Our 2015-16 Grantees

Global Lyme Alliance researchers are leading the fight against Lyme and tick-borne diseases. We are proud to showcase some of our research grant recipients.

Eva Sapi, Ph.D.

Professor, Department Chair and University Research Scholar, Department of Biology and Environmental Science, University of New Haven, CT
Dr. Sapi's work involves investigating Borrelia as a  biofilm, an aggregated form of bacteria that resists antibiotics, and the detection of Borrelia burgdorferi in human tissues.

“Characterization of Borrelia and other Pathogenic Species in Autopsy Tissues of an Antibiotic-refractory Lyme Disease Case”
Dr. Sapi will conduct a thorough examination of organ tissues to demonstrate conclusively the presence of Bb biofilms in a human subject, whose antemortem diagnosis of Lyme disease fulfilled CDC criteria and Bb DNA PCR.

M. Karen Newell-Rogers, Ph.D.

Professor, Director of Center for Cell Death and Differentiation, Texas A&M University, TX
Dr. Newell-Rogers is engaged in studies of Lyme neuroborreliosis, and uses live imaging techniques to study brain permeability in the mouse model.

“Effects of TLR-2 Activation or Borrelia burgdorferi Infection on Blood Brain Barrier Integrity, Immune Trafficking, and Neuropathology”
Dr. Newell and team are carrying out innovative work using fiber-optics to look in real-time how Bb enters through the blood brain barrier of mice, which will shed light on the mechanism of Lyme infection of the brain in humans. This may help identify future drug targets for treatment of the infection.

Benjamin Luft, M.D.

Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Dr. Luft is on a quest to find better antibiotic therapies for Lyme disease and is currently working on a Lyme disease diagnostic test.

“Multiprotein Recombinant Assay for the Diagnosis of Lyme Disease”
Dr. Luft is working on a Lyme disease diagnostic test using synthesized Bb proteins, that is more sensitive and specific than current tests, and may be effective for diagnosis of both early and late disease stages.

Armin Alaedini

Armin Alaedini, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, NY
Dr. Alaedini’s research has focused on the relevance and role of the body’s immune system in chronic Lyme disease. Individuals who experience chronic Lyme have specific antibodies to parts of the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) surface protein, VIsE, and these antibodies may evolve as disease progresses.

“Immunologic Mechanisms and Biomarkers of Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome”
Dr. Alaedini continues his identification of valuable protein biomarkers of both acute and chronic Lyme disease. Bb antigen changes may elucidate immune system function and treatment endpoint in Lyme disease.

Ying Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Dr. Zhang’s work focuses on drugs that might work against “persisters,” Borrelia that are tolerant to antibiotics, and are able to rebound to start a new wave of infection after antibiotic treatment. He is also involved in the discovery of new antibiotics and understanding their mechanism of action against Lyme bacteria.

“Optimal Drug Combinations Targeting Borrelia burgdorferi Persisters for Improved Treatment of Lyme Disease”
From a large collection of antibiotics from different drug classes, Dr. Zhang will determine optimal drug combinations that eradicate Bb persisters in vitro and test them in vivo in infected mice. He will identify any persisting Bb in mouse necropsy tissues.

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