By Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú, University of California Malaria Initiative (UCMI)

Malaria continues to be one of the world’s most serious infectious diseases, claiming the lives of over half a million people every year. Although countries around the world largely held the line against further setbacks to malaria prevention and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against malaria is still at a precarious juncture. Efforts to curb the spread of the disease face a convergence of threats, particularly in the African Region, which accounted for 96% of deaths in 2021.

In the face of stalled progress, research into the development of new strategies for the prevention, treatment and control of malaria is essential. Emerging technologies such as synthetic gene drive systems offer the potential to modify or suppress vector mosquito populations and could provide a promising approach to help reduce the burden of the disease.

The African Genetic Biocontrol Consortium is calling for abstract submissions for the 1st Global Congress on New and Emerging Genetic Biocontrol Technologies, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from August 28 to September 2, 2023. The congress will bring together experts from around the world to exchange knowledge and share learnings across diverse disciplines related to genetic biocontrol technologies through courses, workshops, presentations, and symposia.

The main theme of the event will be “Emerging genetic biocontrol technologies: progress made in the science, research, testing, and environmental release of experimental genetically modified biocontrol products”. The organization is calling for proposals centered around this theme and will be accepting abstracts until Saturday, April 15.

The Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) is accepting abstract submissions ahead of the 9th edition of its Annual Conference and Exhibition. The organization is calling for proposals exploring topics related to vector control and this year’s meeting’s main theme: “Reorienting surveillance and management in the context of emerging threats of disease vectors”. The deadline for submissions is March 31.

Image: PAMCA

By Karen Poiani, Island Conservation

This year's Invasive Species Awareness Week, which runs from February 20 to 26, aims to raise awareness of the impact that invasive alien species have on biodiversity and the urgency of taking action to address this issue. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines invasive alien species (IAS) as species that threaten biological diversity through their introduction and/or spread outside of their natural habitat. Invasive species can harm their non-native ecosystems, threatening native species and overall biodiversity.

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