Serap Aksoy, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)

Research Interests

Trypanosomiasis, African; Tsetse Flies; Global Health

Public Health Interests

Tropical Diseases

Research Summary

We study the molecular basis of biological complexity that determine host-microbe interactions, with a focus on tsetse flies, insect vectors of the protozoan parasite African trypanosomes. We investigate the molecular aspects of tsetse immunity during parasite transmission with the eventual goal of manipulating these responses to block disease transmission. Tsetse also harbors three maternally transmitted bacterial symbionts, which influence its nutritional and reproductive biology. We characterize the biology of each symbiont using biochemical, genetic, cellular and molecular techniques to understand the evolution and functional significance of each in the context of the dynamic host environment. We developed a paratransgenic approach where we exploit the commensal gut flora to express in the midgut mileu trypanocidal products that can block parasite development. The replacement of natural tsetse populations with the engineered parasite refractory flies can provide a novel approach for control of this devastating vector-borne disease.

Specialized Terms: African trypanosomes; Bacterial symbionts of tsetse flies

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Aksoy's research aims to understand the biology of host-pathogen interactions; in particular in tsetse flies, which transmit African trypanosomes and harbor multiple symbiotic microbes. Basic studies focus on the immune aspects of trypanosome transmission in tsetse, while the applied studies aim to harness this information to develop biologically sound and novel disease control strategies to interrupt parasite development in the tsetse vector. A second area of research focuses on the molecular and evolutionary basis of symbiosis. The biology of each tsetse symbiont is characterized using biochemical, genomic, genetic, cellular and molecular techniques to understand their functional significance in the context of host ecology.

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Serap Aksoy, PhD
Office Location
Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health
60 College Street, Ste 626 LEPH

New Haven, CT 06510
Mailing Address
Yale School of Public HealthPO Box 208034
60 College Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8034

Curriculum Vitae

Aksoy lab