Marissa Gebhard | Mar. 12, 2014 | Notre Dame News
University of Notre Dame biologists Nicole Achee and Neil Lobo are leaders of an international $23 million research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their five-year project will generate the data required to show the effectiveness of a new paradigm in mosquito control — spatial repellency — for the prevention of two important mosquito-borne diseases: malaria and dengue fever.
The grant is the second largest award to a single grant proposal in Notre Dame’s history. A Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp. award to fund the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology totaled $29 million and is the largest award to a single grant proposal.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest global estimates, 207 million cases of malaria were reported in 2012, with 50 million to 100 million dengue infections occurring every year. Both the malaria parasite and dengue virus are transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Despite decades of organized mosquito control efforts, the diseases caused by these pathogens remain significant global health problems. Current global adult mosquito control strategies such as insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying for malaria and space-spraying for dengue can be effective under certain circumstances, but are limited in combating the transmission of these pathogens in all areas where the diseases occur. This reality has left an urgent need to advance the development of novel products based on new paradigms, including spatial repellency, especially with the call to eradicate malaria and the increased burden of dengue.