Serap Aksoy, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)

Research Departments & Organizations

School of Public Health: Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases | YSPH Global Health Concentration

Yale Institute for Global Health

Global Health Studies

MacMillan Center: African Studies

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Interests

Global Health; Trypanosomiasis, African; Tsetse Flies

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.


  • Human African Trypanosomiasis Control Uganda (2012)

    Develop innovative vector control for HAT

  • Human African Trypanosomiasis Control Uganda (2012)

    Develop innovative vector control for HAT

  • Tsetse Transmitted African Trypanosomiasis Kikuyu, Kenya (2011)

    Tsetse transmitted Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) has re-emerged and poses a major public health crises in Sub Sahara. There are no vaccines and efficacious drugs for control of parasite infections in the mammalian host. In contrast, control of the vector insect tsetse populations can...

  • Evidence Based Control Strategies of Sleeping Sickness Vectors Kikuyu, Kenya (2011)

    This Fogarty International Research Collaboration award (FIRCA) proposal is on tsetse fly population genetics in order to support the ongoing Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) control activities in East Africa. The parent grant (NIAID R01Al068932, 01/01/2008 to 12/31/2012) addresses the molecular...

  • Trypanosome, Tsetse Kenya (2010)

    Tsetse Transmitted African Trypanosomiasis (Africa)

  • Trypanosome, tsetse Kenya (2010)

    Molecular Aspects of Tsetse and Trypanosome Transmission

  • trypanosome, tsetse Kenya (2010)

    New Strategies for African Trypanosomiasis Control

  • Tsetse Kenya (2010)

    Evolutionary Genetics of Tsetse and its Symbionts

  • Tsetse, tryopanosomiasis Kenya (2010)

    Tsetse Fecundity Reduction for Trypanosomiasis Control

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Kenya (2010)

    Tsetse - Trypanosome Interaction

  • Education and Training China (2010)

    Li Foundation Yale-China Training Program

  • Genetics - Yale-Fudan Collaborative Program China (2008)

    The Yale-Fudan Collaborative Program is a co-training program between Yale and Fudan University. Within this program, pre- and postdoctoral students from the Genetics Department of Fudan University conduct research at Yale for a two-year period and return to China to receive their degrees from...

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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Contact Info

Serap Aksoy, PhD
Office Location
60 College Street, Ste 626 LEPH
New Haven, CT 06510
Mailing Address
Epidemiology of Microbial DiseasesPO Box 208034
60 College Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8034

Curriculum Vitae

Aksoy lab