Rocky Mountain Regional Center of Excellence

Network on the Biology of Parasite Vectors

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation provided core support for research conducted at the eight institutions that comprised the Network on the Biology of Parasite Vectors from 1991 to 2000 (Colorado State University, University of Arizona, University of California – Irvine, Yale University, Harvard University, University of Crete, Malaria Research Lab – CDC, and Case-Western University). The Network has been a major force in the emergence of the field of molecular vector biology, scientific advances in this field, and in the training of a new generation of scientists to combat diseases such as malaria, dengue, Chagas disease, trypanosomiasis, and leishmaniasis. In addition to the core support, funding was also provided for the Biology of Disease Vectors course (BDV).

The Biology of Disease Vectors Course is an intensive two week residential course in vector molecular biology, and is designed to introduce post-doctoral and a select number of pre-doctoral scientists and bring them “up-to-speed” on the most current issues in vector molecular biology. Approximately 35 students from all over the world participate in the Course each year. The Course includes lecture, laboratory and field experiences for all students, and involves a rotating cast of approximately 30 faculty annually. It is held on the campus of Colorado State University, and every second year, in a disease-endemic country. This rotation is designed to provide access to the Course to those students who could not otherwise afford to travel to the US. In addition, we are able to tailor the Course to take advantage of local scientific experts and to provide more of a focus on the diseases and insect vectors prevalent in that part of the world. Thus far, the Course’s overseas sites have included: Greece, Brazil, Mali, the Czech Republic, Mexico, and in 2005, Thailand. The World Health Organization has provided annual support for eight students from less-developed countries, as well as 3-5 faculty working in less-developed countries. In years when the Course is not held in Colorado, we have been able to obtain support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Each host institution has also provided in-kind support, including the use of lecture halls, buses, and laboratory facilities.

The Course has now trained over 550 students, from 54 countries over the sixteen years that it has been held. The interaction among investigators from US and from disease-endemic countries has led to numerous productive research collaborations, scientific exchanges, and training opportunities. In addition, the Course spurred its leaders to write and publish the first comprehensive book on molecular vector biology – Biology of Disease Vectors. The second edition has been available since August 2004 published by Academic Press - Elsevier. A unique feature of the course is the outstanding faculty who participate each year and who provide unparalleled networking opportunities for the students. Indeed, besides the major research findings that resulted from the collaborative and interdisciplinary work of the Network, it is the training and integration of the next generation of scientists that has been a major accomplishment. The BDV Course has had far-reaching impact, as its students are now emerging scientific leaders in their own countries.

Supported by:
UNICEF-UNDP-World Bank-WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases

Contact info:   Nancy DuTeau or Lori Phelan at Colorado State University (970) 491-5290