FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016
Foundation demonstrates recruitment of new scientific talent through innovative programs
SILICON VALLEY, Calif., November 28, 2016—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading public nonprofit funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the organization granted $1.75 million in 2016 for Lyme research and education. Over the year, the Foundation continued to demonstrate success in bringing new scientific talent to the fight against tick-borne diseases. The organization highlights the recipients of the 2016 grant cycle, outlines the benefits of the Foundation’s contributions to Lyme Innovation, and announces their national Lyme Disease Biobank.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s grant cycle runs throughout the year and draws applicants from leading university, hospital, and independent research entities all over the United States. Awardees are evaluated on their concepts, ideas, methods, resourcefulness and willingness to collaborate with others in bringing new vision to the field of Lyme disease research.
“It is very rewarding to see esteemed researchers turning their attention to Lyme disease as they realize the great need that exists and the challenge this disease presents,” said Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are honored to continue to bring new talent to understanding this evasive and insidious disease.”
The Bay Area Lyme Foundation 2016 grant recipients include:
- Chase Beisel, PhD, North Carolina State University
- Nichola Garbett, PhD, University of Louisville
- Britton Grasperge, PhD, Louisiana State University
- Emir Hodzic, DVM, PhD, University of California, Davis
- Lee Hood, MD, PhD and Nathan Price, PhD, Institute for Systems Biology
- Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Lyme Disease Biobank
- Richard Horowitz, MD, Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center
- Nate Nieto, PhD, Northern Arizona University
- Lise Nigrovic, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital
- Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, Stanford University
- Nevena Zubcevik, DO, The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness
Several of these researchers, while respected in their scientific areas of focus, had never previously leveraged their knowledge and abilities for research related to Lyme disease. Their foray into the field of Lyme was wholly (or in part) made possible because of the commitment of Bay Area Lyme Foundation to attract new talent to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease.
Chase Beisel, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, is integrating molecular biology, chemical engineering, and mathematical modeling to conduct novel work exploring CRISPR technology as a potential treatment for Lyme infections. Dr. Beisel turned his attention to Lyme disease as a result of a Bay Area Lyme Foundation grant he received as a recipient of the Foundation’s prestigious Emerging Leader Award. Dr. Beisel’s work has also been acknowledged with awards from National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Institute for Health (NIH), among others.
2016 Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award Recipient Britton J. Grasperge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Clinical Pathology, Louisiana State University, is tapping his expertise as a veterinary pathologist to improve diagnostics and potentially therapeutics for the treatment of Lyme disease. Based on a grant from the Foundation, his research is currently focused on gaining a better understanding of how substances within tick saliva may have properties that attract the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
With a strong foundation in basic science, cancer biology, informatics, registry questionnaire design, and biobank planning and operations, Liz Horn, PhD, MBI is now tasked, by Bay Area Lyme Foundation, to use her talents to develop Lyme Disease Biobank, the first and only biobank to provide Lyme disease researchers with blood and urine samples of people living with Lyme disease in multiple regions across the country.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation continues to expand its advisory board to bring additional perspectives to help increase the understanding and awareness of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases across the United States. This year’s additions to the advisory board include:
Dana Parish, a NYC-based SonyATV singer/songwriter whose debut album Uncrushed hit the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, is also a strong advocate for those suffering with Lyme disease, based on her personal experience fighting tick-borne infections. In May 2016, she performed “Pull You Through” at LymeAid, Bay Area Lyme’s annual fundraiser, helping to raise more than $815,000 to fund research for Lyme disease.
Sunjya K. Schweig, MD of the California Center for Functional Medicine (CCFM) is an expert in complex chronic illnesses, and spouse of a chronic Lyme patient. Dr. Schweig utilizes cutting edge diagnostic and treatment modalities, and has been studying, teaching, and practicing integrative and functional medicine for over 20 years.
Mason Tenaglia, an expert in Managed Care strategy development, has been at the forefront of understanding the impact of the Medicare Modernization Act and is a frequent author and speaker on the topic. He is also a member of the Pharmaceutical Executive Editorial Advisory Board.
“It is shocking how many unanswered clinical questions there are, and how much research needs to be done.” Said Mason Tenaglia. “I am excited about the work that Bay Area Lyme Foundation is doing to draw attention to Lyme and help focus research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.”
Among the numerous innovative programs that Bay Area Lyme Foundation has launched and/or continued to support are:
• Lyme Disease BioBank, a Bay Area Lyme project initiated to dramatically increase the volume of quality blood and urine samples of Lyme patients to enable research efforts to accelerate medical breakthroughs in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease as well as co-infections.
• Lyme Innovation, which the Foundation sponsored, and helped conceive and develop, was the first ever Hackathon for Lyme disease, providing a forum for more than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from a variety of disciplines to brainstorm solutions for Lyme disease.
• Emerging Leader Awards, which recognize researchers from other fields of practice, bringing new approaches and creative thinking to the field of Lyme disease. These grants support new and innovative projects and aim to attract aspiring new scientific talent to the field of Lyme.
• In 2016 Bay Area Lyme Foundation hosted more than 40 educational awareness events related to Lyme disease across the country. Among the programs are the quarterly Speaker Series, which bring together researchers and patients in casual settings to discuss the latest findings in Lyme disease, as well as the Educational Outreach program aimed at building awareness among high risk demographic of outdoor educators and state park professionals, such as those involved with the National Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation has received grants and support from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, as well as numerous generous donations from individuals and organizations across the United States. A pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs through 2020, and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs.
About Lyme disease
One of the most common infectious diseases in the country, 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 about 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 nonprofit organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading private sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A national 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley, the Foundation 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. 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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