Sara Zimmer, PhD

Associate Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Sara Zimmer

Contact Info

Office Phone 218-726-6741

Lab Phone 218-726-8952

Office Address:
Department of Biomedical Sciences
325 SMed
1035 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812-3031

Associate Professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Office of Faculty Affairs Duluth Faculty Liaison

NIH-NIAID Postdoctoral Fellow, University at Buffalo, SUNY

PhD, Cornell University, 2008

BS, Michigan Technological University


Professional Associations


Research Summary/Interests

The focus of our molecular parasitology laboratory is trypanosomes. Species of these vector-borne protozoan parasites cause World Health Organization-designated Neglected Tropical Diseases that are endemic to poor, rural populations and for which new drug targets are urgently needed. The laboratory studies aspects of their metabolism and mitochondrial gene expression, looking not only for vulnerabilities that may serve as new drug targets but also at processes that can inform our fundamental understanding of eukaryotic evolution.


See also: PubMed

Hoke KL, Zimmer SL, Roddy AB, Ondrechen MJ, Craig E. Williamson CE, Nicole R. Buan NR. (2022) Reintegrating Biology Through the Nexus of Energy, Information, and Matter. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 61:2082-2094. doi: 10.1093/icb/icab174.

Berge JM, Macheledt K, Watson S, Dorr H, Pusalavidyasagar S, Kunin-Batson A, Pratt R, Zimmer SL, Tolar J, Termuhlen A. (2022) Using a Community-based Participatory Approach to Address Gender Equity in Academic Medicine: The Center for Women in Medicine and Science at the University of Minnesota. Academic Medicine. 97:370-377. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004375.

Gerasimov ES, Gasparyan AA, Afonin DA, Zimmer SL, Kraeva N, Lukeš J, Yurchenko V, Kolesnikov A. (2021) Complete minicircle genome of Leptomonas pyrrhocoris reveals sources of its non-canonical mitochondrial RNA editing events. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021:3354-3370. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab114.

Opperdoes FR, Butenko A, Zakharova A, Gerasimov ES, Zimmer SL, Lukeš J, Yurchenko V. (2021) The remarkable metabolism of Vickermania ingenoplastis: genomic predictions. Pathogens. 10:68. doi: 10.3390/pathogens10010068.

Hampton M, Galey M, Smoniewski C, Zimmer SL. (2021) Probabilistic models of biological enzymatic polymerization. PLoS One. 16:e0244858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244858.

Zimmer SL, Regal JF, Fitzakerley JL, Cao R. (2020) Returning to a “new normal” in regional campus research laboratories during the COVID-10 pandemic. J Reg Med Campuses. 3(3).

Ramirez-Barrios R, Susa EK, Smoniewski CM, Faacks SP, Liggett CK, Zimmer SL. (2020) A link between mitochondrial gene expression and life stage morphologies in Trypanosoma cruziMol Microbiol. 113:1003-1021. doi: 10.1111/mmi.14466.

Durrani H, Hampton M, Rumbley JN, Zimmer SL. (2020) A global analysis of enzyme compartmentalization to glycosomes. Pathogens. 9:281. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9040281.

Aphasizheva I, Alfonzo J, Carnes J, Cestari I, Cruz-Reyes J, Göringer HU, Hajduk S, Lukeš J, Madison-Antenucci S, Maslov DA, McDermott SM, Ochsenreiter T, Read LK, Salavati R, Schnaufer A, Schneider A, Simpson L, Stuart K, Yurchenko V, Zhou ZH, Zíková A, Zhang L, Zimmer S, Aphasizhev R. (2020) Lexis and grammar of mitochondrial RNA processing in trypanosomes. Trends Parasitol. 36:337-355. doi: 10.1016/

Zimmer SL. (2019) Revisiting trypanosome mitochondrial genome mysteries: broader and deeper. Trends Parasitol. 35:102-104. doi: 10.1016/

Zimmer SL, Simpson RM, Read LK. (2018) High Throughput Sequencing Revolution Reveals Conserved Fundamentals of U-indel Editing. WIREs RNA. 2018: e1487.

Kalem MC, Gerasimov ES, Vu PK, Zimmer SL. (2018) Gene expression to mitochondrial metabolism: Variability among cultured Trypanosoma cruzi strains PLOS ONE. 13: e0197983. 

Gerasimov ES, Gasparyan AA, Kaurov I, Tichý B, Logacheva MD, Kolesnikov AA, Lukeš J, Yurchenko V, Zimmer SL*, Flegontov P*. (2018) Trypanosomatid mitochondrial RNA editing: dramatically complex transcript repertoires revealed with a dedicated mapping tool. Nucleic Acids Res. 6: 765-781. *Co-corresponding authors.

