Tufts Lyme Disease Challenge

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December 2nd, 11:59 PM EST

Faculty

Amy Ullmann, Ph.D.

Public Health Advisor, Bacterial Diseases Branch Division of Vector-borne Diseases National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CDC)

Dr. Ullmann received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Immunology and Pathology from Colorado State University, and began working as a microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Vector-borne Diseases in Fort Collins, CO, in 2000.

 

Her work has focused on the genome and physiology of Ixodes scapularis, the tick responsible for transmission of Lyme disease in the United States, with the goal of elucidating new targets for prevention and control.  She is currently a Public Health Advisor at CDC, where she is responsible for promoting, managing, and monitoring CDC-funded efforts by research partners and state health departments. Through this work, she aims to better synthesize research and public health activities on Lyme disease occurring both inside and outside CDC.

Professor & Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Kaplan holds an Endowed Chair as the Stern Family Professor of Engineering. He is Professor & Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and also holds faculty appointments in the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Kaplan’s lab research focuses on biopolymer engineering to understand structure-function relationships, with emphasis on studies related to self-assembly, biomaterials engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The studies include a variety of structural proteins, including collagens, elastins, resilins and silks. In addition, the lab has pioneered the study of silk-based biomaterials in regenerative medicine, starting from fundamental studies of the biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysical features of this novel class of fibrous proteins to their impact on stem cell functions and complex tissue formation.  

 

He was an early pioneer in vaccine development using the silk based technology for delivery of Lyme disease vaccines.  One of the most innovative and collaborative Professors at Tufts University, you would be hard pressed to find anyone on campus who had not worked with David on a project!

Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine 

Dr. Snydman is also Vice Chairman for Research in the Dept. of Medicine at Tufts Medical Center and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.  While working as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer for the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Snydman was one of the original investigators that identified Lyme disease as a new tick-borne infection in Old Lyme, CT.   He is an internationally recognized expert in infections in transplant recipients and has led numerous clinical trials.  He was recently recognized by the Infectious Disease Society of America for his outstanding mentorship with its highest award for mentors, the Walter E. Stamm Award.

Edith Rieva and Hyman S. Trilling Professor; Chair of Molecular Biology & Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine

Dr. Leong started working on Lyme disease in 1989 (i.e. before some of your parents were born), investigating host cell interactions that are critical to pathogen spread and colonization. His first faculty appointment (1990-95) was in the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology at Tufts Medical Center, who was headed by Dr. Allen Steere, who (like Dr. Snydman) is known for his work in Lyme, CT, characterizing the disease as a tick-borne entity.  It was at Tufts Medical Center that he first met Dr. Linden Hu (see below), the future “crazy man of Lyme disease”. Remarkably, in spite of the fact that many Lyme disease investigators have interacted with Dr. Leong to examine aspects of bloodstream survival, tissue tropism, and the development of immunity, Dr. Hu is not one of them. (Dr. Hu has assured him it’s “nothing personal”.) He left Tufts for a brief stint as Professor of Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, before coming to his senses and returning to Tufts Medical School as Chair of Microbiology.  Dr. Leong is an internationally recognized leader in the Pathogenesis of Lyme disease and an outstanding teacher who has been recognized with multiple teaching awards from our Medical classes.

Fun fact: Dr. Leong has literally bled for Lyme disease research, donating his own platelets to study spirochete-host cell interaction—one can see images of his platelets in his first (1993) publication on Lyme disease.  

Vice Dean for Research and Professor of Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine

Dr. Hu has been involved in Lyme research for over 20 years. His laboratory has been involved in clinical research as well as laboratory studies of the bacteria and the immunological responses to it. Called by some the “crazy man” of Lyme disease, he is leading NIH funded studies to investigate feeding live ticks on people as a diagnostic test and releasing genetically altered viruses to prevent disease in the animals in the wild.  

His laboratory works with leading pharmaceutical companies in the development of vaccines and other approaches to prevent human Lyme disease.  

He is an avid (but bad) ultimate frisbee player and would like to see Lyme disease eradicated so he can feel safe when retrieving errant discs that go into the woods.

Fun fact:  Linden has an alternative career as tick food and has used his arm to feed over 100 ticks. 
 

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University  

Dr. Xu is a recipient of the highly prestigious Pew Award and a CAREER award from NSF.  His research interests lie at the intersection of material science engineering (specifically nanoscience) and biomedical applications. His team looks at developing new synthetic materials for the delivery of therapeutic biomacromolecules. He has applied his technology to many different applications including delivery of CRISPR/Cas constructs intracellularly for gene editing, tissue engineering, neural regeneration and vaccine delivery.  He has employed his nanoparticles to improve the safety of viral vaccines targeted to wild-animals at risk for Lyme. 

Associate Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine

Dr. Kalish is a practicing rheumatologist at Tufts Medical Center where he is Director of the Tufts Lyme Disease Clinic. He was involved in seminal translational studies of the human immune response in patients with Lyme disease including long term follow-up of patients who had Lyme disease 10-20 years prior.  

