FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

Notre Dame scientists awarded $23M grant from Gates Foundation for mosquito study

Notre Dame Biologists Nicole Achee and Niel Lobo recently received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation worth $23 million to observe the efficacy of spatial repellency as a mosquito control method.

Achee and Lobo were awarded the grant to fund their project, entitled "Spatial Repellent Products for Control of Vector-borne Diseases." The project seeks to conduct research to observe the efficacy of spatial repellency and implement repellent measures through global health policy, especially in areas of high risk of dengue fever and malaria.

"Spatial repellents may allow us to prevent the spread of disease in places where traditional interventions such as bed nets and indoor residual spraying are not completely effective," Lobo said. "We have data that show spatial repellents are effective against insecticide resistant populations, which may have the potential to limit the spread or emergence of insecticide resistance - one of the many challenges faced by public health officials today. Residual transmission is also a significant global concern, and when combined with other tools we expect they will prove to be even more effective."

Achee said that spatial repellent products have not yet become a mainstream part of public health policy, but she hopes the study will provide sufficient evidence to change global mosquito control methods.

"Our team has now been given the opportunity, and the responsibility, to advance these products to those populations in most need - a charge I very much look forward to leading," Achee said.

The grant is the second largest the university has ever received through a single grant proposal. The largest grant ever awarded was a Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp. award worth $29 million for the development of the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology.