Cohen Center for Health and Recovery from Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases
This Center for adults & children provides affordable care, training, and research treatments.
The Cohen Center for Health and Recovery, combining patient care and research for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, will soon be launched at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. To keep updated on when the Center is ready to open, please fill out our Contact Us form.
The Cohen Center for Health and Recovery from Tick-Borne Diseases, supported by a $16 million gift from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, will be the first in New York City to offer dedicated evaluation and treatment for people with acute and chronic forms of Lyme and related diseases. The gift also establishes a new national clinical trials network that will focus on identifying more effective treatments for patients with acute and chronic manifestations of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. For more information on the Clinical Trials Component, please see our CTN page.
“There is a growing need for evidence-based treatments for patients with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases,” said Anil Rustgi, MD, interim executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “This generous gift from the Cohen Foundation will allow us to build on our faculty’s expertise in Lyme and tick-borne disease patient care and research, providing access to comprehensive, coordinated treatment.”
The Need for Access to Care and Research
The estimated incidence of Lyme disease in the United States has been steadily rising, to approximately 476,000 newly diagnosed and treated cases annually. Each year, despite antibiotic treatment, approximately 10-20% of these new infections will lead to distressing and potentially disabling symptoms, such as severe fatigue, joint and muscle pain, neurologic symptoms, and cognitive problems, that may last for months or years.
Few physicians have expertise in treating the acute and chronic aspects of tick-borne diseases, making it difficult for patients to find high-quality, specialized care. In addition, little research has been done to determine which treatments are most effective for lingering symptoms, which can interfere with daily activities and work.
“Like COVID-19 ‘long-haulers,’ many people with tick-borne diseases were completely well until their infection triggered a cascade of chronic, multi-system effects,” says Brian Fallon, MD, director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University and director of the Cohen Center. “A comprehensive evaluation takes time. In addition, the cost of care for patients with chronic symptoms can be prohibitive, requiring multiple visits to physicians who may not be aware of the latest research on tick-borne illnesses. Our center will be the first to address all of these issues by offering access to affordable care with experienced physicians while at the same time integrating research and physician training into our clinical model.”
The Center Plan
Situated at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center Campus on the west side of northern Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, this translational clinical Center will provide affordable care, conduct research, and educate a new generation of clinicians. The interdisciplinary spectrum of services for children and adults will combine traditional medicine with integrative and neuropsychiatric therapies. The Center will also provide training for Family Medicine fellows, residents and medical students. Research and clinical care will be interwoven to optimize individual and public health impact. Given the need for office renovations, initial patient evaluations will be conducted virtually during the summer of 2021. When the Center’s new clinical space in the Neurological Institute is ready to open in the Fall of 2021, in-person evaluations and treatment will start.
Many patients with chronic symptoms related to tickborne illness are misdiagnosed with conditions such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, or even a psychosomatic disorder,” says Shannon Delaney, MD, co-director of the Cohen Center. “Children infected with a tick-borne illness may have dramatic and disabling neurologic or psychiatric symptoms that seem to occur overnight."
Cohen Center patients will be invited to enroll in clinical treatment studies, as well as brain imaging studies, biomarker, diagnostic, and neuropsychiatric studies. Together this research will contribute to our public health goal which is to guide clinicians in choosing more effective and appropriately targeted treatments.
“Our educational component will allow us to create a pipeline of family medicine physicians with experience in caring for patients with the unique and varied set of symptoms associated with tick-borne diseases,” says Krishna Desai, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of family and integrative medicine at the center.
The Clinical Team
Brian Fallon, MD, MPH, director of the Cohen Center for Health and Recovery from Tick-Borne Diseases, is professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a physician-scientist with expertise in disorders intersecting medicine, neurology, and psychiatry. He is co-author of “Conquering Lyme Disease” with Dr. Jenifer Sotsky (Columbia University Press, 2017). He is also director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, established in 2007 with funding by the Global Lyme Alliance, Inc and the Lyme Disease Association, Inc. Dr. Fallon completed his residency in psychiatry and NIH fellowship in biological psychiatry and clinical trials research at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Fallon has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, has received numerous NIH and foundation grants, and has served on HHS, NIH, and CDC committees related to Lyme and Tick-borne diseases.
Shannon Delaney, MD, co-director of the Cohen Center, is assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and is board-certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. Dr. Delaney completed her residency training in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and fellowship training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Delaney specializes in complex neuropsychiatric presentations of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Dr. Delaney’s NIH research fellowship focused on immune and infectious biomarkers of psychosis. She specializes in seeing children and adults with complex neuropsychiatric presentations, especially those with suspected Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses, as well as those with Pediatric Acute onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). Recent research has focused on the new tickborne illness Borrelia miyamotoi.
Krishna Desai, MD, director of family and integrative medicine at the Cohen Center, is assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Desai is dual-board certified in Family and Integrative Medicine, having completed residency in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center and fellowship training in Integrative Medicine at University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Desai has a specific expertise in treating adults and children with severe chronic illnesses. Dr. Desai is Director of the Integrative Medicine Consultation Clinic at the Center for Family and Community Medicine at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where she also trains Columbia medical students and residents.