A revered teacher at Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Kalish was recipient of a Clinician Scholar Educator grant through the American College of Rheumatology and he has received Innovation in Education Grant Awards from the Tufts University School of Medicine.  He is involved in education about Lyme disease at the national level through the American College of Rheumatology.  

Fun fact: Rob is a founding member of the longest continuously running fantasy baseball league in the country.  
 

Dr. Smith is a practicing infectious disease physician with research interests in molecular epidemiology and ecology of emergent vector-borne diseases (Lyme, Babesia, Anaplasma, Powassan Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus), as well as clinical recognition and diagnosis of emergent vector-borne diseases.


Dr. Smith was the founding director of the Virology Treatment Center at Maine Medical Center in 1991, and continues to serve as its Medical Director and the Division Director for Infectious Diseases at Maine Medical Center.  He is the Co-founder and Director of the Vector-borne Disease Laboratory.  He was also a member of the Health and Human Services working group on Tick Borne Diseases in 2018.

Professor of Medicine at Tufts University 

Dr. Telford is an epidemiologist focusing on arthropod-transmitted infections. Early in career, he was involved in the development of the only approved human vaccine for Lyme disease.  He is an internationally renowned expert in Lyme disease, Babesiosis, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis and one of the early pioneers in two newly discovered tick-borne diseases—deer tick virus and Borrelia miyamotoi disease.  He is an advisor to local, state and national organizations on public health interventions against tick and mosquito borne infection.  He is Tufts own “germ-hunter” traipsing the world to find new and exotic diseases.

Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the Cummings School of Veterinary Health

Fellow in Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Lemieux is a researcher in Dr. Pardis Sabeti’s laboratory at the Broad Institute where he has been examining the genetic basis for phenotypic variation in Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti.  He has also been developing CRISPR based detection systems for tick borne pathogens.  He holds a B.S. from Stanford University, a D.Phil. in molecular parasitology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and member of the NIH-Oxford Graduate Partnership Program, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. Most recently, he has been working in Dr. John Leong’s laboratory to further understand the pathophysiology of the Lyme bacteria.

Dr. Gwynne's research is aimed at finding interesting ways to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Previous projects have included developing a laser to kill MRSA and inventing new types of plastic that repel bacteria. He’s worked with at least 15 different pathogens, but has probably forgotten some.

Currently, at Tufts, he is interested in the ways that the Lyme bacteria move between ticks, mice, and people, and is trying to find ways to interrupt that cycle.focuses on the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. After studying biochemistry in Cardiff and microbiology in Edinburgh he moved to Boston to pursue his passion for watching as many different types of sport as possible (and also to do some science).

Fun fact: He is Britain’s only known fan of the Denver Broncos. 

Research scientist at Tufts University School of Medicine 

Research Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tufts University

Dr. Petnicki-Ocwieja has been involved in Lyme Research for 10 years and has been focused on studies of immunological responses to the bacterium. Her studies have expanded on the knowledge of how receptors recognize microbial products and fine tune immune responses. She has also been working on understanding how the nature of the long term infection alters the immune response in the host over time.  She can often be found in the lab thinking of ideas nobody likes but luckily for her eventually everyone changes their mind. She wants to see Lyme disease eradicated so the ticks don’t get such a bad rap.

Fun fact:  Tanja speaks multiple foreign languages and is still waiting for that skill to become critical to her studies, preferably on some tropical island.
 

Supporter of Tufts Lyme Disease Challenge and Driving Force Behind Building Tufts Lyme Disease Initiative

Dr. Roome is President of Consumer and Professional Publishing at Scholastic, Inc. Dr. Roome was elected to the Tufts Board of Trustees in 2009, where he Chairs the Audit Committee. He and his wife, Katherine (J. 74), established the Roome Fund for scholarships at Fletcher in population studies and arms control and the Roome International Fund at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Tufts and a M.A.L.D. and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School, 1980.

At Scholastic, Roome publishes thirty magazines reaching 25 million readers, including the New York Times Upfront, which he created — the award-winning teen newsmagazine. Hugh is publisher of various book imprints, including: Nature’s Children, Cornerstones of Freedom and Enchantment of the World. As President of Scholastic International from 2001–2008, Hugh led 15 overseas companies with revenue of $500 million from Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Hugh is past Chairman of the Board of Directors of American Business Media.  He serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of the Foreign Policy Association and is a Trustee of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. He is past Chair of the Board of the Association of Educational Publishers / EdPress. Hugh is the author of two biographies for children: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Hero (2017) and Martin Luther King Jr., American Hero (2017). In 2017 he won the Lamplighter Award in educational publishing and was inducted into the Publishers’ Hall of Fame.  He was Adjunct Professor teaching “The Global Marketplace: Challenges and Opportunities” at New York University (2006-2014)  Katherine Roome is Chair of the Agricultural Stewardship Association.

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