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Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Finalists of “Lyme Innovation” Hackathon

Event brings together research from other therapeutic areas and disciplines to collaborate in development of solutions

Cambridge, MA, June 24, 2016 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, collaborating with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of California, Berkeley, and the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, today announced the five finalists of Lyme Innovation, the first ever Hackathon for Lyme disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from several US states registered for this event to brainstorm solutions for Lyme disease, a potentially devastating condition newly infecting 329,000 people each year.

“Collaboration is the key to solving the myriad of challenges of Lyme disease, and we were excited to have the participation of so many researchers new to Lyme research,” said Wendy Adams, Science Committee, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  “It has been exciting to see such a wide range of expertise and enthusiasm come together to focus on solutions for this serious disease.”

Several prominent speakers, advocates, and experts representing several partnering organizations spoke to inform and inspire participants. Kristen T. Honey, PhD, PMP, Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy of The White House Executive Office of the President, was the keynote speaker at the event.  David Maron, Chief of Biostatistics, Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, as well as a number of Lyme disease patients — including Yolanda Hadid who hosted a video-conference from California, — also encouraged participants.

“Holding a Lyme disease hackathon was critical in order to accelerate innovation and research and to develop a longer and more diverse pipeline of scientist and entrepreneurs dedicated to expediting solutions in the field of Lyme disease,” said Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, Lyme Innovation lead, Clinical Co-Director of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, and an Instructor at the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medical and Rehabilitation.

Finalists each received $5,000 and the opportunity to compete for additional grants. Lyme Innovation will present awards to the final three teams at the White House Open Data Summit on September 28th.

Over the three days of Lyme Innovation, nearly 100 participants formed sixteen teams to tackle the top ten Lyme disease priorities, which were identified by attendees at the American Academy of Advancement of Science conference taking place in November 2015. The projects selected for funding focused on:

  • Identification of novel treatment targets for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease utilizing theUniversity of Massachusetts Plant Cell Culture Library
  • Research of a compound, currently in clinical trials for cancer, which could block the bacteria from changing its DNA so that the immune system can recognize and respond to the pathogen
  • A tracking system for patients to record their symptoms and vital signs to assist physicians in better understand how each patient responds to treatment
  • A patient-powered platform to combat the isolation and depression patients experience that taps into the Crisis Text Line, a platform to reduce suicides
  • A tracking tool capable of predicting risk of Lyme disease to humans based on research showing that canine infection rates are predictive of human risk

Recognition awards were also given to teams in the areas of public health, prevention, education, and diagnostics.

Speakers, mentors and judges included:

  • Wendy Adams, Science Committee, Bay Area Lyme Foundation
  • John N. Aucott, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Director, Johns Hopkins Rheumatology Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center
  • Caitlin Blood, MPH, CHES, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • David Crandell, MD, Clinical Co-Director of the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/ Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medical and Rehabilitation
  • Monica E. Embers, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Bacteriology and Parasitology, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University Health Sciences
  • Kevin M. Esvelt, PhD, Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab, Leader, Sculpting Evolution Group,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Christine Green, MD, President and Chief Physician, Greenoaks Medical Center
  • Kristen T. Honey, PhD, PMP, Policy Advisor, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Andreas Kogelnik, MD, PhD, President and Founder of the Open Medicine Institute
  • Elizabeth Lewandrowski, PHD, MPF, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
  • Lance Liotta MD, PhD, Medical Director Clinical Proteomics, Co-Director and Founder Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, George Mason University
  • Sahar S. Mahshid, M.Sc, PhD, Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Pharmaceutical Science,University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Davide Marini, PhD, Technology entrepreneur with experience in life sciences and engineering
  • Chris Przybyszewski, Co-Founder, Executive Vice President, Board Director, US BIOLOGIC
  • Sam Telford, MS, SD, Professor of Infectious Disease and Global Health, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
  • Rueben Lee Sims, Disabled United States Vietnam Veteran and Lyme Disease Advocate
  • Jordan Smith, Environmental Journalist and Narrative Nonfiction Writer
  • Neil Spector, MD, Sandra Coates Associate Professor of Medicine, and Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine
  • Anthony Walsh, PhD, Associate at RA Capital Management
  • Nevena Zubcevik, DO, MSPT, Clinical Co-Director of the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Instructor at Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medical and Rehabilitation

Presentations can be found at  Follow Lyme Innovation on Twitter @lymeinnovation.

About Lyme disease
One of the fastest growing vector-borne infectious diseases in the United States, Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are approximately 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US.  A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge.  A pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, or call us at 650-530-2439.

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