PORTOLA VALLEY, CA — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients at the top of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for the seventh annual LymeAid, an event aimed at raising funds to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. The event was the largest non-profit fundraising event held on the 61st floor of the Tower, and $1M was raised, of which 100 percent will go directly to fund scientific research, education and prevention programs for Lyme disease.
“It takes a community to solve a problem as big as Lyme, and it is wonderful to see such a powerful community here tonight to support Lyme research and the work of Bay Area Lyme Foundation,” said Jeff Bridges, actor, singer, producer and composer. Bridges entertained at LymeAid, and paid tribute to his friend Kris Kristofferson who was misdiagnosed several times before receiving an accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease, and is now on the road to recovery.
Guest speakers at LymeAid 2019 helped to reinforce the devastating impact of Lyme disease. Among them were Steven Phillips, MD, a Yale-educated internist who is a leader in the field of vector-borne diseases and recipient of the 2018 Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award grant, and Dana Parish, SONY/ATV singer-songwriter, who was saved by Dr. Phillips when she suffered Lyme-induced heart failure in 2015. Together, they have become a force in the world of Lyme disease, and are co-authoring a book about the vector-borne disease pandemic.
“The energy of this year’s event was unparalleled. As we gathered in the majestic room called Ohana, a word that means ‘intentional family,’ we all felt the importance of the tick-borne disease research for patients around the world, who have become family, and together, as we work to eradicate Lyme disease,” remarked Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are invigorated in our battle, and honored to host scientists and researchers whose efforts are funded through events such as LymeAid, and whose daily focus is the search for breakthroughs to solve the challenges of Lyme disease.”
During the event, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation announced the recipients of the 2019 Emerging Leader Awards (ELA), a grant designed to be a catalyst for future research. Geetha Parthasarathy, PhD, Tulane University, received the Laure Woods ELA Award, and Andrea Granados, PhD, UCSF School of Medicine, received the Marc Benioff ELA Award, each accompanied by a $100,000 grant. Dr. Parthasarathy’s project will focus on the development of novel therapeutics. Specifically, she will evaluate fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors as possible therapeutic approaches in Lyme neuroborreliosis. Dr. Granados’ efforts will focus on developing a diagnostic test for early Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections based on differential gene response, and direct pathogen detection.
Wendy Adams, Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s research grant director, discussed how this research can potentially impact the millions of people who are sick with tick-borne diseases, and the hundreds of thousands who are newly-infected each year.
Local singer Teal Collins, pianist Nathan Bickart, and the band T Sisters also entertained attendees with their musical talents throughout the evening. Guests included Kris Newby, author of the upcoming book “Bitten” as well as Kristen Honey, Office of Innovation at the Department of Health and Human Services, and hero airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
Multiple Bay Area Lyme Foundation research projects are supported by funds raised at LymeAid each year, with the focus of the 2019 “Fund-a-Need” being the free tick testing citizen-science program, which aims to better understand the ecology of ticks.
All of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board members, who gathered earlier in the day for a collaborative scientific session, participated in LymeAid: John Aucott, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, UCSF; Monica Embers, PhD, Tulane University; Donna Felsenstein, MD, Mass. General Hospital; Christine Green, MD, clinician; Nate Nieto, PhD, Northern Arizona State University; Steven Phillips, MD, clinician; William Robinson, MD, PhD, Stanford University; Sunjya K. Schweig, MD, and Irving Weissman, MD, Stanford University.
Kris Farrey, Arlene Inch, Jane Inch, Carolyn Margiotti, Kathleen O’Rourke, Jennie Savage, Julia Shaw, Kirsten Stein, and Laure Woods were the chairs of LymeAid 2019.
Honorary hosts included: Wendy Adams, Phyllis and Scott Bedford, Marc Benioff, Chris Buja, Bonnie Crater, Malcolm and Emily Fairbairn, Daryl Hall, Dr. Richard Horowitz, The Inch Family, Scott Johnson, The Mair Family, Eileen and Gary Morgenthaler, Susan and Gib Myers, Harry Plant and Amy Rao, Pete Rukavina, Jane Seymour, Jack Sheridan, Josh Stein and Mason Tenaglia.
Platinum event sponsors included: RA Capital and Cooley, Gold event sponsors included: Salesforce, Whittier Trust, Surf Air, and Latham & Watkins LLP. Other event sponsors included: Halftime Report, GPS Connections, McCalls Catering & Events, Thor Audio Solutions, Alter Eco, Sir Francis Drake, and Old World Spirits.
About Lyme disease
One of the most common infectious diseases 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 about 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. And, this number is rising annually as 427,430 new Lyme cases are believed to have occurred in the US alone in 2017. 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 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 Foundation 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.