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news-articleNews<p>Dozens of teams participated for prizes and a chance to receive awards from Lyme Innovation at a White House Open Data Summit in September.</p>

Spaulding's Dean Center and Leading Experts Collaborate Hold First-ever Lyme Disease Focused Hackathon, "Lyme Innovation"


Dozens of teams participated for prizes and a chance to receive awards from Lyme Innovation at a White House Open Data Summit in September.

(Cambridge, MA)- Spaulding Rehabilitation’s Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, and University of California, Berkeley, recently announced the five finalists of Lyme Innovation, the first ever hackathon for Lyme disease.  Lyme Innovation, was held at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge and was sponsored by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, with additional funding from State Street Foundation and RA Capital Management. More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and advocates from the US and Canada attended this three day event to form multidisciplinary teams that ultimately developed projects leading to cutting-edge solutions for Lyme disease.

"Holding a Lyme disease hackathon was critical in order to accelerate innovation and research and to develop a longer and more diverse pipeline of scientist and entrepreneurs dedicated to expediting solutions in the field of Lyme disease," said Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, Lyme Innovation lead, Clinical Co-Director of Spaulding Rehabilitation Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, and an Instructor at the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medical and Rehabilitation.

Several prominent speakers, advocates and experts representing several partnering organizations spoke to inform and inspire participants. Kristen T. Honey, PhD, PMP, Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy of The White House Executive Office of the President, was the keynote speaker at the event.  David Maron, Chief of Biostatistics, Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation, as well as a number of Lyme disease patients including Yolanda Hadid who hosted a video-conference from California, also encouraged participants.

“The Lyme Innovation event was an eye-opening experience that both informed about the severity, prevalence, and misunderstanding of Lyme disease and inspired hope as novel solutions were developed through an integration of expertise from a variety of disciplines,” said David Maron, MHS, Chief of Biostatistics, Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “The Veterans Affairs is pleased to engage with organizations from industry, academia, and other government agencies to strategically forge partnerships using data, science, and technology to expand transparent communication for issues that are relevant to Veterans.”

Over the three days of Lyme Innovation, nearly 100 participants formed sixteen teams to tackle the top ten Lyme disease priorities. The top ten priorities were developed by attendees at the American Academy of Advancement of Science Fellows conference, Innovations-X, which took place in November 2015.

"Collaboration is the key to solving the myriad of challenges of Lyme disease, and we were excited to have the participation of so many researchers new to Lyme research," said Wendy Adams, Science Committee, Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  "It has been exciting to see such a wide range of expertise and enthusiasm come together to focus on solutions for this serious disease."

Finalists each received $5,000 and the opportunity to compete for additional grants. Lyme Innovation will present awards to the final three teams at the White House Open Data Summit on September 28th. The projects selected for seed funding focused on:

  • Identification of novel treatment targets for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease utilizing the University of Massachusetts Plant Cell Culture Library.
  • Research of a compound currently in clinical trials for cancer which could block the bacteria from changing its DNA so that the immune system can recognize and respond to the pathogen.
  • A tracking system for patients to record their symptoms and vital signs to assist physicians in better understand how each patient responds to treatment.
  • A patient powered platform to combat the isolation and depression patients experience that taps into the Crisis Text Line, a platform to reduce suicides.
  • A tracking tool capable of predicting risk of Lyme disease to humans based on research showing that canine infection rates are predictive of human risk.

Recognition awards were also given to teams in the areas of public health, prevention, education and diagnostics.

Presentations can be found here. Follow Lyme Innovation on Twitter @lymeinnovation and learn more at

The Dean Center clinic is located at Spaulding Outpatient Center Boston, located in the Charlestown Navy Yard. To make an appointment, please call 617.952.6220 to learn more about the program or how to donate.


About Spaulding Rehabilitation

A member of Partners HealthCare, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network includes Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, its main campus the new 132-bed facility in Charlestown, which is a national model for environmental and inclusive design as well as Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge and two skilled nursing facilities, as well as twenty-four outpatient sites throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Spaulding strives to continually update and improve its programs to offer patients the latest, high-quality care through its leading, expert providers. Spaulding has been awarded a Model Systems designation in three specialty areas- Brain Injury, Burn Injury Rehabilitation, and Spinal Cord Injury - by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. Spaulding is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School as well as the official rehabilitation hospital of the New England Revolution. Spaulding is the only rehabilitation hospital in New England continually ranked since 1995 by U.S. News and World Report in its Best Hospitals survey with a #6 ranking in 2015-2016. For more information, please visit