Kobre named chairman of Global Lyme Alliance

Global Lyme Alliance's new chairman Robert Kobre.

Global Lyme Alliance’s new chairman Robert Kobre.

Please note: This is an updated article on the Global Lyme Alliance with corrections from the previous article. The story originally appeared in last week’s Greenwich Sentinel and online on June 18. 

Ah, summer. The gardens are back. The hiking is back. The lawn parties are back. And the ticks are back, too, bearing Lyme and other nasty diseases.

More than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed every year, making it the most common vector-borne disease in the country. Lyme can often be cured if you take antibiotics within a few weeks on infection. However, if it’s not diagnosed or treated early, Lyme can cause serious and long-lasting complications that can affect virtually every tissue and organ of the body.

Earlier this year, Stamford’s Lyme Research Alliance merged with New York’s Tick-Borne Disease Alliance. The new organization, named Global Lyme Alliance (GLA), carries on the mission of the LRA and TBDA, which is to conquer Lyme and tick-borne diseases through research and education.

GLA will move its Stamford office to Greenwich around the middle of July.

As a result of the merger, GLA is now the largest tick-borne disease organization in the nation, allowing for greater resources for research to improve Lyme disease diagnostics and treatments, while expanding education programs for the public and physicians.

LRA and TBDA first announced merger plans in May 2014 and a definitive agreement was signed in late February 2015.

Robert Kobre, CPA, MBA, a member of LRA’s Scientific Advisory Board and managing director of Credit Suisse, has been named chairman of the new Global Lyme Alliance. He has been involved with the Lyme Research Alliance LRA since 2009.

“Our teams worked diligently to complete the merger,” said Kobre. “Our two organizations share similar priorities and values, most notably a commitment to continuing a campaign of education for the general public and physicians, developing reliable 21st century diagnostics and treatments and finding cures for those still suffering from Lyme disease and its symptoms.”

Kobre first got involved with helping the Lyme community when he contracted Lyme disease himself. “I was looking for an organization that had the best track record and the best research on Lyme disease, when I was going through the ordeal of having Lyme disease,” Kobre said, talking about his search.

Today, GLA harnesses the individual strengths of LRA and TBDA. LRA has been the largest private non-profit funder of Lyme disease research at universities.

TBDA has produced many public awareness campaigns and initiated medical education and doctor referral programs.

“By consolidating our two groups, we will now be able to speak with a single, more powerful voice to advance the fight to end tick-borne illness forever,” said GLA Vice-Chairman Charles Balducci in a press release.

Lyme disease can be notoriously hard to diagnose especially since many of its symptoms mimic other illnesses, including the flu. There is no reliable way to test for Lyme, especially in its early stages, and no test to prove that Lyme bacteria are eradicated or that an individual is cured.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even after diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics, thousands of people, up to 20 percent of individuals thought to be infected each year, continue to experience lingering symptoms such as arthritis, fatigue, memory loss and impaired vision.

The ultimate goal for the GLA is to help Lyme patients find a reliable test and a cure for Lyme and tick-borne diseases.

“We have programs for any interest, if someone wants to get involved or donate to our work,” Kobre said. “Whether they want their money to go to research, or finding an accurate test, or education programs, or prevention, or whatever their interest is.”

GLA is currently developing a new website that is expected to go live in late summer. In the meantime, anyone interested in helping to fight Lyme disease can find information at Globallymealliance.org or Lymeresearchalliance.org.

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