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

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Announces Winners of “Lyme Innovation” Hackathon at White House Event

White House Acknowledges Contributions of Program Organizers
Toward Solving Challenges of Lyme Disease

(Cambridge, MA,) October 5, 2016 — As part of the White House Open Data Innovation Summit, 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, announces the winning teams of Lyme Innovation.  Lyme Innovation is the first ever Hackathon for Lyme disease, which provided a forum for more than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from a variety of disciplines to brainstorm solutions for this potentially devastating disease.

The White House confirmed the benefits of the program in a statement about the Summit, highlighting “Lyme Innovation helps solve challenges in prevention and treatment of Lyme disease.”

The winning Lyme Innovation teams, all of which demonstrated creativity and brought together diverse talents to offer potential solutions to challenges faced by the Lyme disease community, were honored at the Summit.  These consisted of:

First Place – $25,000 – A team of scientists, who named themselves G-Quad, are researching a novel therapeutic drug that is currently in clinical trials for cancer for use in Lyme disease.  They are investigating if this therapeutic is able to block the Lyme bacteria from changing its DNA so that the immune system can recognize the pathogen more quickly. The team came together to collaborate during the June event in Boston and is led by Yuko Nakajima, a post-doctoral researcher at Brandeis University.

Second Place – $10,000 – Team LymeDot initially came together for the Lyme Innovation event that took place at University of California, Berkeley, led by Shannon Herline, a MBA candidate at the university and including Shannon’s twin sister who lives with Lyme disease in North Carolina.  They are developing a tracking system for patients to record their symptoms vital signs and response to treatment to assist physicians in better understanding which therapy is providing the most benefit.

Third Place – $7,500 – TextLyme devised a patient powered platform to combat isolation, depression and suicidal feelings among Lyme patients, as studies show that approximately one third of Lyme disease patients experience depression during their disease.  Their project taps into the already existing Crisis Text Line, a service for people who are suicidal. This team is led by Kerry Lang, mental health counselor, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, and consists of other health professionals, as well as communications experts and technology specialists.

“The creativity of the Lyme Innovation winners and their participation in this Summit exemplifies the importance of collaboration and value of diverse skills in the battle against Lyme disease,” said Wendy Adams, Advisory Board and Science Committee, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  “Our hope is that the seeds planted with Lyme Innovation will continue to inspire greater focus on solving the challenges of Lyme disease.”

“Bringing new talent and encouraging collaboration centered around open data initiatives has the ability to make a profound impact in 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.

About Lyme Innovation
Lyme Innovation aims to solve critical prevention, diagnostic, and treatment and rehabilitation challenges facing the Lyme disease field by bringing together diverse researchers and scientists at a series of hackathons in April and June 2016. This effort is led by the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network/Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is a collaborative effort by the VA Center for Innovation, MIT Hacking Medicine, UC Berkeley, Open Medicine Institute, and is sponsored by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  Presentations can be found at http://www.facebook.com/lymeinnovation.  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 published 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, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.

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Contact:
Tara DiMilia
Phone: 908-884-7024
Tara.DiMilia@tmstrat.com

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