Johns Hopkins Lyme and Tickborne Diseases Research and Education Institute
Mission: Leading research and education on Lyme and other tickborne diseases to advance public health
All tickborne diseases are on the rise nationally and globally
The urgent public health problem of Lyme disease requires a swift, comprehensive solution. Doctors disagree on the best therapy and federal research funding has been limited.
Public health's fresh approach to science-driven problem-solving is designed to answer crucial questions such as:
- How does the disease originate at the molecular level and then spread from ticks to human hosts?
- What are the best policies for containment and eradication?
Our vision is clearer and more urgent than ever. Smallpox was the first disease to be eradicated globally, using a multi-pronged attack by microbiologists, vaccine specialists, epidemiologists, clinicians, policy makers, advocates, and community workers. Similar collaborative efforts are targeting polio and parasitic worms. Lyme disease and all tickborne illnesses should be next.
The Johns Hopkins Lyme and Tickborne Diseases Research and Education Institute (LTBDI) is hosted by the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where premier public health researchers can collaborate with medical school colleagues as well as national and international organizations such as the Global Lyme Alliance. The Institute is a research hub and a critical training ground for the next generation of young scholars.
Much progress in further establishing the institute has been made over the last couple of years. Recently, Nicole Baumgarth, was recruited to MMI as the inaugural director. Dr. Baumgarth is an Immunologist who studies how the Lyme disease bacteria can evade the immune response to establish persistent infections. Progress has been made in the building of a tick insectary (or “tickery”) adjacent to high level containment laboratories so that investigators can study existing and newly emerging infectious agents carried by ticks.
On May 3, 2023, we are hosting our second symposium that will feature invited speakers who will provide updates on a broad range of topics from the ecology of ticks to the latest discoveries on tickborne diseases such as Lyme and Babesiosis.
The LTBDI will utilize the tickery to study tick biology, and conduct research into the causes of disease, researching the most promising vaccine and treatment solutions, examining the risks and economic impact of Lyme and other tickborne diseases, and developing policy recommendations to enhance prevention measures. This comprehensive approach, described by Hopkins as the power of public health, is lacking in most institutions focused on Lyme and tick disease research.
We believe that this broader positioning will actually help quiet the controversies that have surrounded the very existence of tickborne diseases, particularly Chronic Lyme, in recent years. We are also confident that the Bloomberg School’s proven track record with malaria, smallpox, HIV, and other infectious diseases creates a solid blueprint for our efforts to combat tickborne illnesses.
How you can help
Developing new therapies, training new researchers, engaging policymakers with data-driven recommendations, and discovering a viable vaccine for Lyme disease will be impossible without philanthropy.
Estimated costs for the Institute:
Total costs: $35 million to fully establish the Institute, build the tickery, expand the complement of research facilities, and hire the scientists and staff needed to drive research across all disciplines.
Recent federal legislation, known as the TICK Act, will provide close to $150 million for Lyme and tickborne illness research. Given our track record for securing government funding (JHU receives more government grants than any other academic institution), we are uniquely positioned to become a center of excellence with both private and government funding.
We’ve reached a tipping point toward vanquishing this challenging disease. Johns Hopkins has a long history of bringing together philanthropists, federal funding agencies, renowned researchers, and world-class facilities to solve the world's most urgent health problems. We can do the same with the Lyme disease and tickborne illness and invite you to join us in our efforts.
Please consider a gift to help us establish and launch the Johns Hopkins Lyme and Tickborne Diseases Research and Education Institute. Funding will support these important components:
- Translational research collaborators in the School of Medicine
- Recruitment and support of new researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students in the vector sciences
- Upgraded laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment
- Annual summit for global Lyme disease and tickborne illnesses research
- Core operating funds
For more information, contact:
Heath Elliott, Associate Dean for Development
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins Lyme and Tickborne Diseases Symposium - May 3, 2023
A one-day research symposium was held at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in which leading researchers will provide updates on the latest research on the factors that drive the increases in Lyme and other tickborne diseases, the molecular biology of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, and of Babesia, two pathogens carried by ticks, and the study of human Lyme disease.
Johns Hopkins is already home to some of the world’s foremost experts in Lyme and infectious disease research.
Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, PhD, Peetz Family Professor and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) recently relocated to Johns Hopkins University to become the Institute’s inaugural director. She studies immune responses to pathogens, including to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria causing Lyme disease.
Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, the Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor and Chair of Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, focuses on host defense mechanisms, how fungi cause disease, and the development of antibody-based therapies for infectious diseases.
Frank Curriero, PhD, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. He explores the use of spatial science methods to advance public health. He recently established the Johns Hopkins Lyme and tickborne diseases dashboard www.hopkinslymetracker.org.
Douglas Norris, PhD, Professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI). He studies the genetics of arthropod vectors, such as ticks, and the pathogens they carry. He serves as Chair of the LTBDI Scientific Advisory Board.
Latest Research News
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Olivia Goodreau, now living with Lyme, created the LivLyme Foundation to raise awareness of tickborne illnesses and funding for research in this challenging area.
Lyme disease is an emergency. Instead of feeding the hype, we must support the science.
The controversy may be low-hanging fruit, but what we really need to focus on is a motherlode of hopeful research shining new light on the disease.
Lyme Disease Is Baffling, Even to Experts
But new insights are at last accumulating.
The Baltimore Sun
As tick season begins, researchers find promising treatment for Lyme-related disease
About 300,000 people a year are infected with Lyme disease through tick bites, and for up to 20 percent of them the condition persists after a course of antibiotics. But just in time for tick season, researchers are now onto a promising treatment for those sufferers.