The Center Revolutionizing Lyme Disease Care

By Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation

In honor of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is honored to welcome the Mount Sinai Health System to our Grantee Blog. The Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, including eight hospitals, outpatient practices, labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time.

Courtesy of the Mount Sinai Health System

Last year, Mount Sinai announced the expansion of the Cohen Center for Recovery From Complex Chronic Illnesses (CoRE) to include new research programs aimed at understanding and distinguishing the key similarities and differences between long Lyme disease/Lyme+, Long COVID, ME/CFS, and other infection-associated chronic illnesses.

The insights gained will help clinicians and researchers at Mount Sinai develop and test innovative therapies that create specialized rehabilitation programs to address patients’ unique symptoms, such as autonomic dysfunction, also known as dysautonomia. Experienced by at least 70% of patients with chronic illnesses, dysautonomia affects the nerves that regulate involuntary body functions including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, and hormone release.

Patients with Lyme and other infection-associated chronic illnesses have historically struggled to find dedicated clinical centers equipped with the innovative professionals, expertise, and research to best support them throughout their treatment. With this expansion, CoRE will stand as a beacon for millions of patients around the world.

David Putrino, PhD, is a Professor of Rehabilitation and Human Performance at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Director of Rehabilitation Innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System and serves as the Nash Family Director of CoRE. Today, he joins us for a Q&A to provide insight into CoRE’s pivotal role in the development of care for those living with complex, infection-associated chronic illnesses.

Q: Patients with Lyme disease and other infection-associated chronic illnesses face unique challenges in finding adequate care. What does the expansion of CoRE mean for them?

Putrino: For decades, people with long Lyme disease have struggled to find centers that can provide knowledgeable and compassionate care for their serious and debilitating symptoms. We are proud that our Center will be one of the few places in the world that is embedded in a major clinical institution to provide this care—this is a patient population that has been without access to adequate care for too long.

Q: How does CoRE plan to use the results of these new studies to improve patient care and treatment?

Putrino: There are very few clinical centers of excellence that engage in both outstanding clinical care and world-leading research focused on biological discovery. Since 2020, we have established significant expertise and experience in the clinical management and research of long COVID. Because clinical and biological similarities can exist between long COVID and other infection-associated complex chronic conditions such as long Lyme disease/Lyme+, offering clinical care and research and clinical trial opportunities for people living with long Lyme disease/Lyme+ is a logical and important extension of our Center’s work. This is not about treating all of these conditions in the same way. On the contrary, it is about using this as an opportunity to carefully study how these conditions differ from one another and establish targeted and precise therapies for our patients.

Q: Can you elaborate on CoRE’s dedication to creating access to comprehensive care? 

Putrino: At the heart of CoRE is providing rapid innovation and translation of research and accessible and affordable care for those with infection-associated complex chronic illnesses such as Long COVID, Lyme disease, and ME/CFS. As such, we will take insurance and work to help patients to access expensive off-label medications through ethical formularies. Because our clinical strategies can be easily replicated at other centers—we’re not looking to become a “destination center”—we will be putting a lot of effort into free medical education so that others can do what we do.

We are fighting to move as fast as we can, because we can see the need and we are hopeful that this center, and others that grow from it, will be game-changing, but we want to make sure we get it right. Our team is  both humbled and honored to serve this community that has too long been without the care they deserve.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, receiving high “Honor Roll” status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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