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In Vivo


First-of-its-Kind Center
to Study Chronic Lyme


The Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center, the first university center for the study of Lyme disease in the United States, has been created at CUMC. The center, with the ongoing support of Time for Lyme Inc. and the Lyme Disease Association, brings together a multi-disciplinary team of CUMC physician-scientists who employ the most recent advances in medical technology to help unravel the complexities of Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
   Lyme disease is the fastest growing organism-transmitted disease in the United States. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania accounted for 64 percent of all cases of Lyme disease reported to the CDC last year. May through August are the peak months for contracting Lyme disease.
   Located within the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the center is headed by Brian Fallon, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of psychiatry. It focuses on clinical research to develop novel therapies, basic science to unravel disease mechanisms and to identify better diagnostic tests, and education of medical students and physicians on how to best evaluate and treat patients.
   The center’s renowned collaborating scientists include Dr. Claire Fraser (led the team that mapped the Borrelia genome), Dr. Janis Weis (pathogenesis of Lyme arthritis), Dr. John Mann (translational neuroscience), Dr. Steven Schutzer (novel diagnostic tests), Dr. Ian Lipkin (foreign pathogen identification), Dr. Jorge Benach (Borrelia and co-infections), Dr. Scott Hammer (infectious diseases), Dr. Diego Cadavid (neuropathology and neurology), Dr. Ronald Van Heertum (neuroimaging), and Dr. Aaron Mitchell (molecular pathogenesis).
   The center is developing a brain bank for autopsy specimens from patients with neurologic Lyme disease to study the neuropathology of the disease. Dr. Fallon and his team recently completed a PET imaging study of chronic Lyme disease, which highlights ways that functional brain imaging can be used to identify biomarkers with potentially valuable diagnostic and treatment implications for patients with chronic Lyme disease.
   Lyme disease, when diagnosed and treated early, is rarely a problem. When early diagnosis is missed, the manifestations can be diverse and treatment more complex.
For more information on Lyme disease research at CUMC, visit: http://www.columbia-lyme.org/.

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