The Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Awards (ELA) recognize both established and up-and-coming researchers 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. Candidate applications must include a viable proposal for a proof-of-concept project to be funded, in part or in sum, by the grant award.

$100,000 ELA Grants

In 2022, the Foundation will be offering at least two $100,000 ELA grants to researchers in academia or the private sector who are currently at the post-doctoral level through assistant professor level or equivalent. Those who have not previously worked in Lyme disease research are also encouraged to apply. Applicants must have identified a defined approach to improving diagnostics or therapeutics for Lyme disease. Important criteria include demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and a strong supporting scientific rationale for the project. Research efforts funded by this award are required to generate initial proof of concept within 12–18 months.

Selection Process

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2022 Emerging Leader Awards. For 2023, we will solicit applications starting in November 2022. Please check back here later for more information.

You can access information on our year round grant process here.

For more information or questions about our grants, please contact the foundation offices at or call  650.530.2439.

Who Qualifies?

  • Affiliated with an academic or research institution in the U.S. or corporate equivalent
  • Demonstrated professional and scientific leadership in biological and medical sciences
  • Exhibited scientific curiosity and an established pattern of creative thinking
  • A defined approach to improved diagnostics or therapies for Lyme disease

Evaluation Criteria

  • Potential for research to lead to a novel therapy or diagnostic for Lyme disease
  • Scientific rationale supporting the application (perhaps validated in another field)
  • Applicant’s track record for project execution
  • Support from Principal Investigator and affiliated institution
  • Co-investigators will be considered on a case by case basis but may not be for more than 33% of the total grant amount
  • Timeline: Application shows sufficient potential to generate initial proof of concept within 12–18 months for the $100,000 award 

2021 ELA Winners

We were pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Emerging Leader Awards, which were designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease-research leadership.

This year the Emerging Leader Awards were made possible through the generosity of a coalition of three family foundations who believe in the creative nature of bringing researchers from other disciplines into the field of Lyme disease.

$250,000 ELA Grant

Michael P. Rout, PhD
Michael P. Rout PhD, Bay Area Lyme Emerging Leader Award recipientProfessor and Head of Laboratory, Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology, The Rockefeller University

Dr. Michael Rout is a Professor and Head of Laboratory, Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology at the Rockefeller University.  Dr. Rout is interested in how proteins assemble to form the dynamic assemblies comprising cells, and in the nature of diseases associated with alterations in those assemblies. He has focused on the nuclear pore complex, and by systematically developing and applying structural and interactomic approaches, he and his colleagues have computed three-dimensional maps of its architecture, sufficient to resolve its molecular organization and provide insights into how it transports macromolecules between the nucleus and cytoplasm.

Dr. Rout has formed the National Center for Dynamic Interactome Research, which includes several collaborating laboratories at Rockefeller and other institutions. This center is developing the methodologies required to obtain a comprehensive map of protein interactions within any organism, and to study their dynamic behaviors. This will allow researchers to explore the utility of the technology for functional elucidation of complex biological processes, with a strong focus on infectious disease.

Dr. Rout earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from University of Cambridge and has B.A. and M.A degrees in zoology.

He received $250,000 for his work with nanobodies to develop a sensitive point-of-care diagnostic. Dr. Rout and colleagues are investigating nanobodies, a class of small antibody-like molecules derived from llamas and related species, for potential use in rapid point-of-care diagnostics or as therapeutics. For his ELA project, he will be developing nanobodies with high affinity and avidity to Borrelia proteins that can be developed into sensitive Lyme Disease diagnostic tests.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Brandon Jutras, PhD
Brandon Jutras, PhD, Bay Area Lyme Emerging Leader Award recipientAssistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech

Dr. Brandon Jutras is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech. He is also part of the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens, the Molecular and Cellular Biology program, in addition to the Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health program at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Jutras has focused his entire research career on studying the biology and pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi. With over 25 peer reviewed publications in many of science’s top journals, Dr. Jutras uses a diverse array of atomic, molecular, and cellular tools to diagnose, understand, and treat Lyme disease. His approach challenges paradigms in bacterial physiology and his research group leverages their findings to improve the overall welfare of humans and animals.

He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the College of Medicine at University of Kentucky.

He received $100,000 toward the development of a novel direct-detection diagnostic approach for Lyme disease. Based on past research in Lyme disease pathogenesis, Dr. Jutras is working to develop a novel diagnostic that can detect peptidoglycan, a component that makes up the cell wall of bacteria, as a biomarker for acute Lyme disease.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Nitya Ramadoss, PhD
Nitya Ramadoss, PhD, Bay Area Lyme Emerging Leader Award recipientResearch Scientist, Stanford University

Dr. Ramadoss is currently a Research Scientist at Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. William Robinson. Her research focuses on mapping the transcriptional landscapes and B cell receptor repertoires of Borrelia burgdorferi antigen-specific B cells in individuals that suffer from Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), in an effort to understand why some people return to health after antibiotic treatment post-Borrelia infection, while others do not.

