Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, last month released its roster of 2015 research grant recipients. Collectively these researchers received $1.5 million from the Foundation for research related to Lyme disease, a growing epidemic with more than 329,000 reported new cases each year according to the CDC. The organization also highlights the exponential increase in donations to the Foundation in 2015, including more than $6 million that will go directly to support research over the next few years, and announced the addition of Duke University cancer researcher/physician and Lyme survivor Neil Spector, MD to its Scientific Advisory Board.

”black-legged ticks”, Ixodes scapularis Image/CDC
”black-legged ticks”, Ixodes scapularis

“With so many unanswered scientific questions related to Lyme, it is exciting to be a part of the growing focus on Lyme disease research and increased scientific creativity in approaches to identifying new diagnostics and treatments,” states Linda Giampa, Executive Director.

Exciting Research

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s grant cycle runs throughout the year and draws applicants from leading university, hospital, and independent research entities all over the United States. Awardees are evaluated on their concepts, ideas, methods, resourcefulness and willingness to collaborate with others in the field in bringing new vision into the field of Lyme disease research. The Bay Area Lyme Foundation 2015 grant recipients include the following:

  • John Aucott, MD, Johns Hopkins, Lyme Research Center
  • Alan Barbour, MD, University of California, Irvine
  • John Branda, MD, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Lisa Blum, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Dan Capon, PhD, Blood Systems Research Institute
  • Jerome Bouquet, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
  • Monica Embers, PhD, Tulane University Health Sciences
  • Mark Eshoo, PhD, Ibis Biosciences
  • Lee Hood, MD, PhD, Institute for Systems Biology
  • Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Lyme Disease Biobank
  • T. Charlie Johnson, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Dustin Brisson, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Nate Nieto, PhD, Northern Arizona University
  • Nira Pollock, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, Stanford University
  • Daniel Salkeld, PhD, Colorado State University
  • Mark Soloski, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“We are exceptionally proud of this cohort of grant recipients and the results that we are starting to see from them, as well as the major research centers which are starting to engage in Lyme research,” added Bonnie Crater, Science Committee Chair.

Several studies funded by the organization were published this year, including:

  • Research that shows that loratadine, a common antihistamine frequently taken to treat allergy symptoms, may be able to help kill Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria which causes Lyme disease. This article was published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy and the research was conducted at Stanford School of Medicine.
  • Findings demonstrating diversity of microorganisms in California ticks, including the discovery of a novel tick-borne microorganism and the identification of a Babesia species that has not previously been found in ticks. Published in September in PLOS ONE.
  • Examination of ticks in the Bay Area reveals greater diversity of bacteria than expected and may help explain why Lyme disease symptoms vary widely among Bay Area patients. The study, which was published in PLOS ONE, also showed that rates of tick infection with Borrelia miyamotoi are found to be higher in some places in the Bay Area than previously documented on the East Coast.

Increased Financial Support

Bay Area Lyme Foundation secured a $6.5 million grant from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and $5 million from the Laurel Foundation. The Laurel Foundation grant was provided by Ms. Laure Woods as an extension to the $5 million she donated in 2012 which was used to cover all start-up costs, overhead costs and initial research grants for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. This pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs which allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research programs.

Expanding Advisory Board

“As a survivor of the life-threatening cardiac consequences of Lyme disease and a physician-scientist involved in cancer research and drug development, I am excited to work with the Bay Area Lyme Foundation to identify cutting edge research,” Said Neil Spector, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University, who joined the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board this year. “I am honored to be working with this incredible group of professionals who are as dedicated to improving the lives of patients as I am.”

Dr. Spector is one of the country’s top oncologists, whose personal near-death struggle with Lyme disease is the subject of his 2015 book, Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician’s Search for True Healing.

About Lyme disease

One of the most common infectious diseases in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating 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 nonprofit organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading private sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A national 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley, the 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. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit or call us at 650-530-2439.