Pediatric patients and their families recently joined physicians from The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and representatives from the Genetic Disease Foundation (GDF) to introduce revamped quarters for the Food for Life program, which serves patients in Mount Sinai’s Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases – one of the largest centers of its kind. Food for Life was created to improve access to the specialized and often costly foods patients need to manage their health. Established with a grant from the GDF, the program features an on-site pantry stocked with food products made available at no cost to qualifying patients, along with advice and recipes from staff nutritionists.
“We’re extremely pleased to implement the Food for Life program with the GDF’s support to help our patients, many of whom are children, overcome barriers to optimal health and well-being,” said Melissa Wasserstein, MD, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomics and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases. “Enormous strides in research and biochemical genetics mean that once-fatal metabolic disorders, usually diagnosed at birth, can now be treated with life-long medical and nutritional management.”
Inherited metabolic diseases are caused by genetic errors that result in enzyme deficiencies, which make it impossible for the body to properly process certain types of foods. Toxins build up in organs to cause debilitating and life-threatening effects. Treatments include medications and a medically-prescribed diet.
“Because their diets are severely restricted, patients need to consume specially-manufactured formulas and other foodstuffs,” Dr. Wasserstein explains. “If they eat ‘off-limit’ foods, they can have serious health repercussions, like neurological damage or even coma, depending on the disease.”
“GDF is honored to make the innovative Food for Life program possible,” said Lorie Broser, GDF Board member. “We hope this addition to the excellent care provided at Mount Sinai’s Department of Genetics & Genomic Sciences will make a positive difference for the patients and families.”
The celebration centered around completion of a new interior wall design at the Food for Life reception area. To enhance the program experience for patients and families, GDF enlisted visionary designer Edin Rudic, who donated his time to create an inspiring atmosphere featuring an unusual blend of artistry, color and technology. The area now includes specially-coated walls on which kids can draw, and an HD screen to display photos from patients, some of whom were on hand for the event.
About the Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases The Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases (PIMD) at the Mount Sinai Health System specializes in providing advanced clinical and diagnostic services for the treatment of more than 600 children and adults affected by inborn errors of metabolism. Complete diagnostic evaluations, comprehensive testing, interpretation of test results, and long-term medical and nutritional management are provided.
The PIMD is an approved New York State Newborn Screening Referral Center for inherited metabolic diseases. In addition to being one of the largest Newborn Screening Referral Centers in the United States, the Program is the leading referral center in the region for the evaluation of patients with suspected inborn errors of metabolism. Our medical geneticists are committed to providing outstanding medical care for patients with inherited metabolic diseases, and to researching these disorders, with the goal of developing new, improved therapies for these conditions. Every medical geneticist in the Metabolic Genetics Faculty Practice is a member of the staff of The Mount Sinai Hospital and of the faculty of Icahn School of Medicine. Mount Sinai's Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences is one of the largest in the country dedicated to the understanding, prevention, treatment, and cure of genetic diseases and birth defects.
About the Genetic Disease Foundation The Genetic Disease Foundation (GDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1997 by patients and families affected by genetic disorders. The Foundation aims to support research and education to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases. GDF created the website www.knowyourgenes.org as a resource for people interested in learning about the role of genetics in family planning, disease diagnosis and management, and identifying hereditary health risks. The GDF has granted more than $5 million to the Department of Genetics & Genomic Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. For more information on the Genetic Disease Foundation, visit www.GeneticDiseaseFoundation.org.
About the Mount Sinai Health System The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community‐based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.
The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12‐minority‐owned free‐standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, as well as 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report.