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Talk Covers Genetic Research on Insects


Entomologist to Speak on the Development of Insect Disease-Causing Organisms

Genetically engineered pathogens can aid mankind

(May 13, 2005)

Brian A. Federici

Brian A. Federici

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — www.ucr.edu — University of California, Riverside Professor of Entomology, Brian Federici will deliver a free, public lecture on his research at 4 p.m., Monday, May 16, in the Commons Terrace rooms B through D.

Titled “Pathogens of Insects: Natural and Human Genetic Engineering of Life,” the lecture explores the processes, both natural and human-driven, that mutate and create organisms with improved effectiveness in specialized tasks. The recipient of the 2005 Faculty Research Lecturer award, Federici is required he give a talk on the subject of his research.

“Organisms have been genetically engineered by nature for millions of years in order to acquire certain characteristics to make them successful,” said Federici, adding that human-driven genetic engineering uses DNA technology to speed up those same processes for human ends.

“For instance, genetic engineering has allowed humans to insert genes from insect pathogens into things like corn and cotton to control serious crop pests,” he said.

His work has boosted the understanding of how to control insects that transmit diseases, which continue to plague humankind, and the scientific community has responded with laurels such as awards from the Keck Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Known for research into the ways fungi, viruses and bacteria affect the insect world, Federici has made many discoveries that shed light on controlling pests that threaten crops and introduce ailments into the bloodstreams of vertebrates, including humans. He has devised ways to manipulate insects’ natural enemies to improve control of species that are harmful to human life.

Federici describes himself as a scientific dilettante who has followed his interests into various fields of research. Currently, he is working on developing a bacterial strain that is effective at killing mosquitoes, including those that are vectors for West Nile virus.

In 2002-2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appointed Federici to scientific advisory panels on the controversial topic of biotechnology. In 2003, he received the Secretary’s Individual Honor Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He holds the title of Distinguished Professor, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. A renowned lecturer and teacher, he won the campus’ Distinguished Teaching Award in 1989.

Parking on campus costs $5 a day per vehicle after 4 p.m. Permits are available from vending machines at parking Lot 2 near the administration building or at Lot 24 next to Amy Harrison Field on Canyon Crest Drive. Permits are also available from attendants at parking kiosks near the University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard entrances.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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