PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., announces the recipients of the 2020 Emerging Leader Awards, which are designed to support promising scientists who represent the future of Lyme disease-research leadership. Jacob Lemieux, MD, DPhil of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Artem Rogovskyy, DVM, PhD of Texas A&M University will each receive $100,000 toward the development of novel direct-detection diagnostic approaches for Lyme disease. Both researchers will utilize biological samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, working to accelerate research of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Lyme disease is a potentially disabling infection impacting more than 400,000 Americans each year.
"The value of research proposed by our grant recipients is vital to our mission of making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. In this year of COVID-19, we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue our grant program to fund the important work of these scientists addressing the most crucial requirement for Lyme disease – an accurate diagnostic test," said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
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. Here is an overview of their projects:
Using next-generation and target capture sequencing, Dr. Lemieux, a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard and an infectious disease fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, will develop a sensitive, direct detection diagnostic for early Lyme disease. His project will also utilize samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank and builds on compelling preliminary data and past research funding by Bay Area Lyme.
Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University, Dr. Rogovskyy is working to develop a unique, robust, rapid diagnostic test for Lyme disease with significant improvements in sensitivity and specificity compared to current options. Utilizing samples from the Lyme Disease Biobank, his research will apply a unique spectroscopic technique to explore ways to diagnose disease.
"These grants enlist and support scientists and clinicians who have novel research concepts that we hope will help us solve the problem of Lyme disease," added Wendy Adams, research grant director, Bay Area Lyme. "The progress, determination and commitment of all our awardees continues to inspire us, and we look forward to the data that will come from their research."
Previous Emerging Leader Award recipients have come from institutions including Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University, Stanford University School of Medicine, Tulane University, University of California San Francisco and Yale University. Most of these projects were in the early stages of research upon awarding, and the Emerging Leader Award offered a springboard for scientists to explore the concepts that were later recognized with grants from the government and other established entities, increasing the scope of focus on Lyme disease. Some have been accepted for presentation at well-respected scientific forums.
These awards are presented annually and are awarded to promising scientists who have identified a defined approach to improved diagnostics or therapeutics for Lyme disease. Researchers interested in applying for the 2021 Emerging Leader Award or learning about the other grants that Bay Area Lyme Foundation offers throughout the year should visit https://www.bayarealyme.org/our-research/grant-process/
About Lyme Disease The most common vector-borne infectious disease in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially disabling 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 more than 400,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2018 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, more than 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 organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme 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. A pivotal donation from The LaureL STEM Fund covers overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.