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Targeting Mosquito Genetics to Combat Zika:The pace of progress in global health is determined by our ability to seed, nurture and spread innovation. Through Grand Challenges for Development, USAID uncovers promising ideas and applies rigorous, market-oriented approaches to cut the time it takes to transform ideas in a lab to impact on the ground.

By spreading diseases such as Zika, dengue and malaria, mosquitoes kill more than one million people annually and make countless others sick or debilitated.

Vaccines and drug therapies to combat mosquito-borne illnesses are under development, but there is one genetic scientist who is pioneering a different approach: reducing the mosquito population with baker’s yeast.

Molly Duman Scheel, a professor at Indiana University, has been awarded grants to identify an environmentally safe larvicide that kills mosquitoes before they can transmit diseases to humans.

Scheel grew up in South Bend, Ind., where her father, an insect physiologist at Notre Dame, instilled in her a love of science and the natural world. Her high school biology teacher sparked her interest in genetics and developmental biology and invited her to participate in a high school research program. Molly was instantly hooked and developed a passion for research. At Notre Dame, Molly pursued research in insect developmental genetics and then continued her studies at the University of Chicago.

 

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Targeting Mosquito Genetics to Combat Zika:The pace of progress in global health is determined by our ability to seed, nurture and spread innovation. Through Grand Challenges for Development, USAID uncovers promising ideas and applies rigorous, market-oriented approaches to cut the time it takes to transform ideas in a lab to impact on the ground.

By spreading diseases such as Zika, dengue and malaria, mosquitoes kill more than one million people annually and make countless others sick or debilitated.