PI4D Distinguished Lecture - Anthony James

Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease
January 18, 2018
2:15 PM - 3:15 PM
Pfendler Hall- Deans Auditorium


Dr. Anthony A. James

Departments of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and

Molecular Biology & Biochemistry,

3205 McGaugh Hall, University of California, Irvine CA


‘La Zanzara Vitruviana’: Synthetic Biology and Malaria

Population modification strategies based on transgenic mosquitoes carrying genes that prevent parasite transmission have a role in the malaria eradication agenda.  They can consolidate elimination gains by providing barriers to parasite and competent vector reintroduction, and allow resources to be focused on new sites while providing confidence that treated areas will remain malaria-free. A promising strategy for combating malaria is based on harnessing gene drive systems to spread anti-malarial genes throughout mosquito populations rendering them unable to transmit the parasites.  Highly-effective anti-malarial gene cassettes that result in a 100% block of Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly human malaria parasite, in mosquitoes, were linked to a gene-drive system based on CRISPR/Cas9 biology, and showed in laboratory experiments to spread with 99.5% efficiency in Anopheles stephensi, the major malarial vector mosquito in urban India.  Strategic planning in selecting field-sites, engineered mosquito strains, trial designs and implementation strategies is needed to achieve a successful first field trial of this technology. The trial should use local scientists and adhere to stringent community engagement and regulatory standards.  The trial should have an epidemiological endpoint that results in local disease elimination.

Anthony A. James, PhD is Professor of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics (School of Medicine) and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry (School of Biological Sciences) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). Dr. James received his bachelors of science and PhD degrees at UCI. He went to Boston in 1979 for postdoctoral work (Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University) and joined the faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1985. He returned to his alma mater in 1989, where he is today.  Dr. James is working on vector-parasite interactions, mosquito molecular biology, and other problems in insect developmental biology.  His research emphasizes the use of genetic and molecular-genetic tools to develop synthetic approaches to interrupting pathogen transmission by mosquitoes. Dr. James has a strong interest in what it takes to move science from the laboratory to the field. His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (USA), the William M. Keck Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DARPA and the Tata Foundation (India). Past support includes the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to being elected to the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in 2006, he received numerous other awards including the Nan-Yao Su (2009) Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology from the Entomological Society of America, was a co-recipient of the Premio de Investgación Médica Dr. Jorge Rosenkranz (2008), a recipient of the Burroughs-Wellcome New Initiatives in Malaria Award (2000) and the Burroughs-Wellcome Scholar Award in Molecular Parasitology (1994). He was named a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London (1992), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994), Fellow of the Society, Entomological Society of America (2011) and Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2012). In 2009, he was awarded the UCI Medal, the highest honor the University bestows on an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the vision, mission and spirit of UCI.  He has published over 200 papers, reviews and policy documents and has provided guidance to 37 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  He was a founding editor of the journal Insect Molecular Biology, and has served on the editorial boards of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Experimental Parasitology and Entomological Research. He is a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, American Committee on Vector Entomology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Parasitology, Royal Entomological Society, Entomological Society of America, Genetics Society of America and Society of Vector Ecology.

PI4D Distinguished Speaker Seminar

Co-sponsored by Department of Entomology

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2:15 pm- 3:15 pm in

Pfendler Hall- Deans Auditorium

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