LDA Advisory Board Biographies
Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center
Columbia University Medical Center
Director, Center for the Study of Neuroinflammatory Disorders & Biobehavioral Medicine, New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York, NY
Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH. Dr. Fallon is director of the Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center where he leads a team focused on biomarkers, diagnostics and treatment of chronic Lyme symptoms. His team’s recent work has included the testing of novel diagnostic assays in a large community study, with the net result of the identification of a more sensitive Lyme Western blot. His team’s work on Lyme encephalopathy led to the discovery of hundreds of unique proteins present in the CSF of Lyme patients but not in the CSF of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome or healthy controls. His team’s current focus is on clarifying the immunologic profile and neural circuitry of patients with persistent symptoms. His team is also investigating the CNS metabolic effects of intravenous ceftriaxone using MR Spectroscopy to probe glutamatergic transmission. Dr. Dwork in his Center is examining the neuropathologic findings in post-mortem studies of patients with chronic Lyme symptoms. Dr. Moeller in his Center is examining the interaction between peripheral immunologic markers, central immune markers, and brain neurocircuitry among patients with chronic symptoms with the goal of identifying of biomarkers to help guide treatment recommendations.
Dr. Fallon serves on the editorial and review board of three journals, has lectured and published widely, and most recently has led an international team for the American Psychiatric Association’s revision of DSM-5 to clarify the prevalence of illness anxiety in the general population.
Nick Harris, PhD
Immunology; Past President, IGeneX Reference Labs; Board of Directors, ILADS; Board of Directors, LymeDisease.org (formerly CALDA); Diplomate, American Board of Medical Laboratory ImmunologyPalo Alto, CA
Dr. Nick Harris is a board certified Immunologist and is the past President and CEO of IGeneX Reference Laboratory, which he founded in 1991. Dr. Harris did his undergraduate training at University of Wisconsin and his graduate training in Anatomy and Immunology at the Medical Center, University of Illinois. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in Surgery under Dr’s Najarian and Good in Transplantation Immunology at the University of Minnesota. Following that he was an Associate Professor of Surgery and Biochemistry and Chief of Transplant Immunology at the University of Texas at Galveston. He developed the first human plasma cell line and donated it to ATCC (American Tissue Culture Collection). In 1977, he moved on to Bioscience Laboratories, Los Angeles, to head the Immunology Department. Following that he joined 3M Diagnostic Systems as the Technical Director and Headed Product Support, Clinical Studies, Asian Business Development and the Reference Laboratory. Dr. Harris has six patents, over a 100 formal publications in Immunology and Lyme Disease and three book chapters. He was one of the founders of ILADS in 1999 with Dr’s MacKnight, Burrascano, and Phillips and is an active member of multiple societies. He is on the board of directors of CALDA and the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society.
Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer of LymeDisease.org, a nationwide non-profit that publishes the only print journal dedicated to Lyme disease, maintains a national network of state-based internet groups, and funds research. LymeDisease.org also engages the patient community in patient-participatory research through broad scale surveys. LymeDisease.org’s survey of Lyme patients regarding access to care and burden of illness drew over 4,000 responses and was published in Health Policy.
She is the Co-Chair of the steering committee of Consumers United for Evidence-Based Healthcare, a nationwide coalition of consumer groups associated with the Cochrane Collaboration. She serves as a consumer peer reviewer for Cochrane Collaboration evidence-based protocols and reviews. She is also a member of the international Cochrane Consumer Network and presented to this group at the Cochrane Colloquium on the topic of “Evidence Based Medicine: Evidence, Evidence Gaps and the Role of Stakeholders”.
She is an attorney advocate on issues related to the medico-legal and ethical aspects of Lyme disease and evidence-based healthcare. She has published over 30 articles in peer reviewed journals on these topics. She earned her JD from Loyola University and an MBA from USC. She has spoken at universities, before state legislatures, the US Centers for Diseases Control, at the Canadian government consensus hearings on Lyme disease, before medical societies, at the IDSA guideline review hearing and at the Cochrane Collaboration (CCNET). She is a director and an officer of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. She also serves on the advisory committee of the national Lyme Disease Association.
Dr. Kenneth Liegner is a Board Certified Internist with additional training in Pathology and Critical Care Medicine, practicing in Pawling, New York. He has been actively involved in diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and related disorders since 1988. He has published articles on Lyme disease in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has presented poster abstracts and talks at national and international conferences on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. He is the author of In the Crucible of Chronic Lyme Disease, a documentational history of the struggle to characterize the nature of Lyme disease in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
He has cared for many persons seriously ill with chronic and neurologic Lyme disease. His work has focused on the serious morbidity and (occasional) mortality that can eventuate from this aspect of the illness. He has emphasized the urgent need for widespread clinical availability of improved methods of diagnostic testing and for development of improved methods of treatment for Lyme disease in all its stages. He holds the first United States patent issued proposing application of acaricide to deer for area-wide control of deer-tick populations as a means of reducing the incidence of Lyme disease.
Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA
Private practice of psychiatry in Red Bank, NJ; Associate Clinical Professor at Rutgers-RWJ School of Medicine; board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA is in the private practice of psychiatry in Red Bank, NJ, an Associate Clinical Professor at Rutgers-RWJ School of Medicine and Past President of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation. Dr Bransfield is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He earned his medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC and completed a residency in psychiatry at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. Dr. Bransfield has an interest in healthcare policy and the association between infections, psychoimmunology and mental illness. He has authored a number of publications in peer-reviewed literature, other medical publications, and books; has presented at numerous medical conferences, both nationally and internationally, and has appeared on network and regional television and radio.
James L. Occi, MS, MA, PhD (in progress)
Center for Vector Biology, Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Research/Teaching Specialist, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark
James (Jim) Occi is a microbiologist who has been involved in searching for new antibiotic entities for almost 30 years. He has done research in big pharma for over 20 years and continues this endeavor as a research microbiologist at New Jersey Medical School in the Department of Emerging Pathogens (Newark). Jim is pursuing his PhD at Rutgers University at the Center for Vector Biology (New Brunswick) and wants to be a medical entomologist when he grows up. For his thesis, Jim is studying tick-borne diseases in New Jersey tick populations under the direction of Dr. Dina Fonseca. He has a BS and MA in Biology from Montclair State University and an MS in Microbiology from Seton Hall University.
He has been working on two projects at University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark. One project involves developing an assay for small-molecule inhibitors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis within macrophages. A second project utilizes a relatively safe surrogate of Rickettsia rickettsii, R. canadensis, in the hopes of developing an assay to look for small molecular weight inhibitors of rickettsia. Recently, he was involved in a major drug discovery program using small molecule inhibitors against species of Francisella, Yersinia, Bacillus, Burkholderia, Staphylococcus, Brucella and Legionella, designed and developed an assay to detect Yersinia pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis YOP proteins. He just enrolled in the graduate Entomology Program at Rutgers. His first project will be looking at the prevalence of rickettsia in American dog ticks in New Jersey.
Much of his experience was learned as a Research Microbiologist at Merck Research Labs where he was involved in many different drug-discovery programs in the search for new antibiotics. Many projects required skills in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry.
While at Merck he was instrumental in bringing a promising thiazol-peptide antibacterial compound to pre-clinical status. Involved in strain development of the producing organism as well as determining mechanism of resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. He also developed an assay that led to the discovery novel thiazol-peptide antibacterials, and assisted natural product chemists in identifying novel structures.
His expertise in tick-borne diseases began as a MS thesis where he was involved in collecting and indentifying ticks and analyzing them for infectious agents by PCR and fluorescent antibody. As an offshoot of this work, he developed a seminar for the lay public as well as health-care professionals and lectured extensively throughout the state for years. He has consulted for many groups and is on the scientific advisory board for the Lyme Disease Association.
Dorothy M. Pietrucha, MD is Board Certified in pediatrics, pediatric neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities. She is affiliated with Jersey Shore University Medical Center, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. She received her MD from University of Medicine and Dentistry Medical School. Her specialties are Pediatric Neurology and Neurodevelopmental disabilities and she practices at the Child Evaluation Center in Neptune, New Jersey.
Director of Student Personnel and Community Services, Jackson Schools (Ret.)
Administration Learning Consultant
Calais School, NJ
Al Tagliabue has served for over forty years as a teacher, coach, child study team member, and school administrator. As a teacher, he taught various types of special education classes age ranges seven through twenty-one. As a coach, he developed nationally ranked football teams on the college level and numerous individual state champions in track on the secondary level. As a learning consultant on the child study team, he evaluated over one thousand students from age two and one half through age twenty-one. As an administrator, he directed Special Services and Special Education in Boonton, and Carteret. He served as the Director of Student Personnel Community Services for the Jackson Township Schools in the 1990’s where he became associated with the New Jersey Lyme Disease Association and later with Lyme Disease Association, Inc. He holds two Masters of Education degrees, one in special education and one in educational administration and supervision. Presently, he continues to serve as an educational consultant and student advocate.
Marylynn Barkley, MD, PhD
Endocrinology Researcher, Section of Neurology, Physiology, & Behavior and Emeritus Professor, University of California, Davis, CA
Allison DeLong, MS (Applied Mathematics), MS (Applied Statistics)
Biostatistician & Core Care Coordinator
Bio Med Statistical Sciences
Center for Statistical Sciences
Brown Publich Health Program
Brown University, RI
Robert Dyson, CPA
Director, Professional Practices Group, Marks Paneth & Shron LLP
New York, NY
Stephen A. Sheller, Esq.
Sheller, Ludwig & Sheller, Attorneys at Law, Philadelphia, PA