PALO ALTO, Calif., May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- This weekend, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder and advocate of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, hosted a 2-day event aimed at helping make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. Scientists and clinicians, who met to strategize concepts and collaborations on Saturday, were joined by more than 300 philanthropists, celebrities, patients and others in the medical field for the fourth annual LymeAid® on Sunday. The benefit dinner and concert raised more than $815,000, of which 100% will go directly to fund research for Lyme disease. More than 329,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with this potentially debilitating disease.
Diana Ross headlined LymeAid, energizing the enthusiastic crowd with "I Will Survive" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," whose names offered unique relevance for the audience and brought attendees to their feet for an hour of nonstop dancing. Earlier in the evening two other voices also entertained guests with original songs addressing the need to overcome this devastating disease. Kiva, 11, movingly performed his original song "10 Years and 17 Doctors" about his mother's struggle with Lyme disease. Additionally, Sony/ATV singer/songwriter Dana Parish, who dealt with great difficulty being diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease, performed "Pull You Through."
"In trying to combat a disease that is proving more dangerous than previously believed, we are exceedingly grateful for the incredible outpouring of support for our research programs from the science, technology and financial communities," said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
Neil Spector, MD, leading national oncologist, researcher and author of "Gone in a Heartbeat," offered attendees insights into how the challenges of Lyme disease are similar to the challenges of cancer, and informed of the dangers of Lyme with his story of the devastating cardiac effects of this potentially fatal disease.
Sharing a heart-wrenching story about her father's death from Lyme disease and the struggles members of her family face with Lyme disease, Joelle Grove, a California native, joined by her cousin Tyler Albrecht and his wife Dana, who all have Lyme disease, touchingly expressed their gratitude to attendees for supporting research toward making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.
Two up-and-coming researchers were awarded $100,000 grants as part of the weekend's focus on finding solutions to the medical challenges of Lyme disease:
- Britton J. Grasperge, PhD, Louisiana State University, was awarded the Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award to further his research to identify substances within the tick saliva that are responsible for attracting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in an effort to develop a better diagnostic.
- Chase Beisel, PhD, North Carolina State University, was awarded the Laure Woods Emerging Leader Award to explore the potential ability of CRISPR-Cas genome targeting to kill the bacteria that causes Lyme.
The scientists and clinicians who participated in all activities of the weekend included Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board members: John Aucott, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Monica E. Embers, PhD, Tulane University Health Sciences; Christine Green, MD, clinician and Director of Education for International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society; Robert Lane, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Neil Spector, MD, Duke University School of Medicine; William Robinson, MD, PhD, Stanford University.
Other researchers and medical professionals in attendance are also making incredible contributions to Lyme disease research, including Richard Horowitz, MD, author, "How Can I Get Better?"; Dan Salkeld, PhD, Colorado State University; Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, Stanford Lyme Working Group; and Kristen T. Honey, PhD, PMP, Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The White House Executive Office of the President.
Eileen Morgenthaler, Paula Rantz, Carin Rollins and Laure Woods were chairs of LymeAid, which took place in Palo Alto at the private residence of Paula and Michael Rantz.
Honorary Chairs included Jane and Bert Inch; Alexandra and Steven Cohen; Gary Morgenthaler; Sandy and Jim Katzman; Phyllis and Scott Bedford; and Elet Hall, a 2014 American Ninja Warrior finalist and a Lyme disease sufferer.
Notable guests included: Pete and Jon Najarian of CNBC, Larry Page of Google; actress Maria Pitillo; philanthropist couple Amy Rao and Harry Plant; Lee and Diane Brandenburg and Thom Weisel of Weisel Wealth Management.
Event sponsors included: CNBC's Fast Money and Halftime Report, Glodow Nead Communications, LymeLight Foundation, Old World Spirits, and Portola Vineyards, Salesforce.com, Surf Air, TransPak, Whittier Trust, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
About Lyme disease
One of the fastest growing vector-borne infectious diseases in the United States, 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 approximately 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 organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is the leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A 501c3 non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, Bay Area Lyme 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 Foundation covers all 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.
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SOURCE Bay Area Lyme Foundation