A Better Way to Test for Lyme Disease in Ticks from Endemic Areas

Ashburn, Virginia
Raised of $14,575 Goal
Ended on 5/22/16
Campaign Ended
  • $2,357
  • 17%
  • Finished
    on 5/22/16

About This Project

Aperiomics is a company that provides Next-generation DNA and RNA sequencing to detect pathogens from samples, including humans and insects. From one sample, every pathogen can be identified in one test. The proposed project will adapt our existing technology for detection of Lyme Disease, as well as other pathogens from ticks. This test will be adapted to human testing in subsequent phases. The ultimate goal is a rapid, robust test for Lyme in all sample types.

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What is the context of this research?

Aperiomics is located in Loudoun County, Virginia (an endemic area for Lyme Disease) and we see the devastating effects this disease has. Lyme disease is caused by bites from bacteria-harboring ticks, but current testing does not adequately detect Lyme Disease (up to 70% diagnostic failure reported). Many questions about Lyme Disease remain unanswered, including basic knowledge about what type of sample to test and what co-infections may be complicating the disease. We have demonstrated the power of our technology through testing in turkeys, cattle, and humans. The successful outcome of this project will lead to a faster, better test for Lyme Disease.

Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Information

Lyme Disease Review Article

What is the significance of this project?

With over 300,000 cases of Lyme in the US alone and countless patients suffering from chronic infection, the significance of this project is clear. Having answers to these questions will allow us to be able to offer our testing service more quickly, thus being able to help doctors provide better patient care. Our project will define the potential pathogens harbored by deer ticks isolated from a Lyme-endemic area. This also allows us to develop the testing protocols and complex data analysis pipeline needed for future work. This project is the first step to developing a faster and better way to test for Lyme Disease than any test offered at present.

Editorial: Lyme disease: time for a new approach?

What are the goals of the project?

We will collect fifteen pooled deer tick samples from Loudoun County, Virginia, an area endemic for Lyme disease. We will extract DNA from ten tick samples and RNA from five of them. Both DNA and RNA will be sequenced on an Illumina sequencer to obtain 5 million reads per sample at minimum. We'll then analyze the samples using our novel data analysis tools for every bacteria, virus, parasite, and fungus. This will give us a baseline of pathogens harbored in deer ticks from an endemic area, and create the tools needed to next detect these in human blood, saliva, and urine samples.


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The budgeted items will allow completion of a controlled proof of concept study of 15 deer tick samples from an endemic area. This proof of concept will be used as the basis for a formal proof of feasibility study to begin within 4 months.

External funding will be sought to complete follow-on studies for testing in human samples.

Endorsed by

I am very excited about the potential for Aperiomics' test to provide definitive diagnoses to my clients, particularly the ones who are co-infected and who experience treatment failure. No longer will patients go from doctor to doctor in an effort to seek the elusive--and enormously expensive--diagnosis and subsequent targeted treatment plan.

Meet the Team

Crystal R Icenhour, PhD
Crystal R Icenhour, PhD


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Yuan Chen, PhD
Yuan Chen, PhD
VP of Research & Development


Aperiomics, Inc
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Cory Strope, Ph.D.
Cory Strope, Ph.D.
Bioinformatic Scientist


Aperiomics, Inc.
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Harsha K Rajasimha, PhD
Harsha K Rajasimha, PhD
Executive Consultant


Aperiomics, Inc., George Mason University
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Team Bio

Aperiomics is at the intersection of high-technology IT and biotechnology, providing services for pathogen detection through a novel combination of genomics and informatics. Aperiomics uses an unbiased sequencing & genomic analysis approach to identify microbes/pathogens in any sample. Aperiomics' services are a perfect fit for pathogen discovery, difficult cases of unknown etiology, pathogen surveillance, monitoring of natural animal populations, as well as longitudinal pathogen detection.

Crystal R Icenhour, PhD

In 2014, I was recruited to serve as founding CEO of Aperiomics, Inc. Aperiomics is a service laboratory specializing in harnessing the power of next-generation sequencing to improve world health. I am also an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases in their Department of Medicine.

