More than 75 years of supporting practicing allergists, advancing the specialty.

ACAAI's History

The American College of Allergists was officially incorporated as a legal entity on November 23, 1942. The American College of Allergists, the precursor organization of our current American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, was founded by a group of men and women passionate about the field of allergy and immunology as a distinct specialty. In 1974, the American Board of Allergy and Immunology was established, designating our specialty, and it remains the only allergy specialty board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

In 1992, ACAAI then-President Joseph A. Bellanti, M.D. gave a special historical address commemorating the 50th anniversary of the College (ACAAI). His detailed and illuminating presidential address was later published in its entirety, in this 1993 Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology article (members only).

In 2012, we celebrated our organization’s 70th anniversary and reflected on how the past not only reminds us of where we have been, but where we have yet to go. At the 2012 Annual Meeting, Dr. Bellanti presented The ACAAI: A 70 year Legacy of Accomplishments (1942-2012). Part II Events and Achievements (1992-2012), which was published in a 2012 Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology article (members only).

Celebrating 75 Years

Did you know that the College turned 75 years in 2017? And you can rest assured this septuagenarian is still going, stronger than ever!

In celebration, we highlighted pieces of our rich history in our publications and on our website. Want to catch up on any you missed and get the scoop on what the College has been up to for three quarters of a century?

The Gold-Headed Cane Award

The Gold-Headed Cane Award is a concept used by many medical schools and some specialty societies to recognize a physician who symbolizes the pursuit of the highest standards of scientific excellence and integrity to make the master doctor.  The existence of such an honor should serve as inspiration to the younger doctor and encourage him/her in family, social, civic, religious, and professional life to cultivate those essentials of character to secure the respect and good will of colleagues and the profession at large.   The original Gold-Headed Cane was carried by the personal physician of the King of England, from 1689 to 1823.  Each owner of the cane specifically chose a successor considered to be the greatest English physician of that time. These physicians were: Dr. John Radcliffe (1689-1714), Dr. Richard Mead (1714-1754), Dr. Anthony Askey (1754-1774), Dr. William Pitcairn (1774-1791), and Dr. Matthew Baillie (1791-1823). The widow of the last doctor gave the illustrious cane to the Royal College of Physicians in London, where it remains today.

Interestingly enough, the first doctor – the originator starting the tradition in 1628 – Dr. John Radcliffe took care of King William III, an asthmatic, for thirteen years.  Dr. Radcliffe’s care is credited for allowing his king to lead in victorious battles at the Bourne, in spite of asthma.  Therefore, we have good historical precedence since the first cane was held by a healer of asthma.

The ACAAI installed this award as a tradition in 2001, with Dr. Hal Nelson as its first recipient.

Celebrating 80 Years

In 2022, the ACAAI Archives Committee undertook the opportunity to add the most recent ten years of the College’s history (2012-2022) in a third article to the trilogy of history articles.

  • The first 50 years. Part 1 (1942-1992)
    Bellanti JA. Proud of the past. Planning for the future. Ann Allergy. part 1. 1993 Jun.70(6).445-61.
  • The next 20 years. Part 2 (1992-2012)
    Bellanti JA. The ACAAI. A 70-year legacy of accomplishments (1942-2012), part 2. Events and achievements (1992-2012). Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Apr.110(4).223-7.
  • The next 10 years: Part 3 (2012-2022)
    Bellanti JA, Lanier BQ, Ein D, et al. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: An 80-year legacy of accomplishments (1942-2022), part 3: Events and achievements (2012-2022). Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2022 Oct;129(4):528-534.