Lyme Disease is now found in almost every county in California, an increase due in part to factors like suburban reforestation and a significant increase in the deer population. Its increase is also due to suburban sprawl into native wooded areas, according to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. An estimated 244,000-444,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in all 50 states.
We've written about the emerging Bay Area Lyme Foundation before and its aim to bring about long-awaited progress for a condition that desperately needs medical advances. We've also examined some of its supporters, such as Amazon exec Jeff Wilke and his wife Liesl, who suffers from the disease.
Another significant Bay Area Lyme Foundation supporter remains Laure L. Woods, who has worked as a researcher for Bay Area pharmaceutical companies such as Matrix Pharmaceutical and Genelabs Technologies. She also happens to serve as president of the board of directors of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. Woods' clinical research experience includes trials for treatment of cystic fibrosis, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer and infant nutrition. She also founded Woods Consulting to advise companies that test the safety and efficacy of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use.
Apart from these forces, Woods, too, knows the unfortunate first-hand effects of Lyme. As she has explained, "I continue to struggle with late-stage Lyme disease. If only I had gotten an accurate diagnosis and had been treated earlier, my life would be so much different."
Woods has pumped at least $6.2 million into the Bay Area Lyme Fund so far via her Laurel Foundation. One $5 million grant helped fund "scientific research related to Lyme disease, preparation of educational and outreach materials about Lyme disease and/or offset the costs of treatment for low-income people suffering from Lyme disease." Woods has also supported places like Lymelight Foundation, Breast Cancer Action, and Ravenswood Family Health Center.
Apart from health, Woods also supports the environment and animal organizations. Indeed, she holds a B.S. in animal science from University of California Davis. Through her foundation, she has supported places like Helen Woodward Animal Center, Environmental Volunteers, Marine Mammal Center, and Wildcare. Woods is also a significant supporter of Democratic candidates and liberal groups.
For a further examination of the Laurel Foundation's grantmaking, read our Bay Area guide on the charity linked below.
Related: Laurel Foundation: Bay Area Grants