In 2011 a group of friends and neighbors in Portola Valley, California, became alarmed at the number of people in their community who had Lyme disease. Who knew that the bite of a tick, smaller than a poppy seed, could do so much damage? Why weren’t there better solutions? Why was it hard to get more definitive answers? What started as a series of informal gatherings with local experts quickly evolved into a mission to change the landscape of Lyme disease.

The friends knew from personal experience that Lyme disease could be a debilitating, life-threatening illness — one of them almost died from it. As this group investigated further, they discovered that diagnostic tests were unreliable and that medical research was underfunded by significant amounts. There was also a lot of conflicting information about the risk of infection and how best to treat Lyme disease. The group was determined to make a change.

Leveraging their network, diverse skills and access to Silicon Valley, the group founded Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating breakthroughs for Lyme disease. The mission? To make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, and to make prevention common knowledge.

In just two years, the foundation has funded 16 research projects including an exciting combination therapy headed into clinical trial, endowed an annual Emerging Leader Award to support promising young scientists with novel approaches (and announced the first two recipients), launched several successful public service campaigns, and hosted outreach programs in schools and at local community events.

“We founded Bay Area Lyme Foundation to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. We are collaborating with world-class research organizations like Stanford University, Johns Hopkins, and UCSF to identify novel approaches to eliminate this disease. We are committed to changing the face of Lyme disease and invite you to join us. With your help we can get the answers for Lyme patients here in Northern California and around the globe. This is a fight we can win.”


Bay Area Lyme Foundation Founders from left to right: Gayle Collat, Bonnie Crater, Laure L. Woods, Laird Cagan, Sherry Cagan, Kathleen O’Rourke.