Employing institution: Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
Host institution: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), UK
Project title: Development of gene editing tools in major African malaria vectors to better understand their biology and application as a control intervention.
Dr Tarimo is a research scientist working at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, trained in molecular biology and bioinformatics. His research interests include vector immunity and transmission biology in malaria, particularly looking at host-parasite-vector (human-Plasmodium-Anopheles) interactions to the uncover further insights that can guide the development of novel interventions – such as transmission-blocking vaccines or drugs, transgenic mosquitoes, and endosymbionts microorganisms that can block the transmission of malaria.
Current tools for malaria control have reached their effective limit as demonstrated by the recent rise in cases and deaths due to malaria. New tools such as transgenic mosquitoes developed through CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology are needed to supplement the existing ones in order to revert the current trends. Unfortunately, the level of understanding of how this technology is developed and applied to mosquitoes is exceptionally very low among African scientists.
Through this fellowship, Dr Tarimo will be trained in gene editing technologies in major African malaria vectors to produce transgenic mosquitoes that are incapable of transmitting malaria and their application for malaria control. This ensures the presence of local expertise if there is the adoption of transgenic mosquitoes as a control tool.
He will spend time in the laboratory of Dr Tony Nolan at LSTM and train on the basics of gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to develop transgenic Anopheles mosquitoes for malaria control. LSTM is globally well renowned for its research on vector biology with a very extensive research portfolio and remarkable expertise presenting an excellent learning opportunity and environment. Similarly, IHI has an excellent track record in carrying out health-related research. It will provide the necessary infrastructure and administrative support for further research on this subject after placement of his fellowship.
“Existing intervention tools alone will not solve the problem of malaria and novel tools such as transgenic mosquitoes are needed to supplement them.”