Ben Mamoun, Choukri

BenMamounChoukri Ben Mamoun, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Internal Medicine & Department of Microbial Pathogenesis
Section of Infectious Diseases
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, CT

Targeting the Achilles Heel of Babesia Parasites’ Mode of Survival Within Human Red Blood Cells

Choukri Ben Mamoun is an Associate Professor at Yale with a primary appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis. He received his PhD in 1996 in Molecular Microbiology in France from University of Paris XI and Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon. In 1996, he joined the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University as a Research Fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and in 2000 became a faculty member at University of Connecticut Health Center. In 2009, he joined the faculty at the Yale School of Medicine as a Principal Investigator with a focus on the biology and therapy of the protozoan parasites that cause human malaria and babesiosis.

Dr. Ben Mamoun has authored 78 peer-reviewed papers in the field of eukaryotic pathogenesis. Among his important findings in the malaria field are: the development of selectable markers for genetic manipulation of P. falciparum (Mamoun et al., PNAS 1999), discovery of a novel metabolic pathway for lipid metabolism in P. falciparum (Pessi et al, PNAS 2004), creation of the first conditional knockouts of P. falciparum lacking the purine transporter or phosphoethanolamine methyltransferase (El Bissati et al., PNAS 2006 and Witola et al., JBC 2007), discovery of lipid regulation as a critical step in P. falciparum sexual differentiation (Bobenchik et al., PNAS 2013). His notable findings in the babesiosis field are: Discovery of a new combination therapy consisting of atovaquone and endochin-like quinolone (ELQ-334) for radical cure of babesiosis infection in mice (Lawres et al., J. Exp. Med, 2016) and the development of a new diagnostic test for detection of B. microti active infection (Thekkiniath et al., J. Clin. Microb. 2018).

Dr. Ben Mamoun has served as a member or chair of several NIH and DOD study sections and other international organizations. He has served on the editorial board of several research journals, presented seminars and lectures both nationally and internationally and received multiple awards including the Patterson Award, the Burroughs Welcome Award and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award.

In addition to his academic program, Dr. Ben Mamoun is the founder of a biotech company, ELIV5 Therapeutics.

Conference Lecture Summary

Since the completion of the assembly and annotation of the genome of the human pathogen Babesia microti, my laboratory has been involved in the development of novel approaches to detect active babesia infection and discovery of more effective therapies to treat human babesiosis. In this lecture, I will present new data showing that B. microti uses a novel mechanism for delivery of proteins into the host, and how we exploited this information to develop a highly sensitive assay for detection of B. microti active infection in human and mouse blood. Furthermore, I will present our recent discovery of a new combination therapy that targets a critical step in B. microti metabolism during its development within mouse and human red blood cells and results in radical cure of the disease.

Flegr, Jaroslav

Jaroslav Flegr, PhDjfsmall1
Professor of Ecology and Associate Professor of Parasitology
National Institute of Mental Health
Klecany, Czechia
Faculty of Science, Charles University
Prague, Czechia

The Effect of Pet-Transmitted Diseases on the Mental and Physical Health of the General Population

Jaroslav Flegr is an evolutionary biologist and evolutionary psychologist affiliated to Fac. of Science
Charles University and National Institute of Public Health, Czechia. He is a discoverer of effects of latent
toxoplasmosis and Rh factor on human behavior and mental and physical health, as well as an author of
theories of frozen plasticity and frozen evolution. He has published four books and about 150 research

Conference Lecture Summary

Cross-sectional studies showed that being injured by a cat correlates with symptoms of impaired mental
health, such as depressiveness, the probability of being diagnosed with major depression, and also with
the occurrence of many physical health problems. Cat scratch disease, the infection with the
bacterium Bartonella henselae, was suggested to be responsible for these associations. We have
recently found that the situation can be more complicated and that other pathogens transmitted from cats
can be responsible for the associations

Platts-Mills, Thomas A.

Platts MillsThomas A. Platts-Mills, PhD, FRS
Professor of Medicine and Microbiology
Chief, Division of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology
University of Virginia School of Medicine
Charlottesville, VA

Sensitization to Alpha-gal as a Consequence of Lone Star Tick Bites

Thomas Platts-Mills is Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at the UVA School of Medicine. The son of a British member of parliament, he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and received his medical training at St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in London. He earned a PhD from London University and completed a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Kimishige Ishizaka. He has been a member of Britain’s Royal College of Physicians since 1971.

Dr. Platts-Mills joined UVA’s faculty in 1982, and has served as chief of the Allergy division since 1993. He has also served a term as president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).

