Sara L Zimmer

PhD, Duluth Campus Faculty Liaison to the Medical School Office of Faculty Affairs

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Gene regulation and metabolism in kinetoplastids (trypanosomatid parasites)

Willing to speak to media


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Laboratory Mission Statement. We use molecular and biochemical approaches in discerning fundamental pathways of gene expression and their regulation in the Kinetoplastids, prokaryotic protozoans responsible for several neglected tropical diseases. We stress the utilization and/or adaptation of state-of-the art technologies to solve long-standing questions in the molecular parasitology field, knowing that this is the most effective way to move the field forward. The basic knowledge we acquire is an essential platform from which others or ourselves can build programs in anti-parasitic drug discovery. Additionally, training scientists in basic research will allow our mission to extend to other fields, as these students and trainees move on to future positions.  Finally, we believe in collaboration between lab members and with others in multiple scientific disciplines as the way to make optimal progress in today’s research environment.

Research overview. Many parasitic human pathogens are vector transmitted including T. cruziT. brucei, and the closely related Leishmania spp. T. cruzi is transmitted by the “kissing bug” and T. brucei by the tsetse fly. The environments of the human and insect hosts differ in temperature, pH, immune defenses, osmolarity, and nutrient availability. Therefore, trypanosomes transition through different life stages at which they are adapted to cope with the unique conditions of that stage. Often the same trypanosome species in different life stages appears morphologically very different, and metabolism differs to cope the nutrient availability of the environment. We study the trypanosome gene expression changes that are necessary for survival at different life stages.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Molecular Biology, Cornell University

Award Date: Apr 1 2008

BS, Chemical Engineering, Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Award Date: May 1 1996

Postdoctoral Fellow, SUNY Buffalo

Sep 1 2008Aug 20 2013

PhD thesis work, Boyce Thompson Institute

May 1 2003Jun 30 2008

External Positions

Member, RNA Society


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