Women & Science

Global Health Is Local Health: Eradicating Threats from A to Zika

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017

12:00 NOON TO 2:00 P.M.



Leslie B. Vosshall, Ph.D.

Robin Chemers Neustein Professor
Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.

President, The Rockefeller University

Leslie B. Vosshall, Ph.D.People have written about mosquitoes as a scourge since at least the time of King David. Much more than an itchy annoyance, their attraction to humans makes them effective at transmitting infectious diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and, deadliest of all, malaria. And now mosquitoes are recognized as carriers of the Zika virus, a global—and increasingly local—threat to public health. Last summer, the Centers for Disease Control issued travel warnings for areas in Florida and Puerto Rico. As warm weather approaches again this summer, so does our need to remain vigilant against another outbreak.

Leslie B. Vosshall, Ph.D., is a world-renowned expert in olfaction—the sense of smell—who is using her knowledge to combat the Zika threat. Dr. Vosshall’s laboratory has produced surprising revelations about olfaction in insects and in humans, for example, showing that some individual preferences in scent are written in our genes. Dr. Vosshall's fundamental studies of odor perception in flies and mosquitoes are fueling initiatives to control mosquitoes that carry diseases such as malaria. Most recently, she has begun to use CRISPR technology, a new gene- editing technique, to determine the genes responsible for host-seeking and blood-feeding behaviors in mosquitoes. With CRISPR, it may be possible to reprogram mosquitoes to be less effective carriers of disease. This work can also assist research on other insect-transmitted illnesses such as Lyme disease.

In the wake of the Zika crisis Dr. Vosshall took to social media, rallying her colleagues to work together to learn more about Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads the Zika infection. In April 2016, The New York Times published a front page article chronicling her efforts, which led to a new public-private partnership to map the complete Aedes genome. The collaborative team will apply its multidisciplinary approach to inform efforts to block transmission of the virus by mosquitoes.

For the 2017 Women & Science Spring Lecture and Luncheon, Dr. Vosshall will share the most recent findings of this collaboration and how her research is utilizing new technology to learn more about insect-borne illnesses.

At Rockefeller, Dr. Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior. She is the director of the University's Kavli Neural Systems Institute. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Dr. Vosshall was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2008 Lawrence C. Katz Prize from Duke University, the 2010 DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, and the 2011 Gill Young Investigator Award. Dr. Vosshall earned an A.B. in biochemistry from Columbia College, a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, and conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University.

For more information, please contact Amanda Martinez at (212) 327-7728 or amartinez@rockefeller.edu.

2017 Women & Science Committee

Founding Chairs
Lydia A. Forbes Isabel P. Furlaud Nancy M. Kissinger Sydney R. Shuman

Judith Roth Berkowitz Debra Black Rebecca A. John Denise Kellen
Samantha Boardman Rosen, M.D. Patricia P. Rosenwald Lulu C. Wang

Frances Beatty Adler Holly S. Andersen, M.D. Barbara Anderson Terry
Anne T. Bass Mercedes T. Bass Ludmila Schwarzenberg Bidwell Amanda Taylor Brokaw
Noreen Buckfire Emily Chen Carrera Judith Mara Carson Daniella Lipper Coules
Caroline R. Curry Annette de la Renta Jasmina Denner Carol B. Einiger
Blair Pillsbury Enders Jeanne Donovan Fisher Muffie FitzGerald Olivia Flatto, Ph.D.
Deban Flexner Barrett B. Frelinghuysen Ruth E. Gitlin Corinne P. Greenberg
Gretchen S. Grisanti Agnes Gund Jean D. Hamilton Marlene Hess Sandra Horbach
Jane Frank Katcher, M.D. Joelle Kayden Bicky Kellner Patricia D. Klingenstein
Lianne Lazetera Teena L. Lerner, Ph.D. Karen M. Levy Evelyn G. Lipper, M.D.
Hillie Mahoney Constance Marks Mary P. Moran Gigi Mortimer
Robin Chemers Neustein Eliot C. Nolen Virginia Pellicci, M.D. Béatrice Philippe
Marnie S. Pillsbury Betsy Pitts Ilona Nemeth Quasha Gail Hunt Reeke
Kimberly K. Rockefeller Amy Falls Rogers Janet C. Ross Jennifer Scully-Lerner
Casey Whalen Sellers Marilyn Simons Carla H. Skodinski Gillian Steel
Joan S. Steinberg Patricia Meyer Stevenson Mary S. Sykes Marcy Syms
Marica Vilcek Sue Ann Weinberg Cynthia M. Whitehead Carolyn Wiener Silvia Zoullas

Honorary Chairman

David Rockefeller

Founding Chairmen

Lydia A. Forbes
Isabel P. Furlaud
Nancy M. Kissinger
Sydney R. Shuman

2017 W&S Chairmen

Judith Roth Berkowitz
Debra Black
Rebecca A. John
Denise Kellen
Samantha Boardman Rosen, M.D.
Patricia P. Rosenwald
Lulu C. Wang

2017 W&S Committee

full committee listing

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