W. Reuben Kaufman, PhD

(Salt Spring Island, BC) 

Professor emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

Reuben has a B.Sc (1965) and M.Sc (1967) from McGill University, and a PhD (1972) from University British Columbia and has published over 100 research articles during his career. Since the late 1960s, he has conducted research on the physiology of ixodid ticks, the family that includes vectors of the Lyme Disease bacterium, B. burgdorferi. After postdoctoral fellowships at Cambridge University (England) 1971-1974, and the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland) 1975-1977, he became a professor at the University of Alberta.

His original research experience includes salivary gland physiology and pharmacology. Salivary glands play a major role in tick biology that is similar to that of the kidneys for most animals. The female tick uses the blood nutrients to produce thousands of eggs. Concentration of the blood meal nutrients, and hence egg production, is maximized by excreting a lot of the water content of the original blood meal. The female tick, having no kidneys, achieves this by secreting back into the host a large percentage of the imbibed fluid of host blood. It is via this large volume of saliva that tick-borne diseases (including Lyme Disease) are transmitted from tick to host.

Reuben was invited to join CanLyme in 2005 and welcomed the opportunity to expand his knowledge of ticks and tick-borne diseases. Since 2007 he has been researching the mechanical properties of tick cuticle (the ‘outer skin’) in order to better understand how the tick expands so enormously during the feeding period (a fully engorged female tick can exceed 100 times the weight of an unfed one). 

After retiring from the U of A in 2012, Reuben relocated to Salt Spring Island, BC, where he continued his research on the mechanical properties of tick cuticle until 2021. This research was made possible due to the generosity of Justene Tedder, owner of the Gulf Islands Veterinary Clinic, who provided him space and other support for his laboratory.

Read more at the U of A Biology website.

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