USC biologist collaborates with Asia-Pacific women researchers on mosquito-borne diseases

Frances E. Edillo, Ph.D., a full professor and head of the Mosquito Research Laboratory at the University of San Carlos (USC) Biology Department, was awarded a prestigious two-week Australia Awards Fellowship on November 5–19, 2023.

Dr. Frances E. Edillo (3rd from right) with fellow recipients of Australia Awards Fellowships at Queensland University of Technology.

Dr. Edillo was awarded together with nine women scientists, clinicians, and public health professionals from seven Asia-Pacific countries to advance important research on the impacts of tropical mosquito-borne diseases. 

The Australian Government’s Australia Awards Fellowships program aims to build networks and strengthen partnerships between Australian organizations and their counterparts in the region.

Associate Professor Francesca Frentiu from the School of Biomedical Sciences of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Queensland initiated the fellowship with several engaging activities including:

  • Tours at QUT’s research-intensive laboratories on genomics, proteomics, and electron microscopes; Australia’s largest mosquito insectary at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR); and the Translational Research Institute;
  • Various scientific discussions and symposium with scientists and leading researchers on immunology, infectious diseases, and vector biology, particularly on mosquito-borne diseases and releases of Wolbachia-treated Aedes aegypti;
  • Two-day Leadership and Effective Communication Training given by an expert on positive psychology;
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses; and
  • Three-day HEAL (Healthy Environments and Lives) hybrid conference for collective action for health, environment, and climate. 

During the HEAL conference, Associate Prof. Frentiu presented an ePoster on behalf of the team entitled “A Collaborative Network to Enhance Women’s Participation in Tropical Virus Research (Asia-Pacific).” 

Prof. Edillo also presented her Philippine Council for Health Research Council (PCHRD)-funded study entitled “Detecting the Impacts of Humidity, Rainfall, Temperature, and Season on Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika Viruses on Aedes albopictus Mosquitoes from Selected Sites in Cebu City, Philippines.”

Emergence and re-emergence of mosquito-borne arboviruses (i.e., chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, and Zika) and climate change have contributed to the substantial health and economic burden in the tropics and subtropics and expanded distribution of mosquito vectors and arboviruses that they transmit. 

Hence, subsequent collaborative scientific workforce after the aforementioned fellowship is crucial to maintaining open lines of communication across borders within Asia-Pacific to work on joint strategies to solving climate-sensitive mosquito-borne diseases.   

by Frances Edillo, Ph.D.

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