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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

UMiami: Public Health Researchers Initiate a Collaboration with Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil

Dr. John Beier, professor of public health, and Dr. Andre B. B. Wilke, a post-doctorate associate, both from the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences, traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador to begin a collaboration between the University of Miami and the Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil (UCSG), a private, catholic, higher education center. During their visit, they initiated a project that will focus on the population genetics of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that reside in Ecuador, which are known as the primary vector for the dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fevers and Zika viruses.

“This partnership can significantly improve vector-control strategies in Ecuador by providing the evidence needed to determine how the mosquitoes are affecting population dynamics, their patterns of disease transmission and, ultimately, the risk of emergence and re-emergence of vector-borne diseases,” Dr. Beier said.

The two-year project, called the Training and Technical Assistance Project, will be funded by a grant and will be under the leadership of Dr. Beier and Dr. Eduardo Gomez Landires, who is a professor at UCSG, and will explore how the conditions found in Ecuador are genetically driving the populations of Aedes aegypti, which is so far unknown.

“By investigating the patterns of both genetic and phenotypical variation in Aedes aegypti populations from specific urban areas, we will be able to identify how selective pressures may be triggering local adaptation. The better knowledge of how urban features, human behavior, and chemical interventions are affecting mosquitoes will make it possible for the development of more effective and tailor-made mosquito control strategies,” said Dr. Wilke.

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