Dr. Christine Olsen transitions to executive chair of the organization’s board of directors

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI) today named veteran healthcare research leader John Walter as CEO of the food allergy research organization. Walter had served as chief operating officer for FASI since January of this year.

Walter is the former CEO of the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research and former CEO of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where he dramatically expanded research to focus on partnerships with biotech and academia and increased the organization’s funding from $40 million to more than $320 million annually – the largest growth for a nonprofit during that period. He has also consulted with other nonprofits on governance, venture philanthropy and organizational design.

Walter’s philosophy as a “for-profit philanthropist” will allow him to leverage the disciplines of co-active leadership, metrics and operational efficiency to drive measurable results for FASI. As CEO, he will lead the organization’s next phase of growth, working with current leadership and research teams to accelerate research and the development of therapies for food allergies.

“Taking on this role with FASI is exciting not just because of the new challenges it will present, but also because the organization is engaged in leading edge science that can improve the lives of millions who have traditionally been told they must learn to manage their food allergies with avoidance and EpiPens,” he said. “Through the work we do at FASI and our groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary approach, we strive to find a cure, and I’m thrilled to be part of this new frontier. Imagine a world without food allergies – FASI is.”

The advancement of Walter to this position is a recognition of FASI’s success and expansion, said Dr. Christine Olsen, who helped establish FASI in 2016 with the goal of bringing together the brightest minds in medicine and science to find a cure for food allergies. She has served as CEO since the organization’s founding.

“We are ecstatic to have a professional of John’s caliber leading the FASI team,” she said. “His experience successfully leading healthcare teams will ensure that FASI flourishes and builds upon its mission to find a cure for these allergies, which disrupt and endanger the lives of so many.”

In her new role, Olsen, a radiation oncologist, will continue to help guide the vision of FASI as executive chair of the organization’s board of directors and work to recruit the best researchers in their fields to contribute to FASI’s growing body of food allergy research.

The Food Allergy Science Initiative is a 501(3)(c) organization that began as a collaborative effort with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University. Each founder has experienced the terror of watching their child have a life-threatening allergic reaction to food that is normally harmless – nuts, fruit, legumes, eggs and dairy. The lack of scientific research in this area led FASI to do its own research and build urgency around the need to learn about the biology of food allergies in order to develop effective cures.

In just a short time, FASI has made tremendous progress pioneering important new discoveries, attracting talented researchers, facilitating scientific and public outreach and nurturing the food allergy community


Scott Pruden
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