Dr. Ramadoss earned a MSc in Chemical Biology from University of Leeds and a PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Microbiology from the Pennsylvania State University. She then went on to complete her postdoctoral studies at both the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr at Scripps Research), and Stanford University.

Dr. Ramadoss received $100,000 toward the development of a novel therapeutic based on B-cell mapping.  Her ELA project is focused on the mechanisms underlying protective and pathogenic immune responses in Lyme disease. The goal of her research is to support the development candidate monoclonal antibody therapeutics to promote clearance of Borrelia burgdorferi infections and prevent development of Persistent Lyme Disease (PLD).


Previous Honorees

2020 ELA Winners

The research projects of the two 2020 $100,000 Emerging Leader Award recipients both aim to improve the accuracy of Lyme disease tests, and each researcher shares more details about their project on the newly-launched Bay Area Lyme Ticktective™ podcast. Click here to listen to the podcasts and subscribe on your preferred podcast app or click here to watch the video versions.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Jacob Lemieux, MD, D.Phil.
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Harvard University
Dr. Jacob Lemieux is a post-doctoral researcher in the Sabeti Lab at Harvard University and an infectious disease fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He holds a B.S. from Stanford University, a D.Phil. in molecular parasitology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and member of the NIH-Oxford Graduate Partnership Program, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

As an active infectious disease clinician, Dr. Lemieux cares for patients with a variety of infectious diseases. The goal of his research is to improve the care of patients with tick-borne disease by advancing our understanding of fundamental disease mechanisms and developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

His diagnostic project was selected for the 2020 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. For a description of his current Lyme research, click here.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD, DACVM
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Dr. Artem Rogovskyy is currently an Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.  He received his Ph.D. in Veterinary Science from Washington State University, his M.S. in Food Science at Louisiana State University, and his D.V.M. in Veterinary Medicine from National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine.

At Texas A&M, his current research laboratory has a long-term goal to develop effective measures aimed at reducing incidence of Lyme disease in the United States and worldwide.  To achieve this goal, Dr. Rogovskyy’s lab has prioritized three areas of Lyme disease research. The first is to develop a robust, rapid diagnostic test that would surpass any of the existing Lyme disease diagnostic assays in its sensitivity and specificity. This is the focus of his 2020 Emerging Leader Award. The second line of research is to construct a subunit vaccine for humans that would be not only efficacious at preventing different genospecies of B. burgdorferi but also exert a therapeutic effect during the human infection. The third is to understand how microbial symbionts affect the tick fitness and competency of Ixodes ticks, the vector of B. burgdorferi, with the ultimate aim of developing novel methods that would disrupt the life cycle of Lyme pathogen in nature.

His diagnostic project was selected for the 2020 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. For a description of his current Lyme research, click here.

2019 ELA Winners

In 2019, thanks to the generous contributions from Laure Woods and Marc Benioff, Bay Area Lyme Foundation presented two ELA awards totaling $200,000 in project grants to bring innovative projects to proof-of-concept.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Andrea Granados, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
Andrea Granados, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. She has a background in epidemiology, molecular biology, virology, and diagnostics.  Dr. Granados earned her BSc and MSc degrees from McMaster University and her PhD in Laboratory Medicine from University of Toronto, Canada. Her project was selected for the 2019 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. Click here for project details.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Geetha Parthasarathy, PhD
Research Scientist, Tulane University
Dr. Geetha Parthasarathy is a Research Scientist at Tulane University. Her current research focus is Lyme Neuroborreliosis where she seeks to understand the pathogenesis behind glial and neuronal cell death as caused by B. burgdorferi.  She earned her BS and MSc degrees from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, India, her PhD in Microbiology from Michigan State University and completed Postdoctoral fellowship work at Johns Hopkins University. Her project was selected for the 2019 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. Click here for project details.

2018 ELA Winners

In 2018, thanks to the generous contributions from The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Bay Area Lyme Foundation presented four ELA awards totaling $450,000 in project grants to bring innovative projects to proof-of-concept.

