Serap Aksoy is Professor of Epidemiology at the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health.
Dr. Aksoy received a BS from Vassar College and a PhD in Biology from Columbia University. After a postdoctoral fellowship in Yale School of Medicine, she joined the faculty at Yale School of Public Health. She has built a large program for investigations on tsetse flies and African trypanosomes, with direct implications and links for disease control in Africa. The overarching paradigm for her program is the interdisciplinary approach to investigation of disease transmission—spanning from basic research on vector and parasite biology in the laboratory to the population genetics/genomics of the vector and parasite in natural populations, and disease epidemiology in the field— in order to develop innovative control methods. Dr. Aksoy has led an international consortium, International Glossina Genome Initiative (IGGI), to develop genetics and genomics knowledge for tsetse flies since 2004, and together with her collaborators in Kenya and Uganda works to build research capacity in tsetse-transmitted diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Aksoy teaches courses in Vector Biology, as well as lecturing widely on topics of parasitology, epidemiology, and global health. Dr. Aksoy has published over 150 peer-reviewed research articles, numerous reviews and Editorials. She is a Fellow and Council Member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Dr. Aksoy has been a co-Editor-in-Chief of PLOS NTDs since 2008.
Shaden Kamhawi is an Associate Scientist at the Vector Molecular Biology Section of the intramural NIAID program at the National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland.
Dr. Kamhawi spent her early career years in Jordan, her birth country. In Jordan, Dr. Kamhawi focused on investigating leishmania/sand fly epidemiology in field settings where she characterized one of the first foci of zoonotic transmission by Leishmania tropica, a predominantly anthroponotic parasite. At NIAID, Dr. Kamhawi pioneered the use of natural transmission models for vector-borne diseases and made significant contributions to the vector biology field by emphasizing the importance of vectors in the initiation and establishment of vector-borne disease. Using models of Leishmania transmission by sand fly bites, Dr. Kamhawi demonstrated that sand fly gut mictobiota are egested during bites triggering a distinct immune response in the host that is essential for parasite establishment and dissemination; she also demonstrated that Leishmania parasites persist in skin depots at bite sites where they are accessible to sand flies contributing to maintenance of infection in vector populations; she also identified the only characterized midgut receptor for Leishmania attachment in a competent vector and demonstrated the feasibility of such targets as transmission-blocking vaccines. Dr. Kamhawi’s current interests continue to focus on exploring various facets of NTD vectors with emphasis on the host immune response to vector bites. She is currently an investigator on three active clinical protocols supported by NIAID and is also involved in clinical trials of novel vaccines for leishmaniasis that incorporate vector salivary molecules. Dr. Kamhawi’s interests in neglected diseases and her expertise in the field resulted in active collaborations with multiple international partners in Brazil, the Indian subcontinent, West Africa and the Middle East. She was fundamental in setting up the leishmaniasis and sand fly research laboratory for the NIAID-ICER-MALI at the University of Bamako and continues to support and collaborate with its investigators.
Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics.
Dr. Hotez is an internationally recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He leads the only product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, and Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and cornativiruses, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide.
He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemical parasitology from Rockefeller University in 1986 and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987.
Dr. Hotez has now authored more than 450 original papers and is the author of the acclaimed Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press), Blue Marble Health (Johns Hopkins University Press), and the recently released Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism (Johns Hopkins University Press).
Dr. Hotez served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and is a founding Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO, in 2017 the Distinguished Achievement award from B’nai B’rith, and in 2018 the Sustained Leadership Award from Research!America.