World Mosquito Day/Week – Part VII

Published on: Author: the CVR science blog editors

Akira JT Alexander, Research Assistant, INFRAVEC2

Tell me about your background?

My research has always been focused on interactions and sensing, in particular within host pathogen interactions. I have a BSc in Plant Science from Edinburgh University where I studied developmental switching in response to nutrient deprivation in the well-known plants, Fungi. I have an MSc in Biotechnology, during which I designed a procedure for the high throughput characterisation of drug/gene interactions. I used this during my PhD at the University of Manchester, which was to do with calcium signalling and ultimately death in response to an artificially designed hexapeptide.

Why did you get into this field of research?

We all sense and interact with our environment on a daily basis. What interests me is how a single cell can sense and interact with its environment and even within the cell, how does a single line of genetic code interact with the world? This led me into the field of pathogenesis, where a single gene from one organism can often have huge effects on another organism, often with life or death consequences. When I started University I actually planned to take Ecology, but my interests have slowly focussed in from the scale of the whole planet to the single gene.

What are you working on?

I am currently working on an INFRAVEC2 project to generate transgenic animals. This project is allowing me to move from my single celled past into the organism as a whole. As I have only just started, I cannot elaborate any further on this!

Why is world mosquito day important?

World mosquito day commemorates the discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. Mosquitoes transmit many deadly diseases caused by parasites, bacteria and viruses, which kill over an estimated 1 million people annually. There is a huge need to develop effective strategies for the control and management of both mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.