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Alexia Belperron, PhD

Director of STEM Fellowships; Research Scientist, Rheumatology; Instructor Mol Biophys & Biochem; Lecturer MCDB

Contact Information

Alexia Belperron, PhD

Research Summary

My research is focused on infections transmitted by ticks, in particular Lyme Disease, Babesia, and relapsing fever. I am interested in understanding the diseases caused by these infections, in particular those mediated by the immune system. I am also interested in developing better diagnostics for these infections.

Specialized Terms: Vector-borne diseases; Lyme disease; Babesia; Relapsing fever spirochetes; Immunology; Diagnostics; Ticks; Intra-vital imaging; Optical tweezers

Extensive Research Description

My current research is primarily focused on understanding the immune responses and disease pathogenesis during B. burgdorferi infections. I am particularly interested in early immune responses during infection, and the role of marginal zone B cells. We are using several novel technologies to study the spirochetes including intra-vital microscopy and optical tweezers. With intra-vital microscopy we are studying both the motility and location of spirochetes in infected mice. We are also using intra-vital microscopy to analyze the joints of the mice in the hopes of better understanding the development of Lyme arthritis. In collaboration with the Dufresne lab in the Engineering and Physics departments, we are using optical tweezers to better understand the biomechanics of spirochete movement. Spirochete movement is crucial for the bacteria's ability to invade different tissues, and also plays a role in their ability to escape immune destruction.

In addition to studying immune responses to infection, we are also working to develop better diagnostic tests for Lyme disease based on our deeper understanding of the types of immune responses that are generated. We are collaborating with L2 diagnostics on several different projects.

In addition to Lyme disease, Ixodes ticks carry several other pathogens and we are also interested in studying the Babesia parasite, as well as the newly identified human pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi.


Research Interests

Babesia; Lyme Disease; Relapsing Fever; Ticks; Global Health; Disease Transmission, Infectious; Borrelia burgdorferi

Public Health Interests

Infectious Diseases; Tick-borne Diseases

Selected Publications