BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University and Southern Tier Lyme Support, Inc. are co-sponsoring a Lyme Disease Conference from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Innovative Technologies Complex, 85 Murray Hill Rd., Vestal. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at www.southerntierlymesupport.org.

The conference will feature Bahgat Sammakia, vice president for research at Binghamton University, and Binghamton University Lyme disease researchers Ralph M. Garruto and Amanda Roome. The conference will also include presentations by Igenex Laboratories, and regionally and nationally known Lyme disease experts Thomas Moorcroft, MD; and Richard Horowitz, MD, world-renowned LLMD and author of Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease. Both physicians are members of ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society.

Lyme disease is becoming a serious epidemic nationwide. It is the number one vector-borne disease in the United States, infecting over 300,000 people each year. This disease is affecting a significant amount of families and communities in the Southern Tier.

"Upstate New York is not immune to the emergence of Lyme disease, and raising community awareness through this conference is an important part of our mission to serve the communities in which we live," said Ralph Garruto, professor of biomedical anthropology at Binghamton University and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Garruto became involved with Lyme disease research through his former graduate student John Darcy, who chose to pursue Lyme disease as a line of inquiry for his master’s and doctoral work. "There are people in our own communities who are contracting the disease and, in some cases, suffering significantly. At Binghamton, we are approaching the problem from the ground up: from the ecological and biological aspects of the disease to the human impact."

Margaret Leone-Smith, an advocate and Lyme disease patient who represents Southern Tier Lyme Support, Inc., says that more research and attention needs to be devoted to preventing, diagnosing and treating Lyme disease.

"People, including clinicians, need to be informed and aware that they are at risk in their own communities," said Leone-Smith. "They also need to be aware that there can be serious, long-term consequences for untreated Lyme disease and that current testing is not very accurate."

Vendors will exhibit at the conference, and there will be multiple showings of the film Under Our Skin 2: Emergence, a documentary sequel to the Academy Award semifinalist film, Under Our Skin, produced and directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson, which details and documents the lives of Lyme disease sufferers.

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions. For more information and to register for the free event, go to www.southerntierlymesupport.org.

Storyhorse Documentary Theater will perform "the little things" at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, May 8, in the auditorium of African Road Elementary/Middle School, 600 South Benita Blvd., Vestal. This is a multimedia reading based on transcribed conversations with the family of Joseph Elone, a 17-year-old Poughkeepsie High School student and victim of Lyme disease. The performance was written by Jeremy Davidson, a Vestal Central School and Binghamton University alum, and directed by Mary Stuart Masterson. The performance will be followed by a talkback with Dr. Richard Horowitz, Lyme specialist. Free tickets can be reserved at www.southerntierlymesupport.org.