Eva Sapi, Ph.D.

Eva Sapi Headshot
Acting Chair, Biology and Evironmental Science
Coordinator, M.S. Cellular & Molecular Biology

Biology and Environmental Science Department
College of Arts and Sciences
School of Health Sciences

Ph.D. Genetics and Molecular Biology - 1995 Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
M.S. Genetics and Molecular Biology - 1987 Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary

About Eva

Eva Sapi is an internationally recognized expert in Lyme disease research. She is on the front lines of searching for a cure for a disease that the Centers for Disease Control say is the fastest- growing vector-borne disease in the United States.

She was the first to discover the presence of Borrelia biofilm in human infected skin tissue, a finding that was published in the European Journal of Microbiology & Immunology, an international peer-reviewed online journal, representing one of her 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers on Lyme disease. The director of the University’s Lyme Disease Research Program, Dr. Sapi has trained more than 90 graduate students in Lyme disease research.

Dr. Sapi’s current research, with James Goldman, a Columbia University professor of pathology and cell biology, centers on a case in which a woman received 16 years of antibiotic therapy and still died from Lyme disease. Their findings – published in Healthcare 2018 – supported her earlier discoveries that Borrelia can form biofilm, a protective layer around itself, making it extremely resistant to antibiotics.

Dr. Sapi and her students are continuing to study a recent breakthrough in which they found that liquid, whole-leaf stevia extract — not the powdered varieties that people most commonly use — have reduced the biofilm mass by about 40 percent.

The goal of her research is to ultimately identify novel antibacterial agents that are effective in killing all forms of Borrelia.

Recognized by Massachusetts General/Harvard Medical School for her Lyme disease research, Dr. Sapi was named a research trailblazer by LymeDisease.org in 2018. She’s shared her findings at conferences around the country and organized six Lyme Disease Symposiums at the University of New Haven, which regularly draw 200 participants, and she has received the Lyme Connection of Ridgefield’s Courage Award.

Dr. Sapi’s initial research focused on breast and ovarian cancer. She shifted her focus to finding a better treatment for Lyme disease after contracting the disease herself. She did her post-doctoral training at Yale University’s School of Medicine and received her Ph.D. in genetics at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary.

Fields of Research

Lyme Disease, Pathogenic Biofilm, Antibiotics Resistance, Different Morphology of Borrelia burgdorferi

Research Highlight

Here is another milestone paper from our research group. We are investigating the potential link between breast cancer and Lyme disease. In this first paper, we have used normal and breast cancer cells and infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacteria, and we found that it made the cancer cells more invasive, at least in a test tube. The authors on this paper are graduate students from the University of New Haven and the study was conducted during the pandemic when research was very difficult.

Click here to read the milestone research paper: Effect of Invasion of Borrelia burgdorferi in Normal and Neoplastic Mammary Epithelial Cells.

Recent Articles

Senejani A, Maghsoudlou J, El-Zohiry D, Gaur G, Wawrzeniak K, Caravaglia C, Khatri V, MacDonald A, Sapi E (2022), Borrelia burgdorferi Co-Localizing with Amyloid Markers in Alzheimer's Disease Brain Tissues. J Alzheimers Dis; 85(2):889-903. doi: 10.3233/JAD-215398. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34897095/

Gaur G, Sawant J, Chavan A, Khatri V, Liu Y, Zhang M, Sapi E (2021), Effect of Invasion of Borrelia burgdorferi in Normal and Neoplastic Mammary Epithelial Cells. Antibiotics (Basel), 10(11):1295. DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics10111295. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34827233/

Sapi E, Gupta K, Wawrzeniak K, Gaur, G, Torres J, Filush K, Melillo A, Zlger B (2019) Borrelia and Chlamydia Can Form Mixed Biofilms in Infected Human Skin Tissues. Healthcare (Basel), 9(2), pii 46-55, doi: 10.1556/1886.2019.00003