In 2010, Dr. Platts-Mills was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his research into the causes of asthma and allergic disease. The Royal Society is the United Kingdom’s national academy of science and the oldest scientific academy in the world. Only a small number of fellows are physicians, and Platts-Mills is the first allergist ever elected. His election was based on more than 30 years of research on the role that dust mite, cat and cockroach allergens play in the development of allergic disease and asthma.

Conference Lecture Summary

In large areas of the United States, the lone star tick Amblyomma americanum has increased dramatically because of the increase in the deer population which is the primary breeding host for this tick. The lone stars are known vectors for several diseases, but recently it has been shown that bites from larval or adult ticks can induce sensitization to an important oligosaccharide of the non-primate mammals. This sensitization can be
identified by an in vitro assay for IgE to galactose alpha-1, 3-galactose (alpha-gal.) The presence of this antibody was first recognized because of severe reactions to the monoclonal antibody cetuximab. However, equally significant, it is now clear that sensitized subjects can experience delayed anaphylaxis 2-5 hours after eating red meat. This form of delayed reactivity was initially difficult to diagnose. It is now clear that the combination of reactions starting in adult life, the characteristic delay after eating red meat and a positive blood test, is sufficient to diagnose the condition. Furthermore, in these cases a diet avoiding red meat is effective in 90% of cases in preventing further severe attacks. Strikingly, bites of these ticks that are related to sensitization produce severe and prolonged itching at the site, which is very different from the experience with bites from Ixodes scapularis. Although the lone star tick routinely carries Rickettsia amblyomii, there is very little evidence that the sensitization to the oligosaccharide is caused by symbionts.

Buchthal, Joanna

BuchthalJoanna Buchthal, PhD (candidate)
Project Manager, Mice Against Ticks
MIT Media Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Boston, MA

A scientist, entrepreneur, and designer, Joanna is currently pursuing her PhD in the Sculpting Evolution Group at the MIT Media Lab. Her research is focused on preventing Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by engineering heritably resistant white-footed mice, the primary reservoir of the pathogens that cause many tick-borne illnesses in the Northeast. As the Project Manager and a resident of Martha’s Vineyard, she has been pioneering an open and community-guided approach to her research by involving her own community at every stage, a model of engagement she hopes will spread throughout science. Previously, she has worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and at NASA’s Habitability Design Center, and as COO of a natural language processing start-up. She holds a BFA in industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design.

Mice Against Ticks: Community-Guided Research for Public Health

Few areas are as afflicted by Lyme as the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which have some of the highest rates of infection in the nation. Mice Against Ticks is an open, community-guided project which aims to safeguard these islands by reducing the number of disease-carrying ticks. Because most ticks become infected when they bite infected white-footed mice, scientists are working to create tick-borne disease resistant white-footed mice that are capable of passing their resistance to their offspring. If a large number of resistant mice were released onto an island like Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, they would introduce immunity to the native mouse population by breeding with the local mice, deplete the local disease reservoir and dramatically reduce the population of infected ticks. Mainland mouse populations within individual towns could be similarly immunized using daisy threshold technology being developed in Dr. Kevin Esvelt’s lab at MIT. Uniquely, the communities of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have been involved in the project from the outset, providing direction before any experiments were conducted in the lab. Mice Against Ticks will be guided by public feedback as we aim to provide a long-lasting, safe and eco-friendly solution to this growing public health challenge.



William Robinson, MD, PhDSkare
Professor of Medicine (Immunology and Rheumatology)
Staff Physician, VA Palo Alto
Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA

Protective and Pathogenic B Cell Responses in Lyme Disease

The Robinson laboratory works in the fields of B cell biology, autoimmunity and inflammation. Dr. Robinson pioneered development of protein arrays, lipid arrays, and high-throughput sequencing approaches to identify the targets of antibody responses, investigate mechanisms underlying disease, and to develop novel therapeutic approaches. Dr. Robinson co-founded the Stanford Human Immune Monitoring Center, serves on the editorial boards of several journals, and serves on the Board of Directors of the American College of Rheumatology and the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies. He is an inventor on 23 patent applications, and technologies developed in his Stanford and VA laboratories have been licensed to nine companies in the biotechnology industry. Dr. Robinson was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Henry Kunkel Society. Dr. Robinson received his MD and PhD degrees from Stanford University, and completed his clinical training in internal medicine at UCSF.

Conference Lecture Summary

We are applying immune repertoire sequencing to characterize the B cell and antibody response following Borrelia burgdorferi infection and in post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).  We show that robust B cell responses producing anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies are associated with return to health following acute infection.  



