It is that time of year when we reflect and take stock of all that’s happened over the past 12 months – the highs and the highlights and what it portends for the year ahead. As we quickly approach the close of 2014, we are proud of the progress that has been made and grateful to all those who helped create greater awareness, understanding, and discovery around Lyme disease, its agents, and its progression. It has been a year of collaboration and innovation across the research field with promising developments for new treatments and diagnostics
Elet Hall is nothing short of a marvel. This amazing athlete is a four-time competitor on American Ninja Warrior, where he is known as “The Natural” for his seemingly effortless runs. The first two years he successfully made it to the Las Vegas finals despite suffering from undiagnosed Lyme disease. Shortly after the 2013 finals, he woke up one day with facial paralysis and his joints and limbs numbed with fatigue. After being diagnosed and successfully treated for Lyme disease, he again returned in 2014 to triumph in his third attempt at the competition. After dominating Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the national finals, Elet finally succumbed to the floating doors in Stage 3, coming in 2nd place in his third attempt at the competition.
This year, Elet again returned to the ANW stage, with a dominating “run of the night” at the 2015 Pittsburgh Qualifiers. (Check out Elet’s facebook page for the video!) and then headed to the Pittsburgh City Finals on August 10th. At the finals, Elet had a tough run, narrowly surviving a missed grab on the monkey bars before finally slipping on the last few doorknobs. Even with the surprising fall, however, Hall still was among the fastest finalists, qualifying him to move on to Las Vegas for the national finals and the battle for a $1 million grand prize. [Read here for more about the August finals.) Unfortunately it was not Elet’s year to walk away with the grand prize but we will be rooting for him in next year’s competition!!
Here in a November 2014 excerpt from a longer story on our Faces of Lyme feature, he shares some perspective about the challenges of fighting Lyme disease as an athlete:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Clinicians, Researchers Gather in Boston to Discuss Science of Lyme Disease — Conference Unites Lyme Disease Research Community
Boston, MA — A national scientific conference entitled “Lyme Borreliosis and Tick-Borne Illnesses: Diagnostics, Emerging Pathogens and Avenues for New Research,” brought a broad range of researchers and clinicians to Boston November 8 and 9 to discuss tick-borne diseases, share emerging ideas and knowledge, and assess the most promising avenues for research into the future. Held at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the conference drew more than 200 people from across the country and around the world intent on collaborating through the power of science to find answers to some of the most complex and often-misunderstood diseases. The two-day forum, to which the Bay Area Lyme Foundation provided an unrestricted educational grant, also featured the presentation of awards recognizing several scientists for their contributions to the understanding and treatment of Lyme disease.
Lisa Blum is an enterprising young scientist and postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine, working in the lab of Dr. Bill Robinson. Earlier this year she was recognized as a Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader and received a $100,000 project grant. Here she talks about her research, life at Stanford, and the impact of the award.
Q: Earlier this year, your project, “Sequencing of Antibody Responses to Borrelia burgdorferi Infection — Generation of Recombinant Antibodies with Diagnostic and Therapeutic Utility” helped earn you recognition as a Bay Area Lyme Emerging Leader. Tell us about your project and what you hope to accomplish.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system that protect us from infections, but in some cases the antibodies themselves can damage the human body. Our goal is to characterize antibodies produced during different stages of Lyme disease, and to generate monoclonal antibodies that can be used to improve on existing Lyme disease treatments and diagnosis.