Mosquitoes will take the spotlight, front line and center, this month.
On Wednesday, April 8, Regents Professor Michael Strand of the University of Georgia, Athens, and internationally recognized for his research on parasite-insect host interactions, will speak on "The Role of Microorganisms in Growth, Development and Reproduction of Mosquitoes” at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs.
Next the Pacific Branch of the Entomologist Society of America (PBESA) will honor medical entomologist Thomas W. Scott, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, at its 99th annual conference, April 12-15, in C'ouer d'Alene, Idaho. He will receive the coveted C. W. Woodworth Award for his outstanding work on dengue, a mosquito-transmitted disease.
And then on Friday, April 24, UC Davis will co-host the fourth annual Bay Area World Malaria Day Symposium, set from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, April 24 on the Clark Kerr campus, UC Berkeley. UC Davis and Zagaya, a non-profit organization that envisions a malaria-free world, are partnering on the project.
Michael Strand Seminar April 8
Professor Strand's talk is much anticipated. "Mosquitoes are well recognized as the most important arthropod vectors of disease-causing pathogens," Strand says in his abstract. "Interest in the gut microbiota of mosquitoes has risen recently as a potential tool for manipulating vector competency. In contrast, much less is known about the role of this community in mosquito growth, development and reproduction. In this talk I will discuss recent results from our lab group regarding the composition of the gut microbiome in different mosquito species and insights we have gained about the function of this community in mosquito biology and evolution."
Strand focuses his research in the areas of parasite-host interactions, virology, immunity and development. Current projects center on virus-host interactions, function of the insect immune system, and regulation of reproduction in mosquitoes and other insects.
Strand will be introduced by molecular biologist Shirley Luckhart, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology School of Medicine, and co-director of the UC Davis-based Center for Vector-borne Diseases (CVEC).
Talk will turn to dengue at the PBESA meeting in Co'eur d'Alene, Idaho. Professor Scott, who has researched mosquito-borne disease for 35 years and is retiring in June, is a global authority on the epidemiology of mosquito-borne disease, mosquito ecology, evolution of mosquito-virus interactions, and evaluation of novel products and strategies for mosquito control and disease prevention. Among the top vector biologists in the world, he is recognized as the leading expert in the ecology and epidemiology of dengue.
Scott is known for his holistic and comprehensive approach in finding solutions to protect the world's population from dengue, a disease that infects some 400 million per year. Some 4 billion people in 128 countries, more than half of the world's population, are at risk for dengue. Currently no vaccine or drug is effective against this life-threatening disease.
Scott's most significant research contributions concern the ecology and epidemiology of dengue:
- Blood feeding behavior, longevity, dispersal, and vector-virus interactions of the mosquito Aedes aegypti;
- Longitudinal cohort studies of spatial and temporal patterns in human dengue virus infection in Peru and Thailand; (dengue research in Peru, Thailand, Puerto Rico and Mexico for the past 25 years)
- Impact of human movement on mosquito contact rates and spatial dimensions of dengue virus transmission; and
- Mathematical and computer simulation modeling of mosquito population biology and mosquito-borne pathogen transmission.
Scott co-founded the Center for Vector-Borne Research (CVEC), comprised of researchers throughout the UC System. See more information on Scott.
Patrick Duffy, chief of the National Institutes of Health's Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, will keynote the fourth annual Bay Area World Malaria Day Symposium, set Friday, April 24 on the Clark Kerr campus, UC Berkeley. The symposium, to take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be co-hosted by UC Davis and Zagaya.
Duffy is an internationally recognized expert in human malaria pathogenesis, malaria in pregnancy, and malaria vaccine development. He has published more than 100 papers on malaria over his nearly 25-year career.
UC Davis co-host Shirley Luckhart, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology School of Medicine, and co-director of the Center for Vector-borne Diseases, will be one of the speakers.
Meanwhile, take a look at the spectacular mosquito images taken by entomologist/photographer Jena Johnson of Athens, GA (she is married to Michael Strand). This is the Aedes aegypti mosquito blood-feeding on her.
If you want to learn about malaria and the exciting new research underway, be sure to set aside Friday, April 24.
