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Public Health Researchers Begin a Collaboration between the University of Miami and Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil

John Beier, Sc.D., professor of public health, and Andre B. B. Wilke, Ph.D., a post-doctorate associate, both from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s 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 Eduardo Gomez Landires, Ph.D., professor at UCSG, and will explore how the conditions found in Ecuador are genetically driving the populations of Aedes aegypti, which is 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 the development of more effective and tailor-made mosquito control strategies,” Dr. Wilke added.

Dr. Beier has published over 300 publications on the ecology and control of vector-borne diseases. His research has also been supported by the National Institute of Health, as well as by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Wilke, who has had more than 10 years of experience, has more than 30 publications on vector ecology and control, as well as on population genetics and on the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on June 28, 2019