Delaney, Shannon L.

delaneyShannon Delaney, MD, MA
Instructor in Psychiatry
Director, Child and Adolescent Research and Evaluation 
at the Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center 
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY

Borrelia Miyamotoi Exposure in a Clinical Population

Dr. Delaney is a neuropsychiatrist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center who is co-investigator with Dr. Fallon on studies of adults and children with Lyme disease. She completed her NIH-sponsored research fellowship at Columbia University in 2017. Her clinical research has focused on immune and infectious contributions to psychiatric disease, especially psychosis in children and young adults. A member of our team for over three years, she has recently joined an initiative to establish a PANDAS/PANS clinical assessment, treatment, and research center with experts from the Columbia Departments of Neurology, Pathology, and Psychiatry. This PANS/PANDAS initiative will allow children and young adults with complex neuropsychiatric presentations to be evaluated for a variety of infectious and immune causes of neuropsychiatric disorders.


Conference Lecture Summary

The first recognized cases of Borrelia Miyamotoi disease (BMD) in North America were reported in the northeastern United States in 2013, but much about the clinical features of this disease remains unknown. Our Second Opinion Evaluation Service at Columbia University Medical
Center evaluates patients with persistent symptoms who have a history of treatment for possible or definite Lyme disease. Since the summer of 2017, we assessed 52 patients for B. miyamoti antibodies (using an ELISA based on the recombinant glycerophosphodiester phosphodiesterase (rGlpQ) protein) through a specialty laboratory in Massachusetts. 14 of the 52 (27%) were positive for rGlpQ IgG antibodies. In a preliminary exploration to assess whether a history of infection with B miyamatoi alters the clinical profile among persistently ill patients, we compared
individuals representing subgroups: a) history of well-documented past Lyme disease (Lyme positive) and BM positive; b) Lyme positive but BM negative; and c) Lyme negative and BM negative. Results on standardized self-report assessments (somatic, behavioral, functioning) completed by all patients will be contrasted and reported. Additionally, results from comprehensive neurocognitive testing on a subset of
these patients will be reported.

Reece, Rebecca

reece rebeccaRebecca Reece, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine (Clinical)
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Providence, RI

First Confirmed Case of Powassan Neuroinvasive Disease in Rhode Island (co-presenting with Dr. Patel)

Dr. Rebecca Reece completed her internal medicine residency at West Virginia University and infectious disease fellowship at Brown University, where she has remained on as co-director of the Lifespan Lyme Disease Center. She also works closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health as co-chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force.

Conference Lecture Summary

The Powassan Virus is the tick-borne vector responsible for Powassan neuroinvasive disease. The virus was first isolated in 1958 and has been responsible for approximately 100 cases of neuroinvasive disease. Rates of infection have been on the rise over the past decade with numerous states reporting their first confirmed case; New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut all reported their first case within the last five years. The following presentation reviews the first confirmed case of Powassan neuroinvasive disease in the nearby state of Rhode Island. The case study provides evidence for the increasing spread of Powassan neuroinvasive disease and reinforces the importance of requesting focused testing for Powassan Virus in patients from an endemic area with a clinically compatible syndrome.

Patel, Kavin

PatelKavin Patel, MD
Internal Medicine
Rhode Island Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Providence, RI

First Confirmed Case of Powassan Neuroinvasive Disease in Rhode Island (co-presenting with Dr. Reece)

Dr. Kavin Patel is an internal medicine resident at Brown University and an aspiring infectious disease specialist. He works closely with Dr. Reece and their research interests includes tick-borne diseases including Lyme, Babesia and Powassan.

Conference Lecture Summary

The Powassan Virus is the tick-borne vector responsible for Powassan neuroinvasive disease. The virus was first isolated in 1958 and has been responsible for approximately 100 cases of neuroinvasive disease. Rates of infection have been on the rise over the past decade with numerous states reporting their first confirmed case; New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut all reported their first case within the last five years. The following presentation reviews the first confirmed case of Powassan neuroinvasive disease in the nearby state of Rhode Island. The case study provides evidence for the increasing spread of Powassan neuroinvasive disease and reinforces the importance of requesting focused testing for Powassan Virus in patients from an endemic area with a clinically compatible syndrome.

