Catalysis Meeting

Selfish dna and the genetic control of vector-borne diseases

PI(s): Fred Gould (North Carolina State Univerisity)
Steve Sinkins (Oxford University)
Daniel Hartl (Harvard University)
Start Date: 1-Sep-2006
End Date: 14-Mar-2008
Keywords: selfish genes, disease, genomics, population genetics

Selfish genetic elements spread and maintain themselves in populations even though they have negative impacts on the fitness of organisms. They are of interest from an applied and a basic evolutionary perspective, and they are being studied from molecular and population dynamics/genetics perspectives. Although there are exceptions, most individual researchers take a single perspective in studying selfish DNA, interact with others who have that perspective, and tend to have only a superficial understanding and appreciation for work on selfish DNA conducted at different levels or with different goals.
There has been recent interest in using selfish genetic elements to drive anti-pathogen genes into disease-vectoring pest populations in order to suppress transmission of human diseases such as dengue and malaria. We feel that the progress of research toward this goal has been hampered by a lack of interdisciplinary interaction. To help remedy this situation we propose to bring together researchers working on selfish DNA whose work is centered at different points along the continuum from basic to applied and from the molecular to population level. We propose to use specific approaches to foster discussion among these researchers that will lead to new approaches for using selfish genetic elements to control vector-borne diseases. We expect that other useful synergies will emerge from these interactions that will have benefits at the basic and applied level. If we are successful, some of the workshop participants will develop collaborative projects or will form working groups.

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