UCR

Institute for Integrative Genome Biology



Members


Omar Akbari

Omar S. Akbari
Assistant Professor

Mailing Address:

Entomology
Boyce /4490
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521

Phone: (951) 827-5368
Fax: (951) 827-5155
Email: omar.akbari@ucr.edu

Degree(s):

PhD 2008 Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno
BS/MS 2005 Biotechnology, University of Nevada, Reno

College/Division Affiliation:

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Center/Inst Affiliation(s):

Center for Disease Vector Research

Areas Of Expertise:

Developing Innovative Synthetic Biology-inspired Genetic Control Strategies for Insects

Awards / Honors:

2015  NIAID Career Transition Award
2008  American Mosquito Control Association Grass Roots Award

Research Summary:

Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous animals in the world. They are the primary vectors for major human diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever, which together infect hundreds of millions of humans worldwide, killing millions each year, with over 50% of the world’s population presently at risk (WHO). There are currently no vaccines for either dengue fever or malaria and mosquitoes are rapidly evolving resistance to commonly used pesticides and anti-malarial drugs. Therefore given the number of infections and deaths, current approaches for prevention of mosquito-borne diseases are immeasurably inefficient.  What remains critical for vector control is the development of catalytic approaches requiring only small efforts that can generate long lasting solutions. With the rapid advances in insect genetic engineering, mathematical modeling of wild populations, synthetic biology, and the comprehensive understanding of dengue and plasmodium lifecycles in mosquitoes, unique opportunities have arisen to prevent infectious diseases through genetic manipulation of wild insect vector populations. My research focuses on studying the basic genetics and physiology of mosquitoes with the overall goal of developing innovative, novel, creative, synthetic biology inspired genetic control technologies for reducing the burden of mosquito vector borne diseases on humans. The underlying hypothesis inspiring this work is that the introduction and spread of genes that prevent mosquitoes to transmit pathogens should in theory lead to reduced transmission of these pathogens resulting in reductions of human infections and/or death. To test this hypothesis, first we need a broad understanding of the biology of the mosquito that can be used to develop gene-based strategies for engineering mosquitoes that are resistant to pathogens; second we need to engineer mosquitoes that are resistant to all types of infections; third we need to develop tools to rapidly “drive” these laboratory developed genes into wild mosquito populations. Together, these aims can conceivably provide a foundation that has the potential to revolutionize vector control of mosquitoes..

Selected Publications:

List of publications from PubMed


 


More Information

General Campus Information

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

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director

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