Middelveen MJ, Filush KR, Bandoski C, Kasilawla RS, Melillo A, Stricker RB, Sapi E (2019) Mixed Borrelia burgdorferi and Helicobacter pylori Biofilms in Morgellons Disease Dermatological Specimens. Healthcare (Basel), 7(2), pii 70, doi: 10.3390/healthcare7020070

Sapi E, Kasliwala RS, Ismail H, Torres JP, Oldakowski M, Markland S, Gaur G, Melillo A, Eisendle K, Liegner K, Libien J, Goldman J (2019) The Long-Term Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi Antigens and DNA in the Tissues of a Patient with Lyme Disease. Antibiotics, 8(4), pii 183, doi: 10.3390/antibiotics8040183

Soccaras, KM, Theophilus PAS, Torres, JP, Gupta K, Sapi E (2017) Antimicrobial activity of bee venom and mellittin against Borrelia. Antibiotics (Basel), 29;6(4), pii E70, doi: 10.3390/antibiotics6040031

Middelveen MJ, Sapi E, Burke J, Filush KR, Franco A, Fesler MC, Stricker RB. (2018) Persistent Borrelia infection in patients with ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease. Healthcare, 6, 33, pii E33, doi: 10.3390/healthcare602003

Sapi E, Gupta, K, Wawrzeniak K, Gauri G, Torres J, Filush KR, Melillo A, Zelger B. (2019) Borrelia and Chlamydia can form mixed biofilms in infected human skin tissues. European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, 9(2), 46-55. doi: 10.1556/1886.2019.00003

Middelveen MJ, Filush KR, Stricker RB, Sapi, E. Mixed Borrelia and Helicobacter pylori biofilms in Morgellons disease dermatological specimens (2019) Healthcare, 17,7(2). pii: E70. doi: 10.3390/healthcare7020070.

Sapi E, Balasubramanian K, Poruri A, Maghsoudlou JS, Theophilus, PAS, Socarras KM, Timmaraju AV, Filush KR, Gupta K, Shaikh, S, Luecke DF, MacDonald A, Zelger B. (2016) Evidence of in vivo existence of borrelia biofilm in borrelial lymphocytomas European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/1886.2015.00049

Sapi E, Theophilus, PAS, Burugu D, Luecke DF. (2016) Effect of Rpon, Rpos and Luxs pathways on the biofilm formation and antibiotic sensitivity of Borrelia burgdorferi. European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, Dec 1; 6(4): 272–286.

Shaikh S, Timmaraju VA, Torres JP, Socarras KM, PAS, Sapi E. (2016) Influence of tick and mammalian physiological temperatures on Borrelia burgdorferi biofilms. Microbiology, Nov;162(11):1984-1995. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000380.

Theophilus, PAS, Victoria MJ, Socarras KM, Filush KR, Gupta K, Luecke DF, Sapi E. (2015) Effectiveness of Stevia rebaudiana whole leaf extract against the various morphological forms of Borrelia burgdorferi in vitro European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, doi: 10.1556/1886.2015.00031

Timmaraju A, Theophilus PAS, Balasubramanian K, Luecke DF and Sapi E. Biofilm formation by European Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato strains in vitro. (2015) FEMS Letters, doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnv120. Epub 2015 Jul 24.

Sapi E, Pabbati N, Datar D, Davies EM, Rattalle A, Kuo B.A. (2013) Culture conditions for the growth and detection of Borrelia from human serum. International Journal of Medical Sciences 10(4):362-376. doi:10.7150/ijms.5698.

Sapi E, Bastian SL, Mpoy CM, Scott S, Rattelle A, Pabbati N, Poruri A, Burugu D, Theophilus PAS, Pham TV, Datar D, Dhaliwal NK, Timmaraju A Rossi MJ, Sinha SK, MacDonald A and Luecke DF. (2012) Characterization of biofilm formation by Borrelia burgdorferi in vitro. PLoS ONE October 7(10): e48277.

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