Annie Brewster is an Assistant Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, a writer and a storyteller. She is also a patient, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001. In response to the disconnection she experienced in healthcare, both as a patient and a provider, and motivated by her belief in the power of stories, she started recording patient narratives in 2010. Integrating her personal experiences with the research supporting the health benefits of narrative, she founded Health Story Collaborative (HSC) in 2013. HSC is dedicated to helping individuals navigating health challenges find meaning, and ultimately heal, through storytelling. She is excited by interdisciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations that break through resistance to change. She is widely published in the press and is author of The Healing Power of Storytelling: Using Personal Narrative to Navigate Illness, Trauma, and Loss (2022).
Lindsay Christensen is the author of the book, “The Lyme Disease 30-Day Meal Plan: Healthy Recipes and Lifestyle Tips to Ease Symptoms”. She provides nutrition consulting services at the California Center for Functional Medicine and her private practice, Ascent to Health.
Dr. Steven Harris, a physician specializing in Lyme at Pacific Frontier Medical, was guest speaker as part of our Distinguished Speaker Series. His presentation on the complexity of tick-borne diseases is transcribed below to share his invaluable insights into novel treatment options for those living with chronic/persistent Lyme and other intractable infections that severely curtail patients’ quality of life, bringing hope and restoring health to many. Note: This transcribed presentation has been edited for clarity.
What is “Precision Medicine”?
“The concept of precision medicine, which is a growing area, is where we look at an individual and try to create a tailored plan for that person. I think many doctors wish that we could have a ‘cookbook’ approach to medicine that would work for our patients. But unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work. Luckily, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are doctors offering precision medicine including Dr. Sunjya Schweig in Berkeley, Dr. Christine Green, with us at Pacific Frontier Medical, and Dr. Eric Gordon, at Gordon Medical Associates in Marin and others. And thankfully, we have Stanford and UCSF (our local medical centers) that we work peripherally with. In addition, the Open Medicine Foundation is making great strides in understanding illness and Dr. Mike Snyder’s group at Stanford who are working on multi omics for chronic fatigue that track an individual patient’s data.
“These doctors are working in their own fields, not necessarily just tick-borne diseases, but our work overlaps. For example, the Snyder Lab multi-omic study involves genomics, epigenomics, metabolomics, where they are looking at tons of data and assimilating a lot of this different data to try to create treatment plans that work for the individual, because of the fact that a ‘cookbook’ approach doesn’t work for this group of chronic complex patients. For example, we look at someone’s multi-ome and the parts that make them up, including their microbiome, epigenome among many others, which is becoming a bigger and more exciting field. One of the practical aspects we try to determine is how to address an individual’s level of inflammation, the diversity of their personal bacterial flora, and how to help compensate for any deficiencies—or over abundances—that help contribute to disease.
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. Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig.
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.Ticktective Video and Podcast Editor: Kiva Schweig. Click here for this podcast transcript.
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. Click here for this podcast transcript.
A new type of Lyme disease test aimed at early-stage infection detection is hitting doctors’ offices, and we all should thank Lyme patients for making this happen. This test named T-Detect Lyme™, was recently unveiled by Adaptive Biotechnologies, and is an advanced indirect-detection blood test that allows for detection of an acute Lyme infection earlier than antibody response tests.
Our Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) and Dr. John Aucott’s SLICE Lab at Johns Hopkins University provided the Lyme patient blood samples for Adaptive’s new T-Detect Lyme™ test development. The LDB, a program of Bay Area Lyme, was created in 2014 and began collecting patient samples in 2015 specifically to drive this form of diagnostic innovation. By engaging Lyme patients and providing well-characterized samples to approved researchers and partnering with innovative organizations like Adaptive, the LDB research engine is now delivering long-planned-for results.
“This breakthrough from Adaptive validates the power of patient-driven research. Without the participation of patients who gave blood to our Lyme Disease Biobank, this impactful new test could not have been developed,” commented Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We wish to thank all the patients who came forward to participate in this important program and to encourage others to give samples.”
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.