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Bay Area Lyme Foundation Now Accepting Applications for $450,000 in Emerging Leader Award Research Grants

‘Emerging Leader Award’ aims to attract new scientific talent to address challenges of Lyme disease

Portola Valley, California, December 5, 2017—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced a call for applications for three Bay Area Lyme Foundation ‘Emerging Leader Award’ grants, one for $250,000 and the other two for $100,000. These awards will be given to promising scientists who embody the future of leadership in Lyme disease research in the US. The award recipients will be researchers in academia or the private sector who have demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and who can offer scientific rationale for a research project that can advance diagnostics or treatments for Lyme disease.

“As a growing body of literature demonstrates the evasive nature of B. burgdorferi, we need creative scientific thinking to overcome the challenges that the bacteria presents. We hope this award spurs incentive for researchers to consider novel approaches to improve currently inadequate diagnostics and therapeutics,” states Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

BAL’s $250,000 ELA grant targets veteran scientific talent with the title of associate professor or above who have not previously worked in Lyme disease research but are able to apply their work in other fields to therapeutics or diagnostics in Lyme disease. Applicants must be at a US academic institution or corporate equivalent and propose to undertake research efforts which generates initial proof of concept within 18-24 months.

The $100,000 ELA grant is offered to researchers in academia or the private sector who are currently at the post-doctoral level through the assistant professor level, or equivalent, and have identified a defined approach to improving diagnostics or therapies for Lyme disease. Proof of concept for the $100,000 awards should be feasible in 12–18 months.

These awards, along with other Bay Area Lyme Foundation efforts, aims to fill a gap in Lyme research funding as National Institutes of Health funding for Lyme disease research is insufficient. While there are six times as many people diagnosed in the US each year with Lyme than HIV, Lyme disease receives less than 1% of the public funding that is allocated for HIV/AIDS.

Previous Emerging Leader Award recipients include:

James J. Collins, PhD Core Faculty, Wyss Institute, Harvard University; Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science; Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Collins work centers around synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defense mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance. Dr. Collins was awarded the Emerging Leader Award in 2017 to research a direct detection RNA diagnostic for early Lyme disease,

Yuko Nakajima, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Brandeis University.  Dr. Nakajima is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of James E. Haber at Brandeis. Dr. Nakajima received the Emerging Leader Award in 2017 to investigate potential treatments to block immune evasion by the bacteria causing Lyme disease. Prior to beginning her Borrelia burgdorferi research, her work investigated the relationship between DNA damage and spindle assembly checkpoints during cell division.

Britton J. Grasperge, PhD, Louisiana State University. Dr. Grasperge is working to identify substances within the tick saliva that are responsible for attracting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in an effort to develop a better diagnostic.

  • Chase Beisel, PhD, Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University. Dr. Beisel is exploring the potential ability of CRISPR-Cas genome targeting to kill the bacteria that causes Lyme.
  • Lisa K. Blum, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Blum is researching an immune response to Lyme disease that has the potential to help elucidate why some people have short-term symptoms from a Lyme infection and why others become chronically ill, as well as the hope of leading to the development of an improved diagnostic and/or therapeutic.
  • Jerome F. M. Bouquet, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Bouquet is researching potential “biomarkers” that will allow for the development of a clinical diagnostic for both acute and post-treatment Lyme disease.
  • John Branda, MD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School and Assistant Pathologist, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Dr. Branda’s research focuses on improving patient care through the development of new diagnostic strategies and the optimization of laboratory tests and antimicrobial agents, including tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme borreliosis, anaplasmosis, and tularemia.
  • Nira Pollack, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Medical Director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pollock’s research has a special interest on the development and evaluation of novel diagnostic tests for infectious diseases and related applications. Her Lyme-related work has included the discovery of novel biomarkers of early Lyme borreliosis.

Applications will be accepted from researchers throughout the United States through February 28, 2018.  Announcements of Awards will be made during Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s annual LymeAid™ fundraising event in May 2018. The full criteria and application for this award can be found at

About Lyme disease
One of the most common infectious diseases in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling 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 organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public foundation sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US.  A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme 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. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund 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 or call us at 650-530-2439.

Tara DiMilia
Phone: 908-369-7168


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