University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

UC Riverside Hosts International Symposium on Vector-Borne Diseases

Leading Entomologists to Gather at UC Riverside to Discuss Vector-Borne Diseases and their Global Impact

International symposium will feature latest findings on insects and ticks that spread diseases in humans and plant crops

(March 15, 2010)

A malaria vector. Photo Credit: James GathanyEnlarge

A malaria vector. Photo Credit: James Gathany

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Leading insect vector biologists from around the world will gather at the University of California, Riverside for two days this month to discuss their latest research on vector-borne diseases in humans and plants.

The international symposium, titled “Facing the Challenge of Vector-Borne Disease in the 21st Century,” will take place March 27-28, 2010, in Room 1102A, Genomics Building. The entire program of the symposium is included below.

The symposium will bring together scientists and students who study insects that “vector” – carry or transmit – pathogens of humans and plants, as well as researchers who examine the underlying genetic and biochemical mechanisms.

Experts in the field will present their work on genomics, molecular genetics, population genetics and vaccine discovery for a wide range of vector-borne diseases in humans and plants.

“To my knowledge, this is the first symposium to cover vector-borne diseases in both humans and plants,” said Alexander Raikhel, a professor of entomology and chair of the symposium organizing committee. “It will provide an excellent forum for discussing what makes insects such good vectors for diseases in plants and humans. With the many advances entomologists have made in the genomics and molecular biology of vectors, this is an excellent time for such a symposium on vector-borne diseases to take place.”

Topics covered at the symposium include the social and economic impact of vector-borne diseases in the developing world and elsewhere; mosquito and malaria control; the molecular genetics of malaria parasites; vector-pathogen interactions; engineering mosquito resistance to pathogens; vaccine development; insecticide resistance in mosquitoes; the evolution of blood feeding in assassin bugs; the kissing bug problem in Southern California; an anti-Dengue Fever vaccine; odor responses in mosquitoes; plant immune responses; and plant-disease vector interactions.

Dr. Haile Debas, the executive director of the UC San Francisco Global Health Sciences and the director of the University of California Global Health Institute, will give the keynote address titled “Interdisciplinary Approach to Global Health Challenges in the 21st Century.”

More information about the symposium, including registration information, can be found here.

The symposium is being hosted by the Center for Disease Vector Research (CDVR) and the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology (IIGB) at UC Riverside.

“The CDVR is unique in that it consists of faculty and students who study insect vectors of pathogens of humans and plants as well as the pathogens themselves,” said Peter Atkinson, the CDVR’s director. “The IIGB through its core genomics and bioinformatics facilities and trained staff has the state of the art DNA sequencing and bioinformatics capacity to participate at the cutting edge of this important research field.”

The symposium is open to the public. A registration fee of $60-100 includes refreshments, lunches, poster session and an evening reception on March 27. Reporters may attend the entire symposium at no charge.

As part of the symposium, a poster session will be held in the Genomics Building to highlight vector biology research of graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty.

The CDVR and IIGB are joined in cosponsoring the symposium by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the One Health: Water, Animals, Food and Society Center of Expertise of the UC Global Health Institute, and the UCR Department of Entomology.

Symposium program:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Genomics Building Auditorium

8:30 a.m. – Symposium Opening

Alexander Raikhel, Organizing Committee Chair

Thomas Baldwin, Dean of College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Peter Atkinson, CDVR Director, Entomology – Introduction of the Keynote Speaker and Acknowledgements

9:00 a.m. – Keynote Lecture – Haile Debas (Executive Director, UCSF Global Health Sciences) - Interdisciplinary Approach to Global Health Challenges in the 21st Century

Morning session: Co-Chairs – Linda Walling and Joao Pedra

1. Social Impact of Vector-Borne Diseases

9:50 a.m. Marcia Castro (Harvard School of Public Health) - Social aspects of mosquito and malaria control

10:20 a.m. Anil B. Deolalikar (UCR Economics) - Social and economic consequences of vector-borne diseases in the developing world

10:40 – 11:00 a.m. Coffee break

2. Population Genetics and Systematics of Disease Vectors

11:00 a.m. William Black (Colorado State University) – Population genetics of disease vectors

11:30 a.m. Christiane Weirauch (UCR Entomology & CDVR) – Evolution of blood feeding in assassin bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) and the kissing bug problem in Southern California

11:50 a.m. Gregory Lanzaro (UC Davis) - The genetics of Anopheles gambiae populations in West and Central Africa

12:20 – 1:20 p.m. Lunch & Poster set up.

