Yi-Pin Lin, Ph.D.
Lyme Disease Bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi Credit: NIAID, NIH

Lyme disease, transmitted by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common vector-borne disease in U.S. Vector-borne diseases are carried by mosquitoes, ticks or fleas. The bacterium is introduced during a tick bite and then survives in the bloodstream and can spread to the heart, joints, or brain. Infections can result in arthritis, neurological abnormalities or carditis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30,000 people are infected annually. The vast majority are in the Midwestern and Northeastern states, with a particular concentration in parts of New York State. Therefore, understanding the Lyme disease bacterium is of high priority in the Wadsworth Center research plan.

Yi-Pin Lin, Ph.D., a Lyme disease research scientist, joins the Wadsworth Center in February 2016. Yi-Pin received his Ph.D. degree from the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, and then did his postdoctoral work at the Tufts University School of Medicine. There he studied how the interaction of host extracellular matrix or serum components with Lyme disease bacteria promotes bacterial survival in tick and mammalian hosts.

Adaptation to the extremely different environments of both tick and mammalian hosts poses a formidable challenge for bacterial survival. Bacterial factors that facilitate colonization in either one or both hosts, are a key component of bacterial survival and thus the ability to cause disease. Identification of these factors could lead to the discovery of methods to weaken or kill the bacteria in the host, or to block the transmission of bacteria between these hosts. Yi-Pin has combined biochemical and genetic techniques, such as next generation sequencing and mouse models, to establish an integrative approach to identify these factors of the Lyme disease bacterium B. burgdorferi.

Yi-Pin will continue his work at the Wadsworth Center to apply this approach to comprehensively reveal novel B. burgdorferi factors used to escape the host immune system and facilitate the development of Lyme disease. Illumination of mechanisms employed by B. burgdorferi to interact with each host will also promote the development of prophylactic and therapeutic approaches to improve human health. 

Related link:

CDC: Lyme Disease

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