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The HHS Office of the CTO announces a “Lyme Innovation” initiative

The Lyme Innovation initiative aims to accelerate innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases through the development of next-gen technologies, interdisciplinary collaborations, and data-driven innovations for tick-borne diseases.

Lyme Innovation Logo

There is a persistent need in the market for improved medical products to prevent, diagnose, and treat Lyme disease, which is a tick-borne bacterial infection that impacts all 50 states and impacts millions. The number of individuals with tick borne infections is increasing. Therefore, the need for innovation in this space continues to intensify.

The 2018 report from the Tick Borne Disease Working Group, calls for “a strategic approach to public-private partnerships and collaborations, so that tick-borne diseases as a national priority will not only involve the Federal Government, but will also harness the power, resources, commitment, and innovation across all sectors—industry, academia, non-profit organizations, as well as local, state, and other governments.” The report recommends Federal action now.

Through the Lyme Innovation initiative, the HHS Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) aims to accelerate innovation by bringing together these key stakeholders to advance solutions for tick-borne diseases by incentivizing innovation and lowering barriers in the clinical trial, market approval, coverage, and payment phases of new product development. Lyme Innovation is broadly defined so it may help address prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

The vision for Lyme Innovation will evolve based on individual feedback from key stakeholders including patients, researchers, and providers. Currently, the Lyme Innovation initiative is in the exploratory, scoping phase. Several pilot projects are underway at the HHS Office of the CTO to support this work, each of which prioritizes community engagement and stakeholder feedback in different ways: 

  • The Opportunity Project (TOP) tech sprint: A 14-week design sprint where tech teams use agile methods and federal open data datasets to develop new digital health tools. Three of 10 TOP tech teams are developing digital tools related to Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
  • Lyme Innovation Roundtable: On December 4th at HHS headquarters in Washington, DC, the HHS Office of the CTO will convene diverse stakeholders and solicit feedback from individual stakeholders. Similar to the HHS Data Roundtable on opioids, the roundtable purpose is to harness the power of collaboration, data-driven innovation, and emerging technologies for Lyme and tick-borne diseases by:
    1. Identify high-value datasets and available resources from all sectors.
    2. Exploring public-private partnerships and strategic opportunities across sectors.
  • Lyme Innovation listening sessions: Over the next year, the HHS Office of the CTO will host a number of virtual listening sessions to hear feedback from individual stakeholders including patients, advocates, providers, and researchers.

To join an upcoming Lyme Innovation listening session or otherwise get involved, please email: [email protected]

We need *YOU* and your input to help guide Lyme innovation, so that Federal government and HHS can help find ways to identify, prevent, and treat tick-borne diseases.

Innovation often comes from unexpected places. Solutions demand all hands on deck! Join us and use #LymeTippingPoint to join the conversation online.

Editor’ s note: For this initiative, the HHS Office of the CTO broadly defines “Lyme” to include acute Lyme disease, chronic Lyme disease, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), and other tick-borne diseases that may co-occur with Lyme disease.

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