The event, open to the public, will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Clark Kerr campus, University of California, Berkeley. Keynote speaker is Patrick Duffy, chief of the National Institutes of Health's Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology. Duffy is an internationally recognized expert in human malaria pathogenesis, malaria in pregnancy, and malaria vaccine development. He has published more than 100 papers on malaria over his nearly 25-year career.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, which are transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The statistics continue to be alarming. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated last December 2014 that about 198 million cases of malaria occurred in 2013. Every minute a child in Africa dies from malaria. WHO estimated that malaria deaths in 2013 totaled 584,000 deaths worldwide. However, malaria mortality rates among children in Africa has dropped an estimated 58 percent since 2000, thanks to increased malaria prevention and control measures.
In addition, members of the Luckhart lab, including Jose Pietri, Lizzy Glennon, Lattha Souvannaseng, and Nazzy Pakpour, will present their research at the meeting.
"The event will provide significant opportunities for networking for our trainees and for spending a day thinking about we can make a difference to eliminating one the greatest global health crises of our time," Luckhart said.
James R. Carey, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Cecilia Giulivi, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, "will be presenting on innovative applications of their expertise to malaria research," Luckhart announced.
Other UC Davis campus faculty attending the meeting will include Renee Tsolis of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine, and her lab; and Koen Van Rompay, director of the Diagnostics Laboratory, California National Primate Research Center, UC Davis.
The daylong event will conclude with a gala reception hosted by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), a global public health non-profit founded in 1977 with significant interests in malaria and more than 1200 employees in 30 offices across the world.
Zagaya, directed by Kay Monroe, is a Bay Area-non profit that envisions a malaria-free world created through education, innovative vector control, effective vaccines, better water management and safer pesticides, and access to the highest quality anti-malarials available.
The symposium is open to the public, and registration is underway. See Bay Area World Malaria Day Symposium. General admission is $50, and student admission (with identification) is $25. Registration includes breakfast and lunch. In addition, attendees are invited to donate funds for bednets in Africa. The donations will go to Nothing But Nets, one of the World Malaria Day partners.
"Every 45 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria, a disease spread by a single mosquito bite. There are more than 200 million cases of malaria each year, and nearly 1 million of those infected die from the disease — most of them children under the age of five."
That's on the Nothing But Nets website and there's something we can all do to help. We can donate $10 for a life-saving bed net to protect families in Africa from getting bit by a mosquito.
There's something else we can do: attend the third annual Bay Area World Malaria Day Symposium, set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, April 25 on the Clark Kerr campus, UC Berkeley.
It promises to be a day of innovation, knowledge-sharing and collaboration, announced Kay Monroe of Zagaya, the event host. The schedule of events will be presented the day of the symposium.
Lanzaro's Soundbite presentation,"Malaria in the Americas: A New Research Initiative for the UC Davis Vector Genetics Lab," will key in on the challenges of malaria control in Brazil. Lee's Soundbite presentation will be on a new diagnostic tool for malaria mosquito research. Luckhart is scheduled for both a Soundbite and poster.
Two of the UC Davis presenters, Laura Norris and Bradley Main, are National Institutes of Health T32 postdoctoral fellows. They will cover the topic of malaria vector evolution in the face of insecticide pressure from bed net campaign.
The list of the other UC Davis presenters, as announced by Monroe:
Nazzy Pakpour, Soundbite; and Elizabeth Glennon, Kristen Lokken, Jason Maloney, Jose Pietri, Rashaun Potts and Lattha Souvannaseng, Bo Wang, poster.
Keynote speakers are:
- Tim Wells, chief scientific officer, Medicines for Malaria Venture, Geneva, Switzerland, who will share the latest efforts to develop new drugs aimed at wiping out malaria.
Title: The Pipeline of Medicines to Support Malaria Control and Elimination
- Joseph DeRisi, professor and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC San Francisco, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, who will talk about work in his lab.
Title: "A View from the Trenches – Anti-malarial Drug Development"
- Regina Rabinovich, ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence at the Harvard School of Public Health, who will examine the future of malaria eradication efforts, past the 2015 UN Millennium Development goals.
Title: "Beyond the Millennium Development Goals Horizon – What Will Help Drive Success Post-2015?"