$250,000 ELA Grant

Ting Wu, PhD: 2018 Emerging Leader Award Recipient ($250,000 grant)
Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School; Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics; Director of the Personal Genetics Education Project
Dr. Ting Wu’s laboratory is dedicated to expanding our understanding of genome structure and function, focusing most heavily on the extraordinary relationship of the three-dimensional organization of the genome to genome inheritance and activity. Dr. Wu is the recipient of an NIH Director’s 2012 Pioneer Award as well as an NIH Director’s 2016 Transformative Research Award. Her project was selected for the 2018 Emerging Leader Award, a $250,000 grant. Click here for project details.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Steven Phillips, MD: 2018 Emerging Leader Award Recipient ($100,000 grant)
Principal Investigator for Kyronyx Biosciences
A world-renowned expert on zoonotic infections, Dr. Phillips has treated over 20,000 patients from over 20 countries. He is well-published in the peer-reviewed medical literature, acclaimed for his work in linking chronic diseases, and specializes in the management of stealth pathogens, which include Lyme disease, bartonellosis, babesiosis, and other vector-borne diseases. He is currently involved in drug development to bring public a durable and effective treatment for this infection and change the face of rheumatology forever. His project, detailed below, was selected for the 2018 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. Click here for project details.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Michal Caspi Tal, PhD: 2018 Emerging Leader Award Recipient ($100,000 grant)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University
Dr. Michal Tal, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, leads the infectious disease team within Irving Weissman’s lab at Stanford University. She is studying the immunomodulatory mechanisms by which the CD47-SIRPa axis impacts immune clearance of infectious disease. She is interested in the mechanisms of immune regulation that rein in the immune response and can be targeted to enable clearance of chronic infection. Her project, detailed below, was selected for the 2018 Emerging Leader Award, a $100,000 grant. Click here for project details.

2017 ELA Winners

Bay Area Lyme Foundation was pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Emerging Leader Awards. Thanks to the generous contributions from The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, we presented two ELA awards totaling $350,000 in project grants to bring innovative projects to proof-of-concept.

$250,000 ELA Grant

James J. Collins, PhD
Core Faculty, Wyss Institute, Harvard University; Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science; Professor of Biological Engineering, MIT

Dr. Collins and his lab work in 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. Professor Collins’s patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has received numerous awards and honors, including a Rhodes Scholarship and a MacArthur “Genius” Award. Professor Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He received his AB in Physics at Holy Cross, where he was valedictorian, and his PhD in Medical Engineering at Oxford.

Project Overview
Dr. Collins’s ELA project focuses on highly sensitive, paper-based, direct detection RNA-based diagnostics for Borrelia burgdorferi and early Lyme disease. The amount of borrelial RNA in a blood sample of a patient with Lyme is likely to be present in much larger quantities than the DNA, making direct detection of the pathogen easier. His lab recently developed a platform for direct detection of RNA that combines programmable molecular sensors called RNA toehold switches with an expression system that can be freeze dried onto paper discs. Toehold switch sensors are synthetic regulators that control the translation of a gene, and these can be designed to bind and sense any RNA sequence.

$100,000 ELA Grant

Yuko Nakajima, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Brandeis University

Dr. Nakajima is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of James E. Haber at Brandeis. Prior to beginning her Borrelia burgdorferi research, her work investigated the relationship between DNA damage and spindle assembly checkpoints during cell division. She also performed postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University and served as a research assistant at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Nakajima received her BS in Biological Sciences from Purdue University and her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.

Project Overview
Dr. Nakajima’s ELA project focuses on outsmarting smart bugs by blocking immune evasion by Borrelia burgdoferi and other pathogens through gene conversion. Just like in cancer, gene conversion was recently shown to be instrumental in Borrelia burgdoferi’s ability to change its surface proteins and thus keep the immune system from manufacturing antibodies that match the currently expressed proteins. This ability to change its proteins is mediated by an unusual DNA structure called a G-quadruplex. A drug blocking G-quadruplex activity in cancer cells is currently in clinical trials. Dr. Nakajima will study the G-quadruplex in Borrelia burgdorferi and then test different small molecules to detect which may be most able to block this coping mechanism.

2016 ELA Recipients

Bay Area Lyme Foundation presents the winners of the 2016 Emerging Leader Awards. Thanks to the generous contributions from The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and The Laurel Foundation, we presented two ELA awards with each recipient receiving a $100,000 project grant to bring an innovative project to proof-of-concept.

Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award

Britton J. Grasperge, PhD

Assistant Professor—Clinical Pathology, Louisiana State University


Laure Woods Emerging Leader Award

Chase L. Beisel, PhD

Scientist, Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research


2015 ELA Recipients

John Branda_ELA Award RecipientJohn A. Branda, MD

Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School and Assistant Pathologist, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Associate Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at MGH and Director of the Clinical Laboratory at Nantucket Cottage Hospital

Nira Pollock, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Associate Medical Director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital


2014 ELA Recipients

Jerome Bouquet Jerome F. Bouquet, PhD

A postdoctoral fellow at University of California, San Francisco for his project: Development of a Host Biomarker Assay for the Diagnosis of Acute Lyme Disease and Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome


Lisa BlumLisa K. Blum, PhD

A postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University for her project: Sequencing of Antibody Responses to Borrelia burgdorferi Infection—Generation of Recombinant Antibodies with Diagnostic and Therapeutic Utility