Bangs named chair of microbiology

Published October 4, 2012

James D. Bangs.

James (Jay) D. Bangs, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and an expert in the cell biology of the agent that causes African sleeping sickness, has been appointed the Grant T. Fisher Professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The announcement brings to nine the number of new chairs and chair-level appointees recruited by Michael E. Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, in the past four years. These national hires, Cain says, are a critical piece of his strategic vision for the medical school’s future.

Under Bangs, Cain says, the department will enhance the excellence of its research enterprise, undergraduate and graduate student education, and mentored research training programs.

Bangs succeeds J. Iain Hay, who served as department chair for 20 years.

A faculty member and trainer for the microbiological doctoral training program at UW and a member of its Center for Research and Training in Parasitic Diseases, Bangs will join UB in January.

He conducts research on African trypanosomes, one-celled parasites transmitted by the tsetse fly, which cause African sleeping sickness in humans, a fatal disease that is re-emerging throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Bangs investigates the basic cell biology of trypanosomes; specifically, the intracellular trafficking of lysosomal and cell surface proteins as key aspects of the host-parasite relationship. The goal of Bangs’ research is to define aspects of trypanosomal secretory processes that may provide novel avenues toward developing new drugs to treat African sleeping sickness.

His work currently is funded by several grants from the National Institutes of Health.

A native of Vineyard Haven, Mass., Bangs received his undergraduate degree in biology from Bates College. 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.