Officials at Zagaya (which means "spear") say this is a critical time for malaria research professionals to come together, as it's one year away from the 2015 UN Millennium Development goal of halting and reversing the growth of malaria incidence. The symposium provides the forum for researchers, implementers, advocates and students to "inspire and catalyze change for the greater good."
Registration is open and ongoing until the day of the event. General registration is $50, and students, $25. A portion of the registration fee--$10--will go toward purchasing bed nets via the United Nation's Nothing but Nets program, a global, grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria.
The nets are considered one of the most cost-effective tools to prevent the spread of malaria. How effective? Statistics show that bed nets can reduce malaria transmissions by 90 percent in areas with high coverage rates.
UC Davis molecular biologist Shirley Luckhart, professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) and a graduate student advisor with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has just received a 2012 Outstanding Mentor Award from the UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research.
Professor Luckhart is an international authority on malaria, but on campus, she's also known as an outstanding educator and mentor. So it was no surprise--except to her--that her 15-member lab got together and nominated her for the coveted award.
In her letter of support, doctoral candidate Anna Drexler described Luckhart as "an exceptional mentor" who "cares deeply about the people she mentors and has regular meeting times scheduled with each individual in the lab and with the lab as a whole. In her weekly lab meetings, she fosters a collaborative environment where people can practice presentation skills, brainstorm new ideas and gain help troubleshooting research problems. Additionally, I have found her door is always open to myself and other students, regardless of her very busy schedule."
In these tough economic times, when funding is so tight it squeaks, Luckhart manages to find funding. As Drexler pointed out: Luckhart "works very hard to secure funding for students that she takes on and has, to date, been successful in this for every student in her lab. She strongly encourages each of her protégés to present independent research at one major research conference per year and provides funding for these events."
Doctoral candidate Elizabeth Glennon praised "the cohesive and collaborative nature of her lab" and "the quality of training that her students receive."
The Luckhart lab drew national attention when Time magazine featured the lab's role in making a malaria-proof mosquito. Time singled out the malaria-proof mosquito as "the best invention" in the Health and Medicine category of its "50 Best Inventions of 2010."
Frankly, we don't know how Shirley Luckhart can juggle all those balls she's tossed up in the air. Research, education, public service, advisor to multiple graduate student groups--and mentoring. (Read what the scientists in her lab wrote about her.)
In a world of gems that are few and far between, Shirley Luckhart is a rare treasure.
You don't usually see "honey bees" and "malaria" in the same sentence.
That won't be the case, though, when Joseph DeRisi, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, comes to the UC Davis campus to lecture on Monday, Jan. 9.
His presentation, "A Seminar in Two Acts: Honey Bees and Malaria," is from 10 to 11 a.m. in the main auditorium (Room 2005) of the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility.
The seminar, open to all interested persons, is sponsored by the Biological Networks Focus Group of the Genome Center. Host is Oliver Fiehn, professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Genome Center.
DeRisi, a molecular biologist and biochemist, was named the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Grant (also known as "the genius award") in 2004. In 2008, DeRisi won the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. Among his many accomplishments: he designed and programmed a groundbreaking tool for finding (and fighting) viruses -- the ViroChip, a DNA microarray that test for the presence of all known viruses in one step.
The DeRisi lab drew international attention last year with publications in Public Library of Science journals.
Chemical Rescue of Malaria Parasites Lacking an Apicoplast Defines Organelle Function in Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum (published in PLoS Biology, August 2011)
Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia (published in PLoS One, June, 2011)
Among those working on the honey bee research and co-authoring the PLoS One paper was insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, a postdoctoral fellow in the Raul Andino lab at UC San Francisco and the recipient of the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellowship in Honey Bee Biology at UC Davis.
Among DeRisi's collaborators on malaria research is UC Davis molecular biologist Shirley Luckhart, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and an advisor in the Entomology Graduate Program.
DeRisi, who received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1999 from Stanford University, does amazing work.
He's a genius, to be sure.
Check out these links:
Joseph DeRisi Lab, UC San Francisco
Joe DeRisi: Biochemist (featured in TED ("Technology, Entertainment, Design" is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.)
Conversation with Joe DeRisi (New York Times)
Solving Medical Mysteries (YouTube)
Hunting the Next Killer Virus (YouTube)
Joseph DeRisi: Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Joseph DeRisi in Wikipedia