January 24, 2006
DAVIS--Medical entomologist Gregory C. Lanzaro, director of the UC Mosquito Research Program (UCMRP), is the newly appointed director of the UC Davis Center for Vectorborne Diseases (CVEC).
In announcing the appointment, Bennie I. Osburn, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, praised Lanzaro’s “willingness to take on this important assignment.”
“Dr. Lanzaro has an exciting vision for CVEC that broadens the programmatic directions and activities of the center,” Osburn said. “We anticipate that he will play an important role in the further development of the zoonotic and public health programs of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and on the UC Davis campus.”
Lanzaro is now the point person for both UCMRP, a systemwide program of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and CVEC, a unit of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and managed in collaboration with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Medicine.
CVEC has long been closely affiliated with UCMRP and the vector-borne diseases program of the California Department of Health Services.
Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said Lanzaro is a “natural choice” to lead CVEC.
“Dr. Lanzaro maintains a research program on anthropod-borne diseases as a member of the Department of Entomology within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science and is the current director of the UC systemwide UCMRP, so he is a natural choice to also lead the UC Davis CVEC,” Van Alfen said. “His leadership will assure that UC Davis remains a leader in addressing the global problem of vector-borne diseases."
Lanzaro said he is pleased to serve as director of the program. “I look forward to establishing UC Davis and CVEC as an international center of excellence in vector-borne disease research and education.”
“Pathogens transmitted by insects and their relatives rank among the most important infectious diseases globally,” Lanzaro said. “Diseases such as malaria, dengue and leishmaniasis take millions of lives annually and wreak havoc on the economies, and therefore quality of life, for many millions more throughout the world.”
The United States, he pointed out, is not immune to the threat of arthropod-borne disease. “Lyme disease, plague and a host of mosquito transmitted encephalitic viruses are long standing public health concerns in this country. The recent introduction of West Nile virus serves to illustrate the capacity of insect-transmitted disease agents to move into parts of the world in which they were never previously present and spread rapidly once introduced. Our goal at CVEC is to create a community of UC Davis faculty and students interested in the biology and control of arthropod-borne diseases of man and animal.”
Lanzaro noted that CVEC “is interdisciplinary (encompassing biological, medical, veterinary and social sciences) and global, with a major emphasis on work in the developing world, where arthropod-borne diseases impose the heaviest burden.”
“These diseases pose a tremendous challenge to global health,” he said. “We will address this challenge through research and education.”
Lanzaro replaces emeritus professor and medical entomologist John Edman, who retired in 2004. In the interim, emeritus professor and medical entomologist Robert Washino, now interim chair of the Department of Entomology, and veterinary pathologist and virologist James MacLachlan, School of Veterinary Medicine, co-chaired CVEC.
CVEC, considered the most comprehensive vector-borne disease program in California, collaborates with more than 30 faculty members on UC campuses. Research programs include molecular biology, virology, parasitology, vector control, and epidemiology of vector-borne diseases in California and globally.
Lanzaro’s key responsibilities include developing an overall programmatic vision of the center, including leadership in research and teaching.
The center serves as the principal teaching resource for undergraduate and graduate courses in all facets of vector-borne disease sciences. As the director, Lanzaro will assume an important role in curriculum development and graduate programs, Osburn said.
Named UCMRP director in 2002, Lanzaro received his bachelor of science degree in biology from Kansas State University, his master’s degree in entomology from the University of Arizona, and his doctorate in entomology from the University of Florida. He joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1988 to work as a post-doctoral fellow under the direction of entomologist Bruce Eldridge and also worked closely with Robert Washino.
Lanzaro’s areas of expertise include genetics and population biology of mosquitoes that transmit malaria, particularly Anopheles gambiae, the principal vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa; and the genetics and molecular biology of sand fly vectors of visceral leishmaniasis in Latin America.
Prior to coming to UC Davis, Lanzaro served as professor in the faculty in the Department of Pathology and Center for Tropical Diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.
He earlier conducted research as a MacArthur Fellow at the Laboratory of Malaria Research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.
Further information on UCMRP is available at http://www.ucmrp.ucdavis.edu/ or by telephoning program assistant Nancy Dullum at (530) 752-6983.