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Advancing global understanding of Lyme disease

Wisconsin’s natural habitat is a perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases since we share spaces with wildlife year-round. To address the prevalence of Lyme disease in our backyard, Gundersen’s Microbiology Research team focuses on vector-borne illnesses.  

Our research scientists were among the first to develop and standardize robust methodologies to study Lyme disease when it was unknown or misunderstood. Years later, our researchers helped develop the first Lyme disease vaccine for canines and went on to:  

  • Conduct STTT vs MTTT diagnostic studies
  • Develop and refine borreliacidal antibody testing
  • Develop and refine the understanding of the C6/PepC10 diagnostic paradigm
  • Carefully evaluate real-world usage of various diagnostic modalities for Borrelia species across several decades to assess their utility

Our research team dedicates itself now to understanding the immunology of the disease in humans so that it can develop a test for detecting it and a vaccine that will protect everyone who enjoys our natural habitats. 

Lyme disease researcher in lab using equipment.

Support our Lyme disease research

We can’t continue our ground-breaking work without you. Generous donations provide our state-of-the-art equipment for diagnostics and research and the space to explore cutting-edge methodologies and techniques that are resource intensive. You accelerate our work. You help find answers. 

Donate online
  • 500

    archived and characterized samples from confirmed Anaplasma, Babesia and Borrelia patients

  • 1,500

    PCR tests for Anaplasma, Borrelia and Babesia annually

  • 1,270

    archived and characterized Lyme serology samples

Lyme disease researchers

Lyme disease researcher Arick Sabin in white coat at research lab.jpg
Laboratory director

Arick Sabin, DO

(608) 775-2817

Email Dr. Sabin
Lyme disease researcher using microscope in research lab.
Research scientist

Steven Lovrich, PhD

(608) 775-3743

Email Dr. Lovrich
Female lyme disease researcher in research lab.
Research technologist

Brooklynn Scholze

(608) 775-3743

Email Brooklynn
Female Lyme disease researcher smiling at camera while working.
GRETL diagnostics medical laboratory scientist

Emilee Francksen

Email Emilee


Clinical evaluation of a Borrelia modified two-tiered testing (MTTT) shows increased early sensitivity for Borrelia burgdorferi but not other endemic Borrelia species in a high incidence region for Lyme disease in Wisconsin
Published on: 2022-11-12

A modified two-tiered testing algorithm (MTTT; ZEUS Scientific) for Borrelia burgdorferi was recently FDA-cleared. We evaluated the MTTT algorithm to confirm Lyme disease and compared the findings in parallel with those obtained using standard two-tiered testing (STTT). Medical records from patients who submitted sera for laboratory confirmation of Lyme-like disease were reviewed. Three hundred twenty patient samples were run by the STTT and MTTT approaches and the results compared. Positive...

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Optimized infection control practices augment the robust protective effect of vaccination for ESRD patients during a hemodialysis facility SARS-CoV-2 outbreak
Published on: 2022-07-22

CONCLUSIONS: Prompt recognition of an infection cluster and rapid intervention efforts successfully ended the outbreak. Alongside consistent adherence to core infection prevention measures, vaccination was highly effective in reducing disease incidence and morbidity in this vulnerable population.

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Emergence and onward transmission of a SARS-CoV-2 E484K variant among household contacts of a bamlanivimab-treated patient
Published on: 2022-03-01

The implementation of monoclonal antibody therapeutics during the COVID-19 pandemic altered the selective pressures encountered by SARS-CoV-2, raising the possibility of selection for resistant variants. Within-host viral evolution was reported in treated immunocompromised individuals but whether this signifies a real risk of onward transmission is unclear. We used a regional SARS-CoV-2 sequencing program to monitor lineages with clinically relevant variants in identified patients, which...

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Outbreak or pseudo-outbreak? Integrating SARS-CoV-2 sequencing to validate infection control practices in a dialysis facility
Published on: 2021-08-10

CONCLUSIONS: With high community prevalence, epidemiological data alone is insufficient to deem a case cluster an outbreak. Cluster evaluation with genomic data, when available with a short turn-around time, can play an important role in infection prevention and control response programs.

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Detection of antibodies to decorin-binding protein A (DbpA) and DbpB after infection of dogs with Borrelia burgdorferi by tick challenge
Published on: 2020-03-21

We characterized the antibody response to decorin-binding protein A (DbpA) or DbpB from immune serum samples collected from 27 dogs infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by Ixodes scapularis ticks. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to DbpA or DbpB were rarely detected, but high levels of IgG antibodies to DbpA were detected in 16 of 27 of the immune sera collected 1 mo after infection, 20 of 25 of the sera collected after 2 mo, and each of the 23, 17, or 11 serum samples evaluated after 3, 4, or 5...

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Glass bottles lined up in lab.

Lyme disease research milestones

Microbiology Research funding provided by donors like you and Gundersen Medical Foundation allowed our team to:  

  • Develop the Borreliacidal Assay, a test method that serves as the foundation of Lyme research and development
  • Improve diagnostic capabilities for zoonotic disease in our region
  • Develop a patented and licensed Lyme disease vaccine for dogs  
  • Collaborate with novel diagnostic technologies, include T2, ChromaCode and more
  • Continue development of next-generation Lyme disease diagnostic testing in the era of Modified Two-Tier Testing (MTTT)
Gundersen has consistently valued medical research because of the immediate and long-term impact. Our continued study of Lyme disease will help us provide the highest quality of care to our patients, while contributing to the larger medical and scientific communities.
Portrait of doctor Stephen Shapiro.
See Dr. Shapiro's provider profile

More from Gundersen Research Institute

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1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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