Serap Aksoy, ESA Fellow (2015)

Dr. Serap Aksoy, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health, was elected as Fellow in 2015. She is internationally known for her work with vector genomics, genetics, and immune and symbiotic physiologies with a focus on tsetse flies and trypanosome parasites.

Aksoy was born in Turkey in 1955 and grew up in Istanbul. After coming to the United States, she received a B.S. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in biology from Columbia University. She joined Yale’s Department of Internal Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow and studied the molecular aspects of the African trypanosome parasite. In 1988, Aksoy joined the faculty at Yale School of Public Health, where she has built a large program for investigations on tsetse flies and African trypanosomes, with direct implications for disease control in Africa. She also served as the department chair from 2002–2010.

The overarching paradigm for Aksoy’s program is an interdisciplinary approach to investigation of disease transmission—spanning from basic research on vector, parasite, and symbiont biology in the laboratory to the population genetics/genomics of the vector and parasite in natural populations and disease epidemiology in the field. Her investigations have helped pioneer development of an innovative control method involving use of beneficial symbionts to render the insect’s environment inhospitable for disease-causing pathogens. She has collaborated extensively with colleagues in East Africa to build research capacity in tsetse-transmitted diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. She led an international consortium, International Glossina Genome Initiative (IGGI), to develop genetics and genomics knowledge for tsetse flies. The consortium recently completed the genome sequence of Glossina morsitans and the sequencing of five additional species.

Aksoy has published more than 120 peer-reviewed research articles and numerous reviews and editorials, as well as a book, Insect Transgenesis. Her work has been funded by diverse research agencies, including the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and World Health Organization, along with the Li Foundation and Ambrose Monell Foundation. She has been a leader within many professional societies, as well as many international, national, and university committees and boards. Aksoy has been the co-Editor-in-Chief of PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases since 2009.

She became a Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in 2013 and is an ASTMH Council Member (2014-2018). She is a Fulbright Scholar (2015) and winner of the 2015 Research Innovation and Leadership award given by the Connecticut Technology Council.

Aksoy and her husband, Sait Aksoy, live in Woodbridge, Connecticut, and enjoy kayaking in the lakes, rivers, and along shoreline communities.

(updated November, 2016)