By Ana Kormos, University of California Malaria Initiative (UCMI)
In January 2023, the University of California Malaria Initiative (UCMI) formally inaugurated new project facilities at our field site in São Tomé and Príncipe (STP). The UCMI program mission is to contribute to the elimination of malaria by genetically modifying mosquito populations and to do this work in direct collaboration and partnership with our national partners in STP.
In partnership with the University of São Tomé and Príncipe (USTP) and the Ministry of Health, UCMI completed the development of a new molecular biology research laboratory located on the USTP campus. The formal inauguration of the laboratory was conducted on January 21, 2023. On the occasion, the UCMI program also presented full scholarship awards to four biology students for advanced degree study at our international partner institution, the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (IHMT) in Lisbon.
Inaugurating the laboratory at the University of São Tomé and Príncipe (USTP). Photograph: UCMI
The goal of the newly established laboratory and the advanced degree scholarships is to further the UCMI program mission and to contribute to the advancement of the national STP public health and scientific research community. Young scientists and researchers will work alongside UCMI project scientists in the new laboratory to develop a genetically engineered mosquito with gene drive that could potentially be used as an additional malaria control tool in São Tomé and Príncipe. The laboratory will allow advancement of capacity-building around this new technology and, most importantly, provide a mechanism for the UCMI technology to be fully co-developed with our collaborators in STP.
UCMI's Greg Lanzaro at the newly inaugurated research laboratory on the USTP campus. Photograph: UCMI
Additionally, UCMI formally inaugurated a newly renovated insectary at the STP National Center for Endemic Diseases (CNE), where the National Malaria Control Program conducts their research. The renovation was completed in partnership with the CNE and the Ministry of Health, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of the National Malaria Control Program through the creation of an insectary facility that supports the successful establishment of a local mosquito colony and provides opportunity for research required to advance STP’s national malaria elimination strategy.
To view additional photos and video coverage of the events and learn more about the work currently being done by UCMI in São Tomé and Príncipe, you can visit our dedicated YouTube channel and Facebook account.