LDA Press Release on Center Opening

Contact: Pat Smith, Lyme Disease Association, Inc.

email: [email protected] or 888-366-6611
For Immediate Release


Author Amy Tan calls it “Center for Hope” for patients

Wall Township, NJ, April 2007 – In a move that coincides with scientific concern worldwide over global warming and the resultant increase in the range and numbers of ticks and tick-borne diseases, Columbia University Medical Center is opening the first endowed research center for chronic Lyme disease in the world on April 30. The Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center in New York will use its vast resources to bring together various disciplines from within and outside of the University to address fundamental clinical and basic science questions that plague adults and children affected by Lyme disease.

According to Brian A. Fallon, MD, the new center director, “Benefits accrue exponentially when scientists from multiple disciplines apply their specific expertise to solve complex problems. This is what is so tremendously valuable about this new Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia, as the solutions to fundamental diagnostic and treatment questions require the coordinated effort of highly skilled scientists using the latest in biotechnology that only a university-based center can provide.” Dr. Fallon is also associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the Lyme Disease Research Program, New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The Center’s clinical and research mission includes studies of new diagnostic tests, clinical phenomenology, immunopathogenesis, co-infections, genetic markers of vulnerability, brain imaging, neuoropathology of post-mortem brains, well-controlled studies of new treatments and tick pathogens. This Center will serve as a national resource, providing pilot grants to researchers nation-wide and focusing the latest scientific technology on helping to resolve the problems of chronic Lyme disease.

As Lyme cases increase worldwide, so does the development of chronic disease which may result from a delayed diagnosis and delayed or inadequate treatment. While much is known about early Lyme disease, relatively little is known about chronic Lyme disease, despite its disabling effects, which may include arthritis, cognitive loss, peripheral neuropathies, and debilitating fatigue. Sometimes, Lyme may also cause strokes, blindness, severe psychiatric disorders, and multiple-sclerosis-like illnesses. Adults may become permanently disabled, and children may be home sick for months or years, missing the key academic and social influences so critical to healthy development.

Internationally acclaimed author (and Lyme patient) Amy Tan expresses “my deep gratitude to all those whose commitment helped create this world-class center for Lyme disease research. For many of us, it is also a center for hope. We now know there is support for the best minds in science and medicine to work toward more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment of a widespread and devastating disease.”

The national New Jersey-based Lyme Disease Association, Inc. (LDA) and Connecticut-based Time For Lyme (TFL) who are affiliated organizations, partnered with Columbia in the development of this center concept and devoted a large percent of their efforts and resources in the past 5 years to funding the endowment for the Center. People nationwide contributed to make this effort a success. Pat Smith, LDA President, said of the opening, “This is a banner day for everyone connected to Lyme disease and those at risk for tick-borne diseases. Columbia University now houses a premier center which will focus efforts on a definitive Lyme test, chronic Lyme disease, tissue studies, and even tick pathogens. The unsettled science which has clouded diagnosis and treatment will be closely examined in an environment where researchers are interested in discovering the truth about Lyme disease.”

About Lyme Disease Association—The Lyme Disease Association (LDA) is a national nonprofit all-volunteer organization that devotes ninety-eight percent of its funds to programs-funding research, education, prevention and patient support. LDA-funded research has been published in peer review including JAMA, Neurology, Infection, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Recognizing that the ability to find solutions involves a multi-disciplinary effort, the LDA has partnered with businesses, patient groups, celebrities, government, and the medical community to unlock the secrets of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. LDA is currently planning its 8th fully CME accredited medical conference for physicians on Lyme and other tick- borne diseases. Go to LymeDiseaseAssociation.org.

About Time for Lyme—TFL, affiliate of Lyme Disease Association, is an organization dedicated to eliminating the devastating effects of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Its mission is to prevent the spread of disease, develop definitive diagnostic tools and effective treatments, and to ultimately find a cure for tick-borne illness by supporting research, education, and the acquisition and dissemination of information. In addition, TFL advocates for Lyme disease sufferers and their families through support of legislative reform on the federal, state and local levels. For more information on TFL, please visit www.timeforlyme.org.

About Dr. Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH—He is Associate Professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of the Lyme Disease Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He graduated from Harvard, got his M.D. and a MPH from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has dozens of publications in the Lyme disease field and much of his work has been supported by NIH grants and has been acclaimed internationally.