Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2017 Raises $850,000 to Boost Lyme Disease Research

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Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid 2017 Raises $850,000 to Boost Lyme Disease Research

The event highlights the increasing level of scientific commitment toward Lyme disease and fosters much-needed investment and research in diagnostics and treatments for the disease

Portola Valley, CA (May 22, 2016) – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients for the fifth annual LymeAid®, an event aimed at making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.  The benefit dinner and concert raised more than $850,000, of which 100% will go directly to fund research for Lyme disease. During the past 5 years, the event has collectively raised $2.4 million specifically for Lyme disease research.

National Lyme BioBank: Enabling a New Wave of Lyme Research

nldb-bannerThe national Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) launched in Summer 2014 after a successful Fund-A-Need campaign at our annual LymeAid benefit. This initiative, which began with a pilot study in East Hampton, NY, a highly concentrated endemic area for Lyme disease, was designed to help address the shortage of clinical samples to support research into better diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease. The goal is to create a geographically diverse and robust pool of biological samples (particularly blood, but also tissue and other fluids) characterized with sufficient clinical data and validation information about any co-infections that can then be drawn upon by researchers around the country, allowing for more projects to come to fruition. The biobank has already expanded significantly and released the first samples to researchers last year, supporting a new wave of projects.

Liz HornLiz Horn, PhD, MBI, a noted expert experienced in building complex biorepositories and other bio-based technological solutions working with a wide array of researchers, institutions, and other agencies, was brought on as the Principal Investigator for the LDB. Dr. Horn has deep expertise in basic science, cancer biology, bioinformatics, registry questionnaire design, and biobank planning and operations.

We talked with Dr. Horn about the progress they have been making at the Lyme Disease Biobank.

Tell us about the Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB). Why is a biobank an important undertaking, particularly for the field of Lyme research?

“The Lyme Disease Biobank is a collection of human biological samples that catalyzes and facilitates research in Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. We are collecting blood samples from people with suspected acute Lyme disease presenting with or without an erythema migrans (EM) or annular rash (cases) and also unaffected individuals (Lyme disease negative controls).

“Researchers lack the samples they need for their work in Lyme disease. Especially for early, acute cases, patients typically present at the emergency room, urgent care, or to a family physician. These patients typically are not presenting at academic medical centers – the places where there is a lot of research happening. It’s more challenging to collect samples in these research facilities. Plus, most researchers are focused on doing the research, not setting up collaborations to collect samples, which can be time-consuming, complicated, and laborious.

When Non-Profits Invest Like Venture Capitalists

The following post is the second in a series of articles by Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, for Money Inc.

The first article can be found here on our site or at Money Inc.

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Last month, Linda offered five steps that have had a positive impact on the success of Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  Over the next several months, she is offering a closer look at each of these steps

For years, venture capitalists and non-profit organizations were seen as polar opposites, the antithesis of one another.  But, as non-profit leaders, we can learn a great deal from our venture capitalist counterparts. Venture capitalists aim to ensure the companies they fund succeed, and our role as non-profits is to ensure our mission is accomplished. Both are conduits entrusted with investing the financial resources of others – venture capitalists are beholden to their investors while nonprofits have the same responsibility to their donors.

Participating in Clinical Research: Another Treatment Alternative?

Lyme disease, particularly with chronic or late-stage symptoms, can be a horribly frustrating and debilitating illness. Symptoms can persist despite complicated treatment regimens; therapies that seem successful at first may become less effective over time; and medications that work for some appear to have no effect for others. Add to that the high cost of treatment, the complicating challenges of co-infections, and insufficient insurance coverage for both traditional and alternative treatment, and it quickly becomes apparent why clinical studies offer potential for patients who are still suffering.

For many patients, the promise of participating in a clinical trial is not just the hope for new discoveries but a more immediate opportunity to access treatment options they may not otherwise be able to secure or afford. But is clinical research the “holy grail” for these patients who are seeking another option? What are the pros and cons of clinical research? What do you need to know?

Teaching the Teachers: Spreading the Word about Lyme Disease

Bay Area Lyme at 2017 Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators Annual Conference in La Honda, CA

Spreading awareness about Lyme and tick-borne infections among high-risk groups has been a key objective for our growing education outreach program at Bay Area Lyme Foundation and the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (AEOE) has been part of our overall education outreach strategy. For the last three years, Bay Area Lyme has attended AEOE’s annual spring conference, raising awareness about Lyme and teaching professional naturalists, outdoor educators, and science teachers how to protect both themselves and the children they serve against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Treating Lyme Disease: A Functional and Integrative Medicine Approach

On Wednesday, March 8, Dr. Sunjya Schweig and his wife, Lia Gaertner, together gave a deeply affecting and informative presentation sharing their personal and professional experiences with Lyme disease. The talk was part of the ongoing Distinguished Speaker Series. What follows is a synopsis of some of the highlights.

Lia Gaertner sharing her story with a full room at the speaker series event in Berkeley, CA.

Lia Gaertner, a member of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Science Committee, and Dr. Schweig, who is on the foundation’s Advisory Board, bring a wealth of professional expertise and knowledge to the table. But their story starts on a personal note, for it was just one month after Dr. Schweig started working in private practice that Lia — after 10 years of battling serious illness, unexplained symptoms, and debilitating physical and mental challenges — was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease. Together, the couple took what they describe wryly as a “rapid descent together down a rabbit hole” – a deep dive into Lyme, trying to learn as much as possible for their survival.

