Incorporated on March 26, 1953, AAFA was first called the "American Foundation for Allergic Diseases," by three leading allergists who wanted to created an organization to raise funds for advancing educational activities and research. Later, it was named, the "American Allergy Foundation," during the immediate post-war period. At its birth, AAFA was jointly supported by the American Academy of Allergy and the American College of Allergists.
In the 1960s, the Foundation underwent its first name change, becoming the Allergy Foundation of America. During the 1970s, in recognition of the important immunological aspects of asthma, its frequent interplay with allergies, and the important role of the allergist in diagnosing and treating this disease, the Foundation changed its name to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Headquartered in New York City from 1953 through 1980, AAFA moved its base of operations to Washington, DC in 1981. The move recognized the need to further nationalize the scope of its influence, as well as the growing importance of government-sponsored research in allergy and immunologic diseases.
During its early years, leadership for the Foundation included luminaries of the allergy-immunology scientific community of the time, including Drs. Theodore Squire, J. Warrick Thomas, Bret Ratnew, Robert Cooke, Elvin Kabat, Alfred Gilman, Merrill Chase, Leonard Karel, Frank Dixon, and Marion Sulzberger. In the following decades another distinguished allergist, Dr. Sheldon Siegel, joined the board and served a long and outstanding tenure as the Foundation president. In 1980 AAFA began to blossom into a more patient-centered -- not physician-centered -- service organization and several non-physicians joined AAFA's leadership team, including Barabara H. Layman of Pennsylvania and John Wynne, Esq. Of Washington, DC.
Through the 80s and 90s AAFA continued to strive to achieve its mission to improve the quality of life for people with asthma and allergies and their caregivers, through education, advocacy and research. Today, AAFA provides practical information, community based services, support and referrals through a national network of chapters and educational support groups. AAFA also sponsors research toward better treatments and a cure for asthma and allergic diseases.