Speakers at Sheffield 2006

Fifth UK Tick Borne Diseases Conference
24th June 2005
Tapton Hall, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

Professor Sam T. Donta MD

Professor Sam Donta trained for his medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. After initial experience he became a specialist in the field of Infectious Diseases holding many academic posts, notably at the Universities of Iowa, Connecticut and Boston, in disciplines related to Infectious Disease. He also has extensive interests in the fields of Biochemistry, Biomolecular Medicine, the study and treatment of Veterans of the First Gulf War (1990-91) and the study of Lyme Disease. Lifetime research interests have been pathogenic mechanisms of infectious disease using tissue culture model systems with especial reference to the study of microbial toxins, Lyme Disease, Gulf War Illness, gene fusion toxins and immunotoxins, Clostridium difficile toxins and the modulation of receptors.

Professor Donta’s current research relates to:

(1) Lyme Disease: (a) A novel neurotoxin of Borrelia burgdorferi, (b) An intracellular model of Borrelia burgdorferi infection and (c) Clinical treatment trials of Lyme Disease treatments.

(2) Gulf War Illness: Multicenter Treatment Trials: (a) Antibiotic Treatment of Gulf War Illness, (b) Multimodal Treatment of Gulf War Illness.

A holder of many Honours and Awards in the field of Infectious Disease, we are especially privileged to welcome Professor Donta for the second time to address our conference.

Dr. Mrs. Laurence Meer-Scherrer MD

Dr. Meer qualified as a doctor at the University of Bern in Switzerland. As a postgraduate student she also studied Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Lung diseases. In 1980, she studied smoking and lung disease and this led to her being awarded the title of Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Meer has also worked extensively in the field of Psychiatry and this work has included some spells of teaching students.

In addition, Dr. Meer holds a Swiss Board of General Medicine license and specialist certificates in Emergency Medicine, Technical Radiography and Laboratory Medicine. She is established at her practice in Flamatt, Switzerland.

Not only is Dr. Meer a very busy clinician seeing her patients, but she has also found time to publish some research papers. In 1999 the Swiss journal, Bulletin Bundesamt fur Gesundheit: published her first observations of the parasitic, tick-borne blood disease Babesiosis in Switzerland entitled ‘Babesiosis nun auch in der Schweiz.’ (Babesiosis is now also present in Switzerland). In 2004, the Journal of Current Microbiology published her paper on Babesia microti infection in Europe. Her latest publication, along with colleagues, is entitled ‘Lyme disease associated with Alzheimer’s disease.’ It refers to the case history of a patient with both conditions although the paper makes no claim for causality. It can be found in Curr Microbiol. 2006 Apr;52(4):330-2. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

Dr. Meer is a member of the Swiss Medical Association and the Swiss General Medicine Association. Her longstanding interest in the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease also led her to become a member of the Board of Directors of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) and it is from her work here that many of us know her. Dr. Meer has twenty years of experience in General Medicine, Psychiatry and Diagnosis and Treatment of Tick-borne diseases. This is her third visit to speak to doctors and patients in the United Kingdom about these complex diseases.

Dr. Susan O’Connell

Dr. O’Connell will speak to us this afternoon about ‘Diagnostic Criteria, Guidelines and Test Methods.’ For clarification, Dr. O’Connell is, on this occasion, speaking solely in her personal capacity.

Dr. David C. Owen

Dr. Owen qualified as a doctor at the University of Wales in 1984. His post-graduate career has included appointments in Accident and Emergency medicine, hospital medicine and General Practice. Dr. Owen has on-going experience in the treatment of patients in an Accident and Emergency setting: for example, the surgical management of wounds, orthopaedic management of acute injuries including manipulations and the management of acute medical problems. Dr. Owen is legally qualified and has special experience in the preparation of reports for medico-legal purposes addressing issues such as fitness for work and medical negligence and has attended court as a medical expert.

In the last few years Dr. Owen has developed a special interest in tick-borne diseases. Dr. Owen is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS). Dr. Owen has attended the ILADS and Lyme Disease Association Conferences in Philadelphia. He acts as an advisor to the UK charity 'Lyme Disease Action' for whom he chaired the Fourth UK Conference on Tick-borne diseases in Sheffield last year. In 2006, Dr. Owen will again chair the Fifth Conference.

Helen Giles

This will be the second time that Helen has spoken to our conference. In 2005, she shared with us her experience as a carer for a severely affected patient, her partner David, who sadly died in 2004. Many will remember the eloquent talk she gave to us on that occasion. Helen herself is an academic, a senior lecturer, her speciality being science, food and nutrition. She has taken a particular interest in the relationship between her expertise and chronic illness and she will share with us today, some of her observations.

Dr. Andrew Wright

Dr. Wright qualified as a doctor in 1983 and subsequently trained as a General Practitioner. He still works part-time in NHS General Practice and until recently as a Hospital Practitioner in Genito-Urinary/HIV medicine, General Medicine and Gastroenterology, and Dermatology. He also runs an Integrative Medicine Practice in Bolton, Lancashire, UK. The practice combines allopathic and alternative therapies with a large amount of nutritional medicine. Dr. Wright includes giving medical advice to the UK Lyme and Borreliosis charity ‘Lyme Disease Action’ and also to ‘Action for ME’ the ME/CFS charity, within his sphere of activity. He was also a member of the Chief Medical Officer’s Working Group in England on ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndromes/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis’ (CFS/ME), an illness thought to be within the 'Fatigue Spectrum Disorders,' (FSD).

The research Dr. Wright has been involved in has included work with Dr. V. Pentreath at the University of Salford looking at the measurement of gram-negative endotoxins in the blood of ME/CFS patients. Dr. Wright has also worked with Dr. Roz Anderson, Principal Lecturer at the University of Sunderland in the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Science/Autism Research Unit, looking at the prevalence of toxic tryptophan metabolites in the urine of patients and controls. Dr. Wright has noted for some time that more patients than would be expected carry unusual bacterial isolates and has worked on this phenomenon with Dr. Milton Wainwright at the University of Sheffield amongst others. Dr. Wright is currently involved in novel microscopical studies on the blood of many patients with medically unexplained symptoms such as the conditions mentioned. He is the lead physician in the Bolton area for patients with the condition ME/CFS that often presents with a spectrum of symptoms very similar to those that occur in Lyme disease and/or borreliosis. The symptomatic similarity between the two conditions has been noted in recent research, including some at the University of Glasgow. Dr. Wright will give us an update on the recent findings.