Gazestani VH, Hampton M, Shaw AK, Liggett C, Salavati R, and Zimmer SL. (2018) Tail characteristics of Trypanosoma brucei mitochondrial transcripts are developmentally altered in a transcript-specific manner. Int. J. Parasitol.48: 179-189.

Ishemgulova A*, Kraeva N*, Hlavacova J, Zimmer SL, Butenko A, Podesvova L, Lestinova T, Lukes J, Kostygov A, Votypka J, Volf P, Yurchenko V. (2017) A putative ATP/GTP binding protein affects Leishmania mexicana growth in insect vectors and vertebrate hosts. PLOS Negl. Trop. Dis. 11: e0005782. *Authors contributed equally.

Kala S*, Mehta V*, Yip CW, Moshiri H, Najafabadi HS, Zimmer SL, and Salavati R. (2017) The interaction of a Trypanosoma brucei KH-domain protein with a ribonuclease is implicated in ribosome processing. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 211: 94-103. *Authors contributed equally.

Shaw AK, Kalem MC, and Zimmer SL. (2016) Mitochondrial gene expression is responsive to starvation stress and developmental transition in Trypanosoma cruzi. mSphere. 1: e00051-16.

Gazestani VH, Hampton M, Abrahante JE, Salavati R, and Zimmer SL. (2016) circTAIL-seq: a targeted method for deep analysis of RNA 3’ tails reveals transcript-specific differences by multiple metrics. RNA. 22: 477-486.

Sakyiama J*, Zimmer SL*, Ciganda M, Williams N, and Read LK. (2013) 5’ processing of rRNA precursors and ribosome biogenesis in Trypanosoma brucei utilizes a highly-divergent XRN2-like enzyme. RNA. 19: 1419-31. *Authors contributed equally

Hashimi H, Zimmer SL, Ammerman ML, Read LK, Lukeš J. (2013) Dual core processing: MRB1 is an emerging kinetoplast RNA editing complex. Trends Parasitol. 29: 91-99.

Kafková L, Ammerman ML, Faktorová D, Fisk JC, Zimmer SL, Sobotka R, Read LK, Lukes J, Hashimi H. (2012) Functional characterization of two paralogs that are novel RNA binding proteins influencing mitochondrial transcripts of Trypanosoma brucei. RNA. 18: 1846-1861.

Zimmer SL, McEvoy SM, Menon S, Read LK. (2012) Additive and Transcript-Specific Effects of KPAP1 and TbRND Activities on 3' Non-Encoded Tail Characteristics and mRNA Stability inTrypanosoma brucei. PLoS ONE. 7(5):e37639.

Read LK, Zimmer SL, ML Ammerman. (2011) Marked for Translation: Long A/U Tails as an Interface between Completion of RNA Editing and Ribosome Recruitment. Mol. Cell. 42: 6-8.

Zimmer SL, McEvoy SM, Li J, Qu J, Read LK. (2011) A Novel Member of the RNase D Exoribonuclease Family Functions in Mitochondrial Guide RNA Metabolism in Trypanosoma brucei. J. Biol. Chem. 286: 10329-10340.

Zimmer SL*, Schein A*, Zipor G, Stern DB, Schuster G. (2009) Polyadenylation in Arabidopsis and Chlamydomonas organelles: the input of nucleotidyltransferases, poly(A) polymerases and polynucleotide phosphorylase. Plant J. 59: 88-99. *Authors contributed equally.

Zimmer SL, Fei Z, Stern DB. (2008) Genome-Based Analysis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Exoribonucleases and Poly(A) Polymerases Predicts Unexpected Organellar and Exosomal Features. Genetics 179: 125-36.

Merchant SS, Prochnik SE, Vallon O et al. (2007) The Chlamydomonas genome reveals the evolution of key animal and plant functions. Science. 318: 245-250.

Yehudai-Resheff S, Zimmer SL, Komine Y, Stern DB. (2007) Integration of chloroplast nucleic acid metabolism into the phosphate deprivation response in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Plant Cell 19: 1023-38.

Nishimura Y, Kikis EA, Zimmer SL, Komine Y, Stern DB. (2004) Antisense transcript and RNA processing alterations suppress instability of polyadenylated mRNA in Chlamydomonaschloroplasts. Plant Cell 16: 2849-2869.

Mascher T, Zimmer SL*, Smith TA*, Helmann JD. (2004) Antibiotic-inducible promoter regulated by the cell envelope stress-sensing two-component system LiaRS of Bacillus subtilis.Antimicrob Agents Chemother 48: 2888-2896. *Authors contributed equally.

Akbulut S, Byersdorfer CA, Larsen CP, Zimmer SL, Humphreys TD, Clarke BL. (2001) Expression of the Melanocortin 5 Receptor on rat lymphocytes. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun 281: 1086-1092.


Teaching Areas

Microbiology and Parasitology.

Mentoring/Advising: undergraduates, graduate & post-doctoral fellows.