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USD Microbiologist to Study Bedbug Control

A tiny bedbug on the hand of Jose Pietri. USD assistant professor Jose Pietri received a grant from the United States Department of Defense to find a new way to control bedbug outbreaks.

VERMILLION, S.D. – University of South Dakota Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences assistant professor Jose Pietri, Ph.D., has been awarded a three-year grant from the United States Department of Defense to explore a new and promising approach to controlling bedbugs.

Bedbugs have developed resistance to many pesticides, and current methods of controlling infestations are often not useful. Though it is not clear that bedbugs transmit specific diseases, the bites and rashes are annoying, painful and can cause other health problems.

Because bedbugs develop immunity overtime to bacteria, Pietri hopes to block their immune system and make the bugs fatally ill to then pass the disease to others in the colony before dying. There are bacteria that may work, but Pietri said there are several areas to be explored.


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News