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Collaborative Team

Principle Investigators:

PI – Dr. Laura C. Harrington.  Professor, Cornell Department of Entomology.

Dr. Harrington’s research focuses on the biology, ecology and behavior of mosquitoes that transmit human diseases. For more than 16 years, she has worked on the biology of mosquito vectors of dengue fever, West Nile virus and malaria. She has developed methods for studying blood feeding patterns, survival and