Call for Applications for PAMCA pre-meeting course on gene drive
The Pan-Africa Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) is proud to announce a 3-day short training course on gene drive in Ouagadougou from 13th to 15th October 2017 ahead of the PAMCA annual conference which is planned to be held from 16th to 18th October 2017.
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.
Main expected learning outcomes of the course
- 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
Course Target Group – 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.
Applications can be made in French.