Horn, Liz

LH HeadshotLiz Horn, PhD, MBI
Poster Presentation
Human Tissue Collection Program
Principal Investigator
Lyme Disease Biobank
Portland, OR

Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Principal Investigator, Lyme Disease Biobank

Liz has spent more than a decade building research initiatives and collaborations with non-profit organizations, with a focus on registries and biobanks. She has been working in Lyme disease since 2013 and was part of the team that launched the Lyme Disease Biobank. The Biobank was created to provide much-needed samples to researchers studying Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections, and each participant’s sample donation supports up to 50 different research projects. Currently, more than 425 early acute samples and endemic controls are available to investigators. The Biobank is expanding to collect samples from patients with persistent Lyme disease, including post-mortem tissues.

Liz earned her doctorate in molecular pharmacology and cancer therapeutics from SUNY at Buffalo, was a National Library of Medicine fellow in biomedical informatics, and received her M.B.I. from Oregon Health & Science University. She has mentored and trained >75 advocacy organizations in the translational research enterprise, and helped these groups initiate collaborations with academia, other non-profits, and industry.

2018 Poster Presentation

Lyme Disease Biobank and National Disease Research Interchange Partnership: Human Tissue Collection Program to Accelerate Biomedical Research for Lyme Disease and other Tick-Borne Infections

Liz Horn, PhD, MBI1, Melissa VonDran, PhD2, Andrew J. Dwork, MD3,4, Honesto I. Nunez III2, Lorraine Johnson, JD5, Jennifer Shaw2, Saboor Shad2, Cristina Kelly2, Kerrie Copelin2, Alisa McDonald2, Thomas J. Bell, MS, PhD2

1Lyme Disease Biobank, Portland, OR; 2National Disease Research Interchange, Philadelphia, PA; 3Columbia University, New York, NY; 4New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY; 5Lymedisease.org, Chico, CA

Human biospecimens can provide scientists with a model system to advance our understanding of human biology and pathophysiology. The Lyme Disease Biobank (LDB) has partnered with the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) to collect a diverse range of tissue biospecimens from individuals with persistent Lyme disease. NDRI has over 35 years of experience serving as a critical link between individuals wishing to donate tissues for research and investigators who are working to find new treatments for a wide range of diseases. NDRI’s Donor Programs give patients and their family members an opportunity to make a significant contribution to research and development by providing a straightforward mechanism through which tissues and organs can be donated. The LDB-NDRI partnership will enable the collection of post-mortem and surgical tissues from individuals with LD and other tick-borne infections (TBI).  During the developmental phase, LDB and NDRI, in collaboration with the LDB Tissue Working Group, have created customized recovery protocols to address the major experimental needs within the Lyme research community. Priority areas for post-mortem tissue collection include neurologic tissue (brain, spinal cord, nerves), cardiovascular tissue (heart and arteries), musculoskeletal tissue (muscle, cartilage and synovial membrane), lymph nodes, liver, bladder, and spleen. When the program launches in Fall 2018, NDRI will maintain a registry of individuals interested in donating tissues, obtain consent for donation, develop a donation plan, and coordinate the recovery, packaging and shipping of biospecimens to the LDB for use by approved researchers. Potential participants will have the option of sharing their information with the MyLymeData registry, leveraging the robust data profiles from MyLymeData with tissue biospecimens. Together, LDB and NDRI will provide the research community with well annotated tissue biospecimens that are suitable for state-of-the-art experimental methods that can begin to address whether there is evidence of inflammation and evidence of infection in tissues in patients with persistent Lyme disease. Collectively, this approach can play a key role in accelerating the bench-to-bedside pathway to develop improved diagnostics and new treatments for patients with LD and other TBI. For more information, please visit https://ndriresource.org/lyme-disease.

Funding Acknowledgement: Lyme Disease Biobank is a program of Bay Area Lyme Foundation. This program is funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

Click here for poster

Lyme & Other Tick-Borne Diseases: Turning The Corner Through Research

2018 FacultySpeakersUpdated loCONFERENCE SOLD OUT

The Lyme Disease Association announces its 19th annual scientific conference, Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases: Turning the Corner Through Research, will be held October 27 & 28, 2018 in Providence, RI at the landmark Marriott Providence Downtown hotel. Once again, Columbia University jointly provides this educational conference with the LDA.

This conference is designed for medical & health professionals & researchers. The conference is also open for the general public to register. Adults only. Scholarships for conference/transportation available for medical students, residents, post-doctoral candidates, fellows, veterinarians with equivalent status to the above, and nurse practitioner candidates.