Previous to Aperiomics, I was President and Chief Science Officer for Phthisis Diagnostics in 2006, located in Charlottesville, VA. Phthisis was a research and development company focused on development of easy-to-use molecular diagnostics for various infectious diseases.

Since my undergraduate student days and throughout my career, I have been heavily involved in leadership and business skills in addition to my scientific capabilities. My overall career goal is to bridge the translational gap between the two worlds of business and science.

While a postdoctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, I was the first to identify and characterize Pneumocystis melanins. I have authored seven patents, hold two issued patents, authored and co-authored 13 research articles and theses, and I have been a prolific speaker and presenter at scientific conferences. I have served on review panels for National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.

Following my undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa Department of Biological Sciences, I received my doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati Medical School of Graduate Studies in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Thoracic Diseases Research Unit at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and was a senior postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Medical Center’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

Yuan Chen, PhD

I am a Bioinformatics scientist with a strong interest in infectious disease. I received my PhD from the Chinese Academy of Science and recently completed a post-doctorate research fellowship at Duke University Health System. I have authored and co-authored 14 articles for professional journals and have a special interest in high-throughput automated next-generation sequencing, data analysis, personalized medicine, disease related variants, machine learning and big data.

While I come from a background in academia, I find working in a small company to be especially appealing since I like to work on things that help people. Research is very important, but it is often more remote and takes longer to see results in ways that affect people’s daily lives. I am excited by Aperiomics’ big market potential across industry segments. This is still an early-stage start-up company, but our business can play a significant role in the areas of human health, food safety, agriculture, and through monitoring animal populations for outbreak control.

Cory Strope, Ph.D.

I hold a PhD from the University of Nebraska in Computer Science with a specialty in Bioinformatics; I received my MS from the same university in Computer Science with a focus on Machine Learning. I have co-authored 10 publications and 11 presentations and posters. As my background in computer science deepened, I found myself increasingly drawn to applications in the biomedical field.

My interest began with comparative biology and the statistical application of evolution to bio sequences and, later on, the way bioinformatics centered on genomics. That led me to the area of computational toxicology, where I began dealing with big data and how to maximize its value. Following the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I examined the spread of toxins, including carcinogens, to fish populations.

Harsha K Rajasimha, PhD

Dr. Rajasimha has over 15 years of experience and widely recognized in the field of systems biology, Genomics BigData analytics, rare diseases and precision medicine for cancer. Dr. Rajasimha serves as an affiliate faculty of systems biology and co-director of the center for the study of chronic metabolic and rare diseases at George Mason University. Dr. Rajasimha is currently global vice president at Strand Life Sciences (www.strandls.com), a precision medicine company that develops genomics based clinical lab developed tests for Cancer and inherited diseases. He co-directs the center for metabolic and rare diseases at George Mason University. His contributions to the next- generation sequencing program at NEI were recognized by director's innovation award in 2012.Dr. Rajasimha founded Jeeva Informatics Solutions (www.Jeevadx.com) in 2013, a life science BigData Informatics Company that received the ‘Bioscience Company of the Year 2014’ award from Montgomery County, MD. He founded the non-profit organization for rare diseases India (www.ordindia.org) in 2013, serves as a board member and established mechanisms to raise awareness, accelerate rare disease diagnosis, policies and accessibility of treatments for patients in India. He has led strategic business development initiatives even while in technical and scientific roles for past employers.Dr. Rajasimha has authored over 15 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and is often invited speaker at international conferences. He has contributed to global standards initiatives such as BioPAX, DELSAGlobal, personalized medicine coalition, and the global alliance for genomics and health. He earned baccalaureate degree in computer science engineering from Bangalore University, Masters in Computer Science & Bioinformatics and Doctoral degree in interdisciplinary program genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology from Virginia Tech.

Additional Information

Aperiomics maintains strict quality standards. Sequencing will be performed in CLIA/CAP accredited laboratory.

Project Backers

  • 18Backers
  • 17%Funded
  • $2,357Total Donations
  • $130.94Average Donation
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