• Press Release

Mount Sinai and Genetic Disease Foundation Celebrate “Food For Life” Program to Help Kids Manage Inherited Metabolic Diseases

  • (July 03, 2014)

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.

For more information or to make a donation, visit the Food for Life program online.  And for digital video “b-roll” and interviews with program staff and patient families, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeZKmvQUKME&feature=youtu.be.

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

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.