Eva Sapi, Geneticist and Molecular Biologist at University of New Haven

Eva Sapi

Tick Boot Camp Podcast
Dr. Michael Snyder was featured on the Tick Boot Camp Podcast:


Professor Eva Sapi is a Hungarian-American microbiologist and researcher who has dedicated her career to advancing our understanding of Lyme disease.

Early Life and Career
Born in Hungary, Sapi comes from a family of engineers and scientists. She studied biology at a university in Hungary from 1987 to 1995 and earned her Ph.D. in biology from the same university. She went on to complete postdoctoral work in Germany and Switzerland, where she focused on studying gene regulation in bacteria, and understanding how genes are turned on and off in response to environmental cues.

Early Research
Professor Sapi started her research career studying breast cancer until she was hit with chronic Lyme disease and it paused her life. After finally getting a proper Lyme diagnosis and spending years trying many different pharmaceutical and herbal treatments, Sapi began to feel better and started collecting and studying ticks. She discovered that ticks carry Bartonella and that ticks could carry many different species of bugs that can infect humans, which was not received well by the medical community at the time.

Official Lyme Career Pivot
Next, Professor Eva Sapi joined the University of New Haven in Connecticut as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science. She was also appointed as the Director of the Lyme Disease Research Group at the university, where she continued her research on Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Popular Work
Sapi is known for her groundbreaking research on the persistence and treatment of Lyme disease. She was the first to discover that Borrelia burgdorferi can form biofilms that protect it from antibiotics and the immune system. Her 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.

Notable Achievements
Professor Sapi has authored 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers on Lyme disease and trained more than 100 graduate students in Lyme disease research. She is a sought-after speaker and presenter and has appeared on radio and television programs. Her groundbreaking research has earned her several recognitions, including the research trailblazer award from LymeDisease.org in 2018, and the Courage Award from Lyme Connection of Ridgefield. Her ultimate goal is to identify novel antibacterial agents that are effective in killing all forms of Borrelia.

Recent Breakthroughs
Sapi’s research has also shown that some herbal remedies, such as Stevia, can be effective in treating Lyme disease. Her recent breakthrough, with her students, is in the potential of liquid, whole-leaf Stevia extract in reducing biofilm mass. In a recent study, they found that liquid, whole-leaf Stevia extract is an effective treatment for Lyme biofilm. This finding is significant because Borrelia biofilm is a protective layer around itself, making it extremely resistant to antibiotics.

Lyme and Cancer
Sapi’s research has also found evidence that Borrelia may be present in breast cancer tissues, as well as ovarian and endometrial cancer. She and her students are focusing on Borrelia, examining more than 400 invasive breast cancer tissues. A significant number of samples were positive for Borrelia, suggesting that the bacteria may play a role in breast cancer development and metastasis.

Looking Ahead
Professor Eva Sapi’s work on breast cancer and its link to Lyme disease has opened new avenues for research and has the potential to lead to novel discoveries in the field. The scientific community and the Lyme disease community are fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate researcher leading the charge in advancing Lyme disease research, including its role in cancer.