Afternoon Session: Co-Chairs - James Ng and Isgouhi Kaloshian

3. Host Seeking Behavior in Disease Vectors

1:20 p.m. Leslie Vosshall (Rockefeller University, NY) – Odorant receptors in Drosophila

1:50 p.m. Anand Ray (UCR Entomology & CDVR) – Modification of odor responses in mosquitoes

2:10 p.m. Ring Carde (UCR Entomology & CDVR) – Insect orientation to host odors

2:30 – 2:50 p.m. Coffee break

2:50 p.m. Consuelo De Morales or Mark Mescher (Pennsylvania State University) – Plant signals attracting insect vectors (pending)

4. Small RNAs in Control of Genome Stability and Disease in Arthropods

3:20 p.m. Mikiko S. Siomi (Keio University of Tokyo, Japan) – Small RNAs in animals

3:50 p.m. Shou-Wei Ding (UCR Plant Pathology & Microbiology and CDVR) – The role of siRNAs in anti-viral responses

4:10 p.m. Peter Atkinson (UCR Entomology & CDVR) – piRNAs in vector insects

4:30 p.m. Alexei Aravin (California Institute of Technology) – Arginine methylation as a molecular signature of the piRNA pathway

5:00 p.m. Forum I – What makes Arthropods such ideal vectors of diseases (Alexander Raikhel – Discussion Leader; Consuelo De Morales; Shou-Wei Ding; William Black)

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.. Genomics Building. Reception and Poster Session (registered participants). Posters will remain for the next day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Genomics Building Auditorium

Morning Session: Co-Chairs – Karine Le Roch and Anupama Dahanukar

5. Genetic Molecular Approaches to Investigating Vector-Pathogen Interactions

8:00 a.m. -George Dimopoulos (Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health) – Immune interaction between mosquitoes and their pathogens; a genomics approach

8:30 a.m. Georg Jander (Boyce Thompson Institute, Ithaca NY) – Molecular genetics of Arabidopsis-aphid interactions

9:00 a.m. Isgouhi Kaloshian (UCR Nematology & CDVR) – Plant immune responses to aphid and root-knot nematode infestation

9:20 a.m. Joao Pedra (UCR Entomology & CDVR) - Microbial colonization of ticks

9:40 a.m. Stephane Blanc (UMR BGPI-CIRAD/INRA/SUPAGRO, Montpellier, France) - Plant-vector-virus interactions

10:10 a.m. James Ng (UCR Plant Pathology & Microbiology and CDVR) – Virus-vector interactions mediating the semi-persistent Bemisia tabaci transmission of lettuce infectious yellow virus

10:30 – 10:50 a.m. – coffee break

10:50 a.m. Linda Walling (UCR Botany & Plant Sciences and CDVR) – The Arabidopsis-whitefly interaction: deceptive messages and biphasic host responses

11:10 a.m. Alexander Raikhel (UCR Entomology & CDVR) –Transgenic mosquitoes in studies of disease vector-pathogen interactions

6. Molecular Approaches to Control of Vectors and Diseases

11:30 a.m. Martin Donnelly (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK) – Molecular genetics of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. - lunch

Afternoon session: Co-chairs – Anand Ray and Christiane Weirauch

1:00 p.m. Rodrigo Almeida (University of California Berkeley) – Blocking the transmission of a leafhopper-borne bacterial pathogen

1:30 p.m. Brian Federici (UCR Entomology & CDVR) – Recombinant bacterial larvicides for controlling major vector mosquitoes.

2:00 p.m. Jesus G. Valenzuela (NIH, Bethesda, MD) – Sand flies, leishmaniasis and development of vaccine

2:30 p.m. David Lo (UCR Division of Biomedical Science & CDVR) – Novel approaches to an anti-Dengue Fever vaccine

2:50 p.m. Kirk Deitsch (Weill Cornell Medical College, New York) – Genetic basis of antigenic variations in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

3:20 – 3:40 p.m. – coffee break

3:40 p.m. Karine Le Roch (UCR Cell Biology & Neuroscience and CDVR) – Genomics and proteomics studies of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

4:00 p.m. Anthony James (UC Irvine) – Engineering mosquito resistance to pathogens

4:30 p.m. Forum II – Urgent Issues in Arthropod Vector Biology (Linda Walling - discussion leader; Martin Donnelly; Georg Jander; Peter Atkinson)

5:00 p.m. End of the symposium

The University of California, Riverside ( 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.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links