Dr. Charlotte Mao is a pediatric infectious diseases (ID) physician with special focus on Lyme disease and associated infections. She received her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and did her pediatric and infectious disease training at Boston Children’s Hospital.
New Study Finds American Dog Tick Populations Expanding into Colorado, and Identifies Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks in 5 More Counties Than Documented by CDC
Citizen scientists contributing to Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Free Tick Testing program assist in identifying ticks capable of carrying disease in Colorado
Portola Valley, CA, October 25, 2022—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of a study published in the November issue of the peer-reviewed journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases demonstrating that ticks capable of carrying diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and the neurotoxin that causes tick-borne paralysis, pose an emerging threat in Colorado. The results show American dog ticks are very much present in 16 counties in Colorado, where they were not previously identified by the CDC, and Rocky Mountain wood ticks are found in 38 of the 64 Colorado counties, whereas they had only been identified in 33 previously. The study leveraged several sources for the study, including ticks collected by citizen scientists as part of a free tick testing program offered by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
“The critical takeaway from this study is that Coloradans need to take preventative measures against ticks when outdoors, such as tick checks, and doctors should be more vigilant for symptoms of tick-borne diseases including those carried by Rocky Mountain wood ticks and American dog ticks,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “This ecology study illustrates the power of leveraging citizen science, and we are grateful for the more than 20,000 ticks that were submitted to our national program and made this study possible.”
Conducted by researchers from Colorado State University and funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the study aimed to quantify the current county-level distribution of Rocky Mountain wood ticks, Dermacentor andersoni, and American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis. The study evaluated data from ticks collected by citizen scientists and evaluated at Northern Arizona University as part of Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Free Tick Testing program, distribution data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, veterinary surveillance at Oklahoma State University, and literature data.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers $150,000 Grant for Emerging Leaders in Lyme Disease Research
Annual award seeks to attract innovative researchers with a new approach to overcome the challenges of tick-borne diseases
PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., October 19, 2022—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, is announcing a call for entries for their 2023 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), which aim to recognize both established and up-and-coming researchers bringing new approaches and creative thinking to the field of Lyme disease. This year, the Foundation has increased the ELA award to $150,000 for researchers in academia or the private sector who are at the post-doctoral level through associate professor level.
While applicants must have a defined approach to improving diagnostics and therapeutics for Lyme disease, the grants are open to those who have previously worked in Lyme disease research as well as researchers from other therapeutic areas. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2023 at 11:59pm, Pacific Time. The full criteria and application for this award can be found at https://www.bayarealyme.org/our-research/emerging-leader-award/.
“Despite modest increases in government funding, there is still a significant need for ‘out of the box’ ideas pulled from proven scientific approaches in other therapeutic areas,” said Wendy Adams, research grant director Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We fund innovative scientifically-sound research and are seeking driven, rigorous scientists who can help make progress towards developing accurate diagnostic tests and effective therapeutics for various stages of the disease.”
The Emerging Leader Award is designed to support research that will increase the scope of investigation in Lyme disease and help develop better diagnostics and treatments. Bay Area Lyme Foundation encourages researchers to explore novel, scientifically well-founded concepts with potential utility toward that goal. Many ELA recipients have subsequently received grants from other groups including the NIH, as well as continued support from Bay Area Lyme Foundation. The efforts funded by this award are required to generate initial proof of concept within 12-24 months and requires applicants to demonstrate professional and scientific leadership in the biomedical sciences and a strong supporting scientific rationale.
Dr. Edward B. Breitschwerdt is the Melanie S. Steele professor of medicine and infectious diseases at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Microbiologist Amy Proal, PhD, serves as President/CEO of PolyBio Research Foundation and Chief Scientific Officer of the Long Covid Research Initiative (LCRI). Her work examines the molecular mechanisms by which viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens dysregulate human gene expression, immunity, and metabolism. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
“With the lack of government initiative to make Lyme and tick-borne diseases easy to diagnose and simple to cure, it’s up to organizations like Bay Area Lyme and Lyme Disease Biobank to expand our understanding of tick-borne diseases.” –Harrison S., LDB participant
“I participated in the Biobank program because I want to support legitimate science—it’s the compass pointing us in the direction that will lead to better diagnostics and therapeutics for Lyme patients. I am grateful that BAL is funding this critical research which is so sorely needed, and doing it expeditiously. It goes a long way to make up for the five decades of inaction by the CDC and HHS.” – Rebecca W., LDB participant
Over three days in June, the Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) welcomed participants to Gordon Medical Associates, our LDB collection site in San Rafael, CA. Persistent/chronic Lyme patients traveled from as far away as Sacramento, CA, and Reno, NV, to donate blood and urine samples to the Biobank. LDB, a program of Bay Area Lyme Foundation, was founded to ensure an adequate number of samples for researchers investigating Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
The natural law of things is that when there is a vacuum energy moves into that space to fill it up. The vacuum is then no longer a space or hole, it’s a place or an entity where energies from different locations come together and create new things.
So it is with the Lyme disease community: there are multiple nonprofit organizations across the country that have been founded to tackle complex issues in Lyme and tick-borne diseases, and as a result many people with Lyme—and their families—have stepped up to fill a vacuum and taken matters into their own hands.
In the Lyme disease ecosphere—just as in life—we are stronger, more effective, and more impactful when we join together and pull in the same direction, rather than fragmenting our efforts and competing for resources and attention. This was the simple conclusion that Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Project Lyme came to back in 2018, and the two foundations’ partnership has subsequently gone from strength to strength.
“Bay Area Lyme was looking for an East Coast partner to extend our organizational profile and boost our fundraising footprint in a collaborative spirit,” comments Linda Giampa, executive director of Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We had a solid network back east and had conducted a number of speaker events in New York City. We thought that joining forces with the right East Coast group could provide us with important connections, amplify our fundraising, and raise our profile nationally.”
Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, political analyst and author, shares his findings on the state of Lyme research, public perception, and his personal experience with tick-borne infections. Previously he was a senior editor of The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he co-founded the New York Times’s weekly op-ed podcast, The Argument. Ross’s most recent book is about his experience with Lyme disease and is called “The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery”.Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
Dr. Brandon Jutras is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech whose recent diagnostic project on Borrelia’s peptidoglycans was selected for a Bay Area Lyme Foundation 2021 Emerging Leader Award. With over 25 peer reviewed publications in many of science’s top journals, Dr. Jutras is an expert in explaining existing and potential Lyme diagnostics. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
How a chance meeting and the harnessing of big data led to a research initiative that’s finding answers in Lyme and tick-borne disease
Many different groups comprise the Lyme disease community including patients, their families, healthcare providers, researchers and nonprofit organizations. These nonprofit organizations and foundations may differ in size, structure, fiscal basis, focus and approach, but in one important aspect they are united: the search for answers.
This search for answers in the realm of Lyme and tick-borne diseases has served as a unifying driver, even when dissent and controversy has sometimes fragmented the Lyme community. And despite what seems to be a constant uphill battle for recognition and legitimacy of Lyme and tick-borne infections, many believe that we’re on the brink of major breakthroughs to help patients and doctors unlock the medical mysteries that make these infectious diseases so confounding. Two people cautiously optimistic about where we are in the search for answers about Lyme are Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Principal Investigator, Lyme Disease Biobank, and Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, LymeDisease.org and Principal Investigator MyLymeData.