On Wednesday, Dec. 16th, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation donated $6.5 million to Lyme disease research. The donation is the largest private contribution ever given to Lyme disease research, according to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. The gift will support Bay Area Lyme’s mission of using new scientific research and innovations to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure.
“I was shocked to learn how many people suffer from Lyme disease in silence, and how much we still need to do to raise awareness and help find a cure,” said Alex Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “This gift is incredibly personal to me as I have experienced, first-hand, the chronic and debilitating side effects of this relatively unknown disease. We share Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s desire to find a cure for Lyme disease and hope that this gift will help pave the way to that important work.”
All of the money donated by the foundation will go toward research efforts as all administrative expenses of Bay Area Lyme Foundation are covered through 2019 by a considerable donation from The Laurel Foundation.
Linda Giampa, executive director of Bay Area Lyme Foundation, was elated by the contribution. She said, “This is a truly meaningful donation as it will help us continue our efforts to encourage collaboration among researchers, and significantly increase the amount of research currently being conducted. A great amount of research is needed to understand the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. This philanthropic grant will help us continue to fund innovative Lyme disease projects and, more importantly, attract new research talent into the field of Lyme.”
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease cases in the Northeast alone have spiked by over 320 percent since 1991. Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC. In 2014, it was the fifth most common Nationally Notifiable disease. Number of celebrities has shared their stories with the disease including Haute 100 lister Yolanda Foster and daughter Bella, Avril Lavigne, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Lynn Sigler, among others. Lyme is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans via bites from infected blacklegged ticks.
Haute 100 lister Steven A. Cohen founded the organization alongside his wife, Alex. Since its inception in 2001, the foundation has been committed to inspiring philanthropy and community service by creating awareness, offering guidance, and leading by example to show the world what giving can do.