Pre-Conference Course

Novel Genetic Vector Control Strategies

Call for Applications for the Pre-Conference Course

Novel Genetic Vector Control Strategies: Considerations for Responsible Research

Gene drive is a natural phenomenon of preferential inheritance of some genes that can increase their frequency in a population beyond the normal rates of Mendelian inheritance. There are various examples of gene drive in nature including transposable elements (TE), driving sex chromosomes and homing endonucleases genes (HEGs). These classes of gene drives present in nature use different molecular mechanisms to drive themselves. Scientists are trying to harness these natural drive mechanisms in different organisms for different purposes. The development of new gene editing tools based on site-specific DNA nucleases such as CRISPR-Cas9 has spurred biologists to build synthetic gene drives through mimicking natural mechanisms of drive to solve various public health, agricultural, conservation, and other challenges where solutions are limited or entirely lacking. Most of the research to date is focused on controlling or altering organisms that transmit infectious diseases to humans, such as the mosquito vectors of dengue, malaria, zika, and chikungunya. Sub-Saharan Africa could greatly benefit from this technology as it is home to most of the above vector-borne diseases. Scientists and public health decision makers in the continent need to be equipped with the broad theoretical and practical skills to raise awareness and advance discussion on the topic. This short training course is designed to provide the basic technical understanding of gene drive and will also cover public acceptance, regulatory issues and ecological concerns. PAMCA is proud to announce a 3-day short training course on gene drive ahead of the PAMCA annual conference.

Funding support

Funds are available to support the costs of flights, accommodation, and subsistence.

Candidates who are able to cover some of their own costs for their attendance will be prioritized.

Up to 05 self-funded candidates will be allowed to attend the course.

There will be a maximum of 20-25 attendees in total.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Participants have a common understanding of the genetic control of vector borne diseases and in particular gene drive
  • Participants understand the potential role of gene drive in the context of other complementary approaches to vector-borne disease control
  • Participants have a basic understanding of mosquito genetics and the steps involved in genetic modification of mosquitoes including gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9
  • Introduction to current legislation for genetically modified organisms in Africa – a regulatory perspective
  • Introduction to activities required outside of the laboratory: stakeholder engagement and environmental risk assessment

Who Can Apply?

  • This short course on gene drive is open to graduate students, researchers in biology, medicine, social science, policy makers and health professionals with interest in genetics and biotechnology.
  • The selection process will take into account the interest expressed by the candidates in gene drive and the short and long terms benefits they might gain from this training.
  • It is desirable, to have candidates from a diverse background across Africa.
  • The course will be conducted in English with simultaneous interpretation in French. Material will be available in both languages.

Important Dates

Call for applications opens: 1 May 2019 | Application deadline: 30 June 2019, 23:59 EAT  | Notification of funding: by 31 July 2019

Selection Creteria

Candidates will be selected on the basis of their credentials, their interests, near and long term vision in taking the course. Attention will be paid as well to the content and structuration of their answers to the different questions in the application form.