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Jeffrey Modell Foundation Opens Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center



Grant from Baxter Supports Primary Immunodeficiency Diagnosis and Patient Access to Care


NEW ORLEANS, December 1, 2006 – Today, the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF), together with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, celebrated the opening of the Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center.  The diagnostic center is one of only 30 of its kind in the world, focusing on the diagnosis, care, and treatment of people suffering with Primary Immunodeficiency (PI).  Primary Immunodeficiency is a term that encompasses more than 120 diseases caused by an immune system that does not function properly.

“We are thrilled with the support from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and with Baxter.” said Fred Modell, Co-founder of the JMF.  “Experts have estimated that as many as 500,000 cases of PI remain undiagnosed in the United States, and our goal is to give every child a chance to lead a healthy, normal life.”    

A recent survey of the Jeffrey Modell Centers shows they are, in fact, fulfilling that promise.  Survey results reveal that throughout a two-year period, there was a 79 percent average annual increase in the number of patients diagnosed with PI, and a 58% increase in the number of PI patients receiving treatment.  PI affects males and females of all ages, but the most severe forms are frequently detected in childhood.  Primary Immunodeficiency can often present in the form of common illnesses such as sinus infections, pneumonia, ear infections, and bronchitis.  For this reason, families and doctors are often unaware that the troubling conditions that they are dealing with are actually rooted in a defect in the immune system and treat the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause. Failure to diagnose and treat PI can lead to serious chronic illness, permanent organ damage to health, or even death.       

“Early recognition and diagnosis of PI can save lives and improve the health outcomes for these patients,” said Ricardo Sorensen, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. “The educational and diagnostic programs made possible through this support will be vital to the establishment of a center of excellence for diagnosis and treatment of patients with PI, and will provide cutting edge research and diagnostic opportunities not only to New Orleans, but to colleagues in Latin America and the Caribbean as well.”

Vicki Modell, co-Founder, JMF, also touched on the great significance of the Center’s pivotal location.  “The children of New Orleans and their families have faced the devastation of Katrina, and have bravely expended so much of their energies to rebuild their lives.  In particular, the children with PI have shown to all of us an unimaginable courage.  These children need our help now, more than ever before, and this a community that deserves our support more than any other place that Fred and I have visited.”      

“The JMF’s unwavering dedication to the early diagnosis and treatment of PI is evident through their many very successful endeavors, the most recent being the opening of this modern diagnostic facility at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center,” said Larry Guiheen, President of Biopharmaceuticals for Baxter’s BioScience business. “Baxter is proud to collaborate with JMF and LSU to launch this Center, in an effort to increase awareness and improve the lives of so many patients with PI.  We look forward to seeing the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center recognized as a first-class Center of Excellence.”           

Baxter provided an unrestricted grant to the JMF.  Baxter and the JMF are long-standing partners in the effort to raise awareness and increase diagnosis of PI globally.  In addition to establishing diagnostic centers around the world, Baxter and JMF have in the past collaborated to raise PI awareness in the U.S. and Europe.

About Jeffrey Modell Foundation        

The Jeffrey Modell Foundation was established in 1987 by Vicki and Fred Modell in memory of their son Jeffrey, who died at the age of 15 of a PI disease. The Foundation is dedicated to early and precise diagnosis, meaningful treatments, and ultimately cures of primary immunodeficiencies. More information on PI can be found at or by calling the JMF hotline at 1-866-INFO-4-PI.

About The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center 

LSU Health Sciences Center at New Orleans comprises a unique complement of health sciences schools encompassing every major discipline of health care in the United States today. Its six professional schools educate the majority of Louisiana’s health care professionals.  Louisiana’s flagship academic health center, LSUHSC comprises a medical school, the state’s only school of dentistry, Louisiana’s only public School of Public Health, and schools of allied health professions, nursing, and graduate studies. LSUHSC faculty, residents, and students take care of Louisianians, including the medically indigent and under-served, in hospitals and clinics throughout Louisiana. LSUHSC has an annual economic impact in excess of $1 billion and is in the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena.

LSUHSC faculty continued to care for their patients during and following Katrina, which decimated LSUHSC’s New Orleans campuses, and to provide immediate and continuing outreach services. LSUHSC resumed its educational and research enterprises on temporary campuses in Baton Rouge less than four weeks after the storm, and is now back in New Orleans with the exception of the dental school which will return next year. LSUHSC leadership continues to work with federal, state, and local agencies to rebuild Louisiana’s health infrastructure.


About Baxter

Baxter Healthcare Corporation is the principal U.S. operating subsidiary of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX). Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, assists healthcare professionals and their patients with treatment of complex medical conditions, including cancer, hemophilia, immune disorders, kidney disease and trauma. The company applies its expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to make a meaningful difference in patients’ lives.  For more information about Baxter, please visit


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