By Dina M. Fonseca, Director of the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology
Professor of Entomology, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
The Rutgers Center for Vector Biology (CVB) is the primary academic partner in an exemplary statewide NJ vector-borne diseases management program, partnering with NJ DOH, EPA, DA and all 21 county mosquito control programs.
While we develop basic research primarily on mosquitoes and ticks and the epidemiology and biology of pathogens they transmit (eg. West Nile virus, bird malaria, Lyme bacterium) our focus is squarely on the operational outcomes that can be rapidly applied regionally but that often have a national and international impact.
We work directly with residential communities in the US, especially in NJ, as well as within international consortiums. We devise and test control approaches, insecticide based, repellant based and behavior based. We identify and devise strategies to minimize damage to vulnerable communities due to age or income.
Our NJ-centric program is a bit of an oddball in VBD research at US institutions – and even across Rutgers – but can be very effective. For example, while a concern to many for many years, tick-borne disease management has only very recently come into focus as a goal, in large measure as a result of the efforts of CVB members and our collaborators.
Of note, we are preparing the first Rutgers CVB Research Seminar Series entitled “Vector-borne pathogens” to highlight Rutgers researchers. Those of you that work on vector-borne diseases: we will reach out to you soon.
Public Health educators, nurses, physicians working directly with those impacted by the nuisance of mosquitoes or ticks and/or the pathogens they transmit: we need to understand your needs so we can target our research. Please reach out to us. One of our objectives is sharing a common message: vectors and vector-borne diseases are not to be feared but need to be understood and neutralized in ways that safeguard us and the environment.