In the Schulz lab, we use the African trypanosome as a model system to understand how organisms reprogram themselves in response to changes in their environment. African trypanosomes are the causative agent of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle. Sleeping sickness is fatal if untreated, and the economic burden due to losses in livestock is estimated to be over $2 billion per year in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is endemic. African trypanosomes are protozoan parasites that are transmitted to the mammalian host through the bite of the tsetse fly. We aim to understand how the parasites adapt to different environments in the fly and mammalian bloodstream, with an eye toward manipulating this adaption to help fight disease.

                    Trypanosome photo by Susan Vaughan