The Top 5 Secrets of Successful Nonprofits


The following post is a reprint of an article by Linda Giampa, Executive Director for Bay Area Lyme Foundation, for Money Inc.

The article is the first in a series where she shares her observations having made the transition from for profit technology to the nonprofit world here at Bay Area Lyme.

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While the high-tech business sector is so fast-paced that every day offers valuable progress, my days as CEO in this industry still left me wanting to do more.  As many of you can appreciate, I longed to truly make a difference in the lives of other people.  And although I did get incredible satisfaction from our company’s progress, I wanted my contribution to society to be more than helping to improve the speed and efficiency of the business world.

So, I decided to make a major life change.

As I considered a range of non-profit opportunities, I focused on identifying a role that would allow me to continue the fast-pace I was used to.  It was also important that I use the leadership, operations, marketing and sales skills I had learned and honed through years climbing the ranks of Oracle and helping to start and run several other software companies.

The Challenges of Lyme Disease Reporting: Critical Consequences for California

Wendy AdamsLyme disease is a nationally notifiable disease, recognized and tracked by the federal government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for surveillance purposes. Surveillance data provides important information for assessing public health risks and allocating research dollars. Per the CDC, “The goal of Lyme disease surveillance is not to capture every case, but to systematically gather and analyze public health data in a way that enables public health officials to look for trends and take actions to reduce disease and improve public health.” However, these statistics have important implications for individual patients as well.

In this post, Bay Area Lyme Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member Wendy Adams discusses some important changes to the CDC definitions of Lyme disease and some concerning implications for patients in the state of California.

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In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published an updated Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) 2017 Case Definition. Lyme disease case definitions have been published since 1995, and the previous definition was published in 2011. The CDC actually is not responsible for this definition; instead it is the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) that is responsible for Lyme disease surveillance.  Each state has its own State Epidemiologist (see info about CA here). Despite being a federal agency, the CDC can offer input on these definitions but the CSTE is not obligated to accept those suggestions.

The case definition for Lyme disease is only intended to be used to determine cases for surveillance purposes and not to represent the full incidence of Lyme in a given area.  However, this subtlety is often confusing for doctors who see these low case numbers as proof that they do not need to consider a Lyme diagnosis in CA.  The low numbers also are convenient for insurance companies who inappropriately use this narrow definition as diagnostic criteria to deny coverage for patients whose cases don’t meet the definition.

It’s All In Your Head. …Or is it? A Physician’s Perspective

It’s All In Your Head. …Or is it?
A Physician’s Perspective

Guest post: Dr. Elena Frid, MD

This week, we feature a guest post from Dr. Elena Frid, a board-certified NYC neurologist and specialist in Lyme disease and other vector-borne diseases. Dr. Frid has been recognized by her peers and patients for her innovative diagnostic methods and treatment regiments for a wide array of complex neuro-Lyme manifestations which often mimic other illnesses including multiple sclerosis (MS), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), various learning disabilities, Autism, Arthritis, Lupus, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinsons, anxiety/depression, intractable headaches, dizziness, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) behavior, ticks and many more. Here, she shares her perspective on the complexities of treating these complex illnesses.

Over the years, I have seen numerous patients who complain of many neurologic and psychiatric conditions. Often, when a patient complains of more than one or two problems, many physicians can get overwhelmed. It is difficult to treat a patient who seems to have a multitude of problems that, at first glance, may not appear to be related. Part of the issue is that medicine is moving in the direction of treating symptoms, and not the underlying cause of the problem.

Going Outside to Play with Abandon…

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSharane Dorrah is on a mission …  A passionate hiker, mountain biker, skier, and general outdoors enthusiast who suffered years of debilitating illness due to the unfortunate bite of a Lyme-infected tick, Sharane is determined to ensure that the rest of the world avoid her nightmare through greater awareness and protection.

The company she launched this past year, Peskys, offers fashionable performance activewear instilled with an EPA-approved insect repellent to ward off a wide range of “pesky” bugs that can carry serious diseases.  Sharane explains, “Sounds dramatic, I know… [but] I’m on a mission to save lives by giving a fashionable option for protection against bites from those pesky bugs that can carry not only Lyme, but also Zika, West Nile, and all those other ‘bug diseases.’ I’m opening my big mouth and creating awareness. And I’m donating protective clothing and other items to children because they are the most at risk for some of these diseases.”

Sharane’s tactics are intriguing. Certainly the spread and the number of serious diseases like Lyme, Zika, and West Nile have forced the issue into the minds of more people; and yet, apprehension or lack of enthusiasm about the preventive tools available — such as chemical sprays, seemingly excessive coverup or avoidance tactics, etc. — mean that far too many of us who love the outdoors remain at risk. Enter this new concept: “performance apparel reinvented into sophisticated style options that meet the demands of day-to-day urban and outdoor active living. Pesky’s insect repellent apparel options perform equally well on the hiking trail as they do pool-side, at the farmer’s market, or in the backyard. They’ll ward off the worst of the season’s mosquitoes and ticks, but they do it without sacrificing style.”