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Serap Aksoy RC 74 Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

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Serap Aksoy, a professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health and acting chair of the Department of Epidemiology, was among 120 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, which is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a scientist or engineer. Aksoy states that she hopes to contribute to the Academy by providing leadership in the area of insect transmitted diseases, microbial pandemics, climate change effects on infectious disease and in global health diplomacy.

Aksoy’s laboratory focuses on tsetse flies and the pathogenic parasites they transmit that cause fatal diseases in Africa. Aksoy was instrumental in sequencing the genomes of six tsetse fly species: “The genome discovery enabled us to launch various molecular studies on many aspects of this fly that can lead to its control.  Some examples are constituents in saliva which is injected into the human bite site (vaccines against these are being investigated to prevent their blood feeding ability), components of the smell apparatus (olfaction) which allowed us to develop more effective traps to reduce their numbers, and their gut microbiota in which we can now produce molecules that target the pathogenic parasites that cause disease.”

Aksoy views RC as a game changer in her life: “I loved my science classes.  I remember various science fairs that I attended on campus, as well as my trip to Ankara where our project was among the finalists.  The strong  inquiry-based education, our hands-on biology laboratory classes and love for natural sciences my teachers instilled in me were very influential in my career path.”

Published August 2021

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