Meet Our Researchers

Daniel Neafsey

Associate Director of the Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
The Question

The transmission of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and Zika depends on complex biological and ecological interactions between mosquitoes and humans. By tracking and understanding these interactions, we can learn more about how to interrupt them—and eliminate disease. When biologists track large animals, they use radio collars or metal tags. So our team wondered: what would be the best way to track mosquitoes, given that they are too small for conventional tracking approaches?

The Approach

BroadIgnite funds will support our team’s research into a new technique to track mosquitoes using incredibly tiny, invisible, and harmless DNA ‘barcode’ tags stuck to their bodies. Our idea is that by first releasing barcoded bugs—and, later, recapturing them and sequencing their DNA tags—we will be able to better understand how far mosquitoes can fly and carry human diseases, how large their populations are, and how mosquito-control programs impact their populations.