Mosquitoes, sand flies, fleas and ticks—and the infectious diseases they
spread—took the spotlight recently at the inaugural U.S.-Brazil Vector Biology
Symposium held at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton,
More than 70 scientists, including 14 from Brazil and 21 from college campuses
across the United States, spent the 2 days sharing and brainstorming
about new research findings, trends and plans related to preventing diseases
such as dengue fever, malaria, leishmaniasis and plague.
“This group of scientists has similar research interests, but they really only
knew each other from published studies,” said Dr. Joseph Hinnebusch, a
section chief in NIAID’s Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens and one of the
symposium organizers. “This event allowed them to meet and discuss how
they might apply new research methods and findings to their own projects.”
For example, attendees heard how a group of Brazilian scientists are using
genetically modified male mosquitoes to potentially reduce the number of
biting female mosquitoes that can spread dengue virus. NIAID scientist Dr.
Carolina Barillas-Mury also discussed how the mosquito immune system
could be manipulated to destroy malaria-causing parasites before they are
transmitted to people.
“South American countries, particularly Brazil, have made concerted efforts
toward research and training in the field of vector biology,” said Dr. David
Sacks, a section chief in NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases. “In the
spirit of global public health, they shared some of their rising stars with us,
which led to some productive conversations and possible research
A follow-up symposium, possibly in 2014 in Brazil, is being discussed.
Attendees of the inaugural U.S.-Brazil Vector Biology Symposium held at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont.