Advancing spatial repellents for mosquito-borne disease control
Kenya, Mali, Sri Lanka, and Uganda
John Grieco is leading research funded by Unitaid to determine the efficacy of a spatial repellent product in preventing mosquito-borne disease. By analyzing a novel product, researchers aim to generate data on its capabilities as a cost-effective tool for limiting the spread of illnesses like malaria, dengue, and Chikungunya. The data will help shed light on the feasibility, impact, and safety of spatial repellents, and could also be used to support policy recommendations from the WHO.
Fellow program collaborators at the University of Notre Dame include Nicole Achee, Alex Perkins, Sean Moore, Fang Liu, Neil Lobo, and Jarek Nabrzyski. This team also includes an industry partner and consortium members.
Manipulating mosquitoes’ instincts to limit biting
Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Critical behaviors exhibited by mosquitoes, such as feeding, are time-of-day specific. And although interventions have helped prevent mosquito bites and reduce malaria, mosquitoes are now shifting those behaviors to avoid interventions. By understanding the feeding behaviors and flight activity patterns of the Anopheles farauti mosquito, Giles Duffield aims to learn how different species of mosquitoes alter their natural day-to-day to avoid insecticides and bed nets. Additionally, he will work to develop alternative interventions that disrupt these behaviors, similar to how Duffield’s research team used light to manipulate biting patterns of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito.
Developing a decision-making tool for data-driven mosquito control
Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, and Panama
Understanding mosquito behavior is vital for choosing appropriate vector intervention strategies that are effective for malaria control and elimination. In a project led by Neil Lobo, researchers piloted a decision-making tool that incorporates data on mosquitoes and how they interact with humans and the interventions in place.
The pilots resulted in changing national strategies in all four pilot countries: Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, and Panama. Investigators are presently working with the ministries of 10 countries – DRC, Ethiopia, Guyana, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, and Zimbabwe– and implementation organizations, such as the President’s Malaria Initiative, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and PATH, towards the integration of evidence-based decision making and thereby better-protecting people. This decision-making tool is presently also being implemented in research that enables a phased approach to understanding intervention-based protection in forest malaria transmission systems.
Crowdsourcing models to accelerate drug discovery
Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North America
Artemisinin is a drug that is the last line of defense against multi-drug resistant malaria, but reported cases of drug-resistance are growing in Southeast Asia. To contribute to the molecular understanding and prediction of emerging drug resistance, Geoffrey Siwo, in collaboration with Michael Ferdig’s laboratory, is leading a crowdsourcing effort to engage data scientists around the world to develop computational models of the resistance.
Over 360 data scientists drawn from across 31 countries on six continents registered for the Malaria DREAM Challenge. Launched in April 2019, this effort potentially marks the largest group of data scientists to collectively work on a single problem regarding malaria and aims to inspire the broader malaria and infectious disease communities to maximize the discovery power of large, complex datasets. Several organizations as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support the Malaria DREAM Challenge.
Using the Lake Victoria islands as a natural laboratory
Ssese Islands and Uganda
As part of a larger team effort aimed at reducing the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa (the Target Malaria research consortium), Nora Besansky and colleagues have been evaluating Lake Victoria as a barrier to gene flow between vector mosquito populations in mainland Uganda and the those on the Ssese Islands off shore. One application of this research will be to inform about the suitability of one or more of these islands as potential field release sites for initial tests of novel vector genetic control technologies.
Malaria has wreaked havoc on human health from prehistoric times through to the 21st century, and at its peak infested every continent except Antarctica. Yet, it was not until 1897 when Dr. Ronald Ross, a British physician working in India, confirmed that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes when he found the malaria parasite in the stomach of an Anopheles mosquito. Now, each year the world commemorates this Nobel-prize winning discovery on World Mosquito Day to recognize how far the world has come in combating malaria and as a reminder of how much more needs to be done.
There’s an African saying that if you think you are too little to make a difference you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito. This recognizes the fact that the mosquito is the deadliest animal in the world," said Dr. Nahlen.
Beyond research on mosquito-spread diseases, the Eck Institute for Global Health uses research, training, and service to advance health standards and reduce health disparities for all. From studies into maternal, child, and community health to molecular biology and microbiology, the Eck Institute aims to holistically address global health by training the next generation of researchers and leaders through all levels of college education, including the newly expanded Master of Science in Global Health program.
The two-year program, which is a partnership among the Eck Institute for Global Health, Notre Dame College of Science, and the Keough School of Global Affairs, offers three areas of concentration: vector biology and parasitology, health governance and policy, and health analytics. The expanded program will give students an entire summer to complete their research and much of the year after to analyze and synthesize their results.