Release Date: February 27, 2019
BUFFALO, NY — James (Jay) D. Bangs, PhD, Grant T. Fisher Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Immunology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, has been named a fellow of the American Society of Microbiology.
ASM fellows, recognized for their excellence, originality and leadership in the microbiological sciences, are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.
Bangs will be officially inducted into the ASM fellowship at the organization’s annual meeting in San Francisco in June.
For more than 35 years, Bangs has conducted research on African trypanosomes, single-celled parasites transmitted by the tsetse fly, which cause African sleeping sickness in humans, a fatal, re-emerging disease throughout sub-Saharan Africa. His pioneering research specializes in the biochemistry and cell biology of African trypanosomes and their secretory processes; it has illuminated the biosynthesis and trafficking of key virulence factors in this important human and veterinary parasite.
Bangs explained that because trypanosomes are eukaryotic cells, organized similarly to every cell in the human body, treatment of infection is not unlike cancer treatment in that chemotherapy against the parasite has harsh consequences for the patient. However, since infection is invariably fatal without intervention, new, more specific drugs are desperately needed. The goal of Bangs’ research is to define aspects of trypanosomal secretory processes that may provide novel pathways to new drugs to treat African sleeping sickness.
His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1994.
Bangs has organized the premier international meeting in his discipline—the Molecular Parasitology Meeting at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.—and mentored many microbiology students in his laboratory, and hundreds more globally as lecturer, instructor and director of the Biology of Parasitism course at the MBL.
He also served as an ad hoc and permanent member of the NIH Pathogenic Eukaryotes Study Section. He has served on the editorial boards of two of the field’s main journals, Eukaryotic Cell and Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology.
A faculty member at UB since 2013, he was previously on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin where he was a trainer for its microbiological doctoral training program and a member of its Center for Research and Training in Parasitic Diseases.
A native of Vineyard Haven, Mass., Bangs received his undergraduate degree in biology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He received his PhD in biochemical, cellular and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and completed postdoctoral training in cell biology at Yale University School of Medicine and in microbiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
He is a resident of Buffalo.