Vector Genetics Laboratory Receives $10.2M Grant from Open Philanthropy
The Vector Genetics Laboratory in the school’s Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology has been awarded a $10.2 million grant from Open Philanthropy to support their research on human malaria in the west African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP). The lab has been working with scientists and public health authorities in STP to establish the conditions that would facilitate an informed societal and government decision about a proposed release of Anopheles mosquitoes engineered to prevent transmission of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum on the islands. This award will be used to extend their ongoing entomological, engagement and capacity building work through 2025.
The lab is working in collaboration with the UC Irvine Malaria Initiative, a research consortium including scientists from UC Irvine, San Diego and Berkeley, as well as Johns Hopkins University. Greg Lanzaro, project principal investigator and director of the Davis lab commented, “We are working toward the application of advanced genetic tools aimed at the mosquito vector. It is our belief that this approach, used in conjunction with early malaria treatment and detection, can provide a cost effective, sustainable, and environmentally responsible program to ultimately eliminate malaria from Africa.”
Ana Kormos, engagement program manager and lead author of the proposal added, “These funds provide the UCIMI program with support to strengthen our existing relationship-based approach to the co-development of this technology and ensures that our partners in STP lead the decision-making processes involved in all aspects of the research. This is a huge step forward in advancing a truly collaborative approach to translational research.”
The lab has partnered with the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (IHMT) in Lisbon, Portugal, to provide advance degree training opportunities for STP scientists to improve national scientific capacity and develop national expertise in medical entomology and vector control. Additionally, Dr. João Pinto from the IHMT will reside in STP to manage field work operations, scientific capacity building, and the development of an on-site research laboratory and insectary facility.