TOUCHED BY LYME: Remembering a Lyme disease pioneer
This week, our community has mourned the loss of Nick Harris, PhD, a pioneer in the field of Lyme disease testing and a staunch supporter of Lyme patients throughout the world.
If you have ever had an IGeneX test or have been treated by an ILADS-affiliated physician–you have benefited from his work.
In the 1990s. Dr. Harris developed a groundbreaking diagnostic test for Lyme disease and founded the IGeneX laboratory, which continues to be a leader in testing for tick-borne diseases.
He also co-founded the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)—a boon to Lyme-treating doctors and patients alike. In addition, he served many years on the board of LymeDisease.org and provided assistance to other Lyme advocacy groups throughout the world.
I asked some of my colleagues on the LymeDisease.org board of directors to share their thoughts and memories of Nick. Here’s what they said.
Phyllis Mervine, Founder and President of LymeDisease.org: “Nick Harris advised us, offered financial support when we needed it and volunteered to speak at our patient forums. He also fought for us.”
Dr. Christine Green: “Because of Nick Harris, thousands perhaps millions of patients found out they had a treatable problem for their pain, their brain and their heart. Because of his graciousness and brilliance, I was convinced to join the first medical association in my career, ILADS. We will miss him.”
Dr. Ray Stricker: “So sad to hear about Nick. He was the one who got me involved with ILADS many years ago, and he was always a powerful supportive voice in the Lyme community. We will miss his wit and charm as well as his pioneering spirit.”
CEO Lorraine Johnson: “Nick Harris had such a strong influence on me. When I first met him, he encouraged me to publish in peer-reviewed medical journals–which at that time was unthinkable for a patient to do. Of course, he changed the course of Lyme disease history by making available diagnostic testing using a different standard that was more accurate. He also was a terrific and remarkably kind human being.” (Note to readers: Lorraine has gone on to author or co-author more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.)
The staff and volunteers of LymeDisease.org extend our deepest sympathy to Nick Harris’ wife Aline and his whole family. And in his memory, we will continue to work for the future he strongly envisioned—one where people suffering from tick-borne disease can get properly tested, diagnosed and treated.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s Vice-president and Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.