and activities of the AAAAI fields of inclusion to include public health and management of climate change. Most importantly, we need to address mental and physical fitness with interspecialty Annual Meeting programming on climate change as well as public health maintenance, such as individualized exercise prescriptions for patients and providers. I envision a preparedness division to provide recommendations for pandemics such as health fitness. To paraphrase Shaw: why not?
Dr. Virant:
I would appreciate the opportunity to lead our membership in key initiatives for the future of our specialty. I would also be honored to continue to serve an organization that has been such an integral part of my professional life for nearly 40 years.