The National Institutes of Health–National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded Laura Runyen-Janecky, associate professor of biology at the University of Richmond, a three-year, $344,059 grant to continue her work on bacteria carried by tsetse flies and their potential implications for tsetse-borne disease.

Runyen-Janecky’s project, “Sodalis Glossinidius Iron Acquisition,” will be conducted with research assistance from Richmond undergraduates and in collaboration with professors Brian Weiss and Oleg Kruglov in the laboratory of Serap Aksoy in Yale University’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine. Runyen-Janecky was a visiting associate professor at Yale in 2010. 

The research relates to a tsetse fly bacterium that carries the parasite causing African sleeping sickness. Runyen-Janecky’s long-term scientific goals include identifying the metabolic and physiological processes that facultative intracellular bacteria employ to survive and/or multiply within their hosts, as well as the elements that regulate gene expression in those environments. Understanding those processes may yield information to help control tsetse-borne disease.

Funds will be used for employing undergraduate students for summer research, materials, supplies and travel to present results.

Runyen-Janecky has taught at Richmond since 2002. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has received a number of honors for her research, including other NIH grants, and for her teaching, including the university’s 2009 Distinguished Educator Award.

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Professor of Biology
Bacterial Symbioses