Topics of the conference: phase 1 of a post-mortem study on Borrelia & the brain, new treatments for Borrelia persisters, biomarkers of Lyme, metabolomic features of chronic illness, Lyme research updates, B cell responses in Lyme, Lyme pathogenesis, small fiber peripheral neuropathy, Borrelia immune evasion and persistence, alpha-gal meat allergy, serologic diagnosis of TBD, invasive longhorn tick in the US, genetic modifications of ticks, genetically modified mice, Babesia treatments, Powassan, cancer research & the diagnosis and treatment of TBD; Borrelia miyamotoi, prevention strategies and vaccine development; Bartonella; other tick-borne diseases, and concurrent TBD case report & literature review.

The conference lectures include:

Longhorn.Tick.SpreadingRobert Naviaux, MD, PhD, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Metabolomic Features of Chronic Illness – Lessons from Gulf War Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Claudia Molins, PhD, CDC, Use of Metabolic Profiles as Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers of Lyme Disease; John Aucott, MD, Johns Hopkins University, Updates on Research in Lyme Disease; Rafal Tokarz, PhD, Columbia, Novel Approaches to Serologic Diagnosis of TBD; William Robinson, MD, PhD, Stanford University, Protective and Pathogenic B Cell Responses in Lyme Disease; Neil Spector, MD, Duke University, Applying the Lessons From Cancer Research to the Diagnosis and Treatment of TBD;Jon Skare, PhD, Texas A&M University, Pathogenesis-related features of Borrelia burgdorferi; Utpal Pal, PhD, University of Maryland, Immune Evasion of Lyme Disease Agents; James Occi, PhD (candidate), Rutgers University, The Discovery of the “Asian long-horned tick,” Haemaphysalis longicornis, in New Jersey: A Combination of Perserverance, Luck and the Joy of Tick Collecting.”

Joanna Buchthal, PhD (candidate), MIT, Genetically Modified Mice; Thomas Platts-Mills, PhD, FRS, UVA School of Medicine, Sensitization to Alpha-gal as a Consequence of Lone Star Tick Bite; Beatrice Szantyr, MD, FAAP, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Lyme Disease – An Ounce of Prevention: Survey of the Evidence for Prevention Strategies in Lyme Disease; Kim Lewis, PhD, Northeastern University, Developing Therapies for Treating Lyme Disease; Choukri Ben Mamoun, PhD, Yale University, Targeting the Achilles Heel of Babesia Parasites’ Mode of Survival Within Human Red Blood Cells; Anne Oaklander, MD, PhD, Harvard University, Small-Fiber Peripheral Neuropathy: A Pathway for Some Patients.

Monika Gulia-Nuss, PhD, University of Nevada, Generating Transgenic Ticks for Ticks and Tick-borne Disease Management; Shannon Delaney, MD, Columbia University, Borrelia Miyamotoi Exposure in a Clinical Population; Kavin Patel, MD & Rebecca Reece, MD, Brown University, First Confirmed Case of Powassan Neuroinvasive Disease in Rhode Island; Elizabeth Maloney, MD (Conference Planning Committee) President, Partnership for Tick-Borne Diseases Education, Concurrent Tick-borne Illnesses: A Case Report and Review of the Literature; Brian Fallon, MD, MPH (Conference Director), Columbia University, Borrelia and the Brain Phase 1 of a Post-Mortem Study, Jaroslav Flegr, National Institute of Mental Health, Czechia, The Effect of Pet-Transmitted Diseases on the Mental and Physical Health of the General Population.

Click here for registration

Click here for scholarship information

Click here for Agenda

Click below for Pre-Conference Video

Poster Presentations
Abstracts will be considered for poster presentations at the conference – submission deadline TBA
email: Baf1@cumc.Columbia.edu, copy to bettymal2003@yahoo.com

Exhibit space
Exhibit space will be available. Click here for Exhibitor Registration

Marriott Providence Downtown Hotel
1 Orms St, Providence, RI 02904

There are no longer any rooms in the LDA Room Block. However, you can make regular reservations at the hotel.

For online reservations click here

Or call 866-807-2171

415 Free parking spaces 
Free wireless internet in guest rooms
Check in 4pm / Check-out 11am

Photos from Prior Conferences

Zhang Lyme Disease Association Conference 2015Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health – November 14, 2015 – LDA/Columbia Annual Scientific Conference (LDA file photo)
DSC03118 Breen sm2Joseph Breen, PhD National Institutes of Health (NIH) Morning Facilitator – May 3, 2014, LDA/Columbia Annual Scientific Conference (LDA file photo) 2012 Conf Speak LQ14September 29, 2012, LDA/Columbia Annual Scientific Conference ~ Discussion (morning speakers) (Photo: Jessica Harper Thomson)


Click here for prior conferences

{loadmodule mod_custom,Conference – Cohen Igenex}