Wendy Adams Wendy Adams
TBDRP Consumer Reviewer
(Photo Provided)

Wendy Adams has been an advocate for the Lyme and tick-borne disease community since 2012 when she helped to establish the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a patient-driven, research-focused organization that aims to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. Wendy’s inspiration for becoming an advocate for tick-borne disease research is her years-long journey for her own accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease and subsequent years of treatment challenges. When Wendy first fell ill in the late 1990s, her symptoms included crippling exhaustion after walking around the block, swollen joints, and issues with cognitive functions such as memory and word recognition. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis was a major challenge, until 2004 when one of Wendy’s doctors, who herself had been diagnosed with Lyme, suggested that Lyme disease may be the culprit. Once diagnosed, seeking and managing her treatment became a full-time job. This involved many specialists to assess her cardiac and neurological symptoms and, ultimately, a complicated treatment regimen. Through the expertise of many competent doctors and support from her husband and family, Wendy no longer experiences any of the debilitating symptoms that once kept her from living her life. She now works to encourage and promote research that will one day allow others to more easily obtain an accurate diagnosis and effective treatments for their tick-borne infections.

Prior to becoming an advocate for tick-borne disease patients and research, Wendy spent 20 years in the biotechnology industry, directing business strategy and corporate development for companies working in infectious disease, cancer, and autoimmunity. Based on this experience, she has brought to the Lyme advocacy community a deep understanding of diagnostics, research and development, and the infectious disease space. Currently, in her role as Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s research grant director, Wendy oversees the scientific grant funding operations for the organization. She works with her colleagues at Bay Area Lyme, scientists, clinicians, government officials, donors, and the patient community to define emerging and critical patient and research needs in the field of tick-borne diseases and identifies scientists embarking on innovative research that is grounded in a strong scientific basis. Over the past decade, Bay Area Lyme Foundation has become a leading public not-for-profit sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S., providing funding to leading scientists from top institutions to promote research of novel diagnostics and therapeutics. This patient-driven foundation also funds ecological research to understand the expansion of tick habitats and human infection risk, and to increase awareness of these diseases.

Since 2020, Wendy has served as a consumer programmatic reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Tick-Borne Disease Research Program (TBDRP). With input from the tick-borne disease patient and medical research communities, the TBDRP funds innovative and impactful research of numerous bacterial, viral, and parasitic tick-borne infections in the areas of disease pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The program strives to support research that not only demonstrates short-term impact on patients, but also on Service Members and their families, knowing that helping to mitigate the impacts of tick-borne diseases is crucial for mission readiness.

Together with her Bay Area Lyme colleagues and fellow TBDRP programmatic reviewers, Wendy aims to change the trajectory of tick-borne diseases so others do not have to endure the years of misdiagnosis and failed treatments that she initially experienced. She believes that with continued funding support and the formation of research collaborations, novel research concepts offer hope in reaching this goal. On the TBDRP programmatic panel, Wendy advocates for patient needs by ensuring that scientifically meritorious applications also address tick-borne disease concerns that present the greatest burden, and therefore have the utmost impact, on the patient community. Above all, she is humbled at how supportive and proud her family is of the work she does in patient and scientific advocacy. Through Wendy’s work, her daughters have seen first-hand the critical role of advocates in guiding and enabling important research into complex diseases, as well as the importance of standing up for what they believe in and amplifying the voices of those who are debilitated from their chronic illnesses.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision.


Last updated Friday, March 24, 2023