Diana Ross for LymeAid

Diana Ross brought LymeAid scientists, clinicians and supporters to their feet for an hour of nonstop dancing after a two-day event aimed at helping make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder and advocate of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, hosted a strategy and collaboration session for scientists and clinicians on Saturday, April 30th. They were joined by more than 300 philanthropists, celebrities, patients and others in the medical field for the fourth annual LymeAid benefit event on Sunday. LymeAid featured a performance from Diana Ross following dinner at the Palo Alto home of Paula and Mike Rantz. More than $815,000 was raised, one hundred percent of which will go directly to Lyme research.

Scenes from LymeAid 2016 with Diana Ross:

“In trying to combat a disease that is proving more dangerous than previously believed, we are exceedingly grateful for the incredible outpouring of support for our research programs from the science, technology, and financial communities,” said Linda Giampa, executive director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. More than 329,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with this potentially debilitating disease.

Neil Spector, MD, leading national oncologist, researcher and author of “Gone in a Heartbeat”, offered LymeAid attendees insights into how the challenges of Lyme disease are similar to the challenges of cancer, and informed of the dangers of Lyme with his story of the devastating cardiac effects.

Two up-and-coming researchers were awarded $100,000 grants as part of the weekend’s focus on finding solutions to the medical challenges of Lyme disease:

  • Britton J. Grasperge, PhD, Louisiana State University, awarded the Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award to further his research to identify substances within the tick saliva that are responsible for attracting the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in an effort to develop a better diagnostic.
  • Chase Beisel, PhD, North Carolina State University, awarded the Laure Woods Emerging Leader Award to explore the potential ability of CRISPR-Cas genome targeting to kill the bacteria that causes Lyme.

The scientists and clinicians who participated in all activities of the weekend included Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board members: John Aucott, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Monica E. Embers, PhD, Tulane University Health Sciences; Christine Green, MD, clinician and Director of Education for International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society; Robert Lane, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Neil Spector, MD, Duke University School of Medicine; William Robinson, MD, PhD, Stanford University.

Other researchers and medical professionals in attendance who are making incredible contributions to Lyme disease research included Richard Horowitz, MD, author, “How Can I Get Better?”; Dan Salkeld, PhD, Colorado State University; Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, Stanford Lyme Working Group; and Kristen T. Honey, PhD, PMP, Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The White House Executive Office of the President.

LymeAid event co-chairs: Eileen Morgenthaler, Paula Rantz, Carin Rollins and Laure Woods

Honorary chairs: Jane and Bert Inch; Alexandra and Steven Cohen; Gary Morgenthaler; Sandy and Jim Katzman; Phyllis and Scott Bedford; and Elet Hall, a 2014 American Ninja Warrior finalist and a Lyme disease sufferer.

Photos by Drew Altizer Photography

Related — more Red Carpet Bay Area coverage for LymeAid: