Lyme and tickborne diseases are the fastest-growing vector-borne illness in the U.S., with an estimated 300,000 new cases every year. Alex Cohen, a sufferer herself, knows how debilitating they can be. Inspired by Alex’s personal journey, we launched the Cohen Lyme & Tickborne Disease Initiative in 2015 to raise awareness, advance research, and find a cure.

Today, we’re the largest private funder of Lyme and tickborne disease research in the country. We underwrite groundbreaking studies in prevention, diagnostics, and treatment, and make program related investments where any proceeds are transferred to a patient assistance fund. Program related investments are determined by invitation only. We have also made awareness and education an integral part of our mission. We show the overwhelming impact these illnesses can have on people’s lives, from financial stress to mental health challenges, and we strive to educate healthcare providers on the latest tools to diagnose and treat them.

In the coming years, we look forward to supporting our current projects, investing in new opportunities, and giving voice to patients to usher even greater change.

STATS GRAPH: $50 million* to more than 25 research projects since 2015


  1. Prevention: $8.3 million
  2. Diagnosis: $6.5 million
  3. Therapeutics: $15 million
  4. Fundamental Knowledge: $12.5 million
  5. Field Building: $15.8 million
  6. Patient Support: $2.6 million

*Amount reflects dispersed total; committed total is $60 million.


  1. Bay Area Lyme Foundation, 2015: $5.3 million (Dr. Liz Horn)
    TAGS: Field Building
    Project: A national biorepository of blood, urine, and tissue samples from Lyme patients that allows researchers to develop new diagnostics and treatments
  2. Cary Institute, 2016: $4.5 million (Dr. Richard Ostfeld)
    TAGS: Prevention
    Project: A large-scale study to test two ecological interventions aimed at killing ticks, which may translate into a scalable community-based health protection model
  3. Columbia University, 2016: $2.6 million (Drs. Rafal Tokarz, Ian Lipkin, and Brian Fallon)
    TAGS: Diagnosis; Fundamental Knowledge
    Projects: 1) A test for rapid and simultaneous diagnosis of eight tick-borne diseases in North America;
    2) An analysis of post-mortem brain tissue to evaluate how Lyme and bartonella infections develop
  4. Duke University, 2017: $3.9 million (Dr. Neil Spector) TAG: Therapeutics
    Project: Develop targeted molecular oral drug therapies that effectively reduce Borrelia and Bartonella infections while keeping other tissues healthy
  5. Johns Hopkins University, 2016: $7.9 million (Drs. Ying Zhang, John Aucott, and Mark Soloski)
    TAGS: Therapeutics; Field Building
    Projects: 1) Testing combinations of FDA-approved drugs targeting Lyme bacteria that may persist beyond the standard course of antibiotics;
    2) A biorepository that collects and analyzes samples to better understand why some Lyme patients have ongoing symptoms
  6. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 2016: $6.96 million (Drs. Avi Ma’ayan and Jason Bobe)
    TAG: Fundamental Knowledge
    Projects: 1) An integrated model of Lyme disease to develop biomarkers and drug repurposing
    predictions; 2) Data sharing across all grantees;
    3) Coordination of in-person, collaborative forums
  7. Institute for Systems Biology, 2016: $3 million (Dr. Lee Hood)
    TAG: Fundamental Knowledge
    Project: An Analysis of Lyme patient immune response to characterize transition from acute to persistent
    condition and identify related biomarkers
  8. LymeLight Foundation, 2015: $2 million (Phyllis Bedford)
    TAG: Patient Support
    Project: Support financial reimbursement of direct patient care for children and young adults
  9. Northeastern University, 2015: $2.7 million (Dr. Kim Lewis)
    TAG: Therapeutics
    Project: Identification and development of effective therapies for treatment of acute and persistent Lyme
  10. Tulane University, 2016: $1.5 million (Dr. Monica Embers)
    TAGS: Therapeutics; Fundamental Knowledge
    Projects: 1) An analysis of post-mortem brain tissue to evaluate how Lyme and bartonella infections develop;
    2)Testing combinations of FDA-approved drugs targeting Lyme bacteria that may persist beyond the standard course of antibiotics
  11. UC Davis, 2016: $624,000 (Dr. Nicole Baumgarth)
    TAG: Fundamental Knowledge
    Project: A study of how Lyme disease suppresses the immune response in mice and increases risk of infection
  12. UCLA, 2016: $1.1 million (Dr. Aydogan Ozcan)
    TAG: Diagnosis
    Project: A point-of-care diagnostic test for Lyme disease, which is portable, low-cost, and can be used by local
    physicians or laboratories
  13. UCSF, 2017: $1.1 million (Dr. Charles Chiu)
    TAG: Diagnosis
    Project: A detection tool for multiple tick-borne diseases, which identifies both the pathogen and corresponding
    host response to improve accuracy
  14. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2016: $1.1 million (Dr. Richard Marconi)
    TAG: Prevention
    Project: A human vaccine for Lyme disease that builds on the success of developing an effective canine vaccine
  15. Yale University, 2018: $1.1 million (Dr. Erol Fikrig)
    TAG: Prevention
    Project: An anti-tick bite vaccine that would help prevent transmission of multiple tickborne diseases


Tick Habitats