“Science Discerns the Laws of Nature. Industry Applies Them to the Needs of Man.”
Inscription in the Rotunda, Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
It’s pretty unusual for someone in my generation or older to remember having any real awareness of food allergies when we were growing up. For my elementary-school-age kids on the other hand, serious allergies are a newly dominant reality of childhood. Though my kids don’t have allergies, they saw a huge swollen welt emerge on their young cousin’s cheek when a couple drops of milk touched his skin; they can rattle off specific foods dear friends of theirs are allergic to, and they are versant in concepts like “the no peanut lunch table” at school and “dairy-free cupcake options” at birthday parties.
1 out of 13 kids under age 18 is now diagnosed as allergic to at least one of The Big 8 allergenic foods, 30% are allergic to more than one food, and the epidemic is doubling every 10 years (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/06/16/peds.2011-0204). Despite these staggering numbers, it remains an often misunderstood disease, in part because it is such a recent phenomenon.
Which is why I was so blown away when I first met Dr. Kari Nadeau.
When she and I were originally introduced someone said to me, “It’s Nadeau. Kinda like tornado.” Which, in retrospect, seems poetic for someone who embodies the concept “force of nature.”
Being a pediatrician is a big part of who Dr. Nadeau is… and she is the kind of doctor deeply loved by her patients. But being a researcher is an equally big part of who she is as well. So my first intersections with her were catalyzed by our shared interest in the molecular basis of immune-system mediated conditions. In her research, she was using technologies and tools that I’d been working with closely myself in various biotech companies: genotypic / phenotypic data sets, iPS cells, epigenetics, immune repertoire profiling, machine learning – breathtaking, cutting edge science. As we zeroed in on leading-edge work she had conducted in the nutritional category, a shared vision for a new kind of company began to take shape.
What if we could leverage the output of all these Nobel-prize winning technologies, build on decades of research enabled by families who have struggled with allergic conditions, and harness this work to bring novel consumer products directly to healthy young families BEFORE problems begin.
We wouldn’t be a traditional life sciences company because we wouldn’t be developing products for people who are already sick. We wouldn’t be your average dietary supplement company because we’d be built on clinical insights and intellectual property licensed from one of the leading universities in the world. We’d be going against the grain of the food industry because we’d bring allergen-full products to consumers at a time when allergen-free foods are some of the hottest, fastest growing categories.
But with science, entrepreneurship, and the passion that comes from being moms we could build something meaningful that delivers real value to families and to society-at-large.
Which brings me to the purpose of this note. Today, on behalf of Dr. Nadeau and myself, I am excited to announce the official launch of BEFORE BrandsTM, Inc. a new company that will bring a truly novel set of products directly to families. Our products are not intended for people who already have allergies but they are being developed with profound respect for the challenges those families experience. Importantly with this announcement, we bring an unwavering commitment to develop this vision intelligently, creatively, responsibly, and urgently. Our children’s generation and the generations that will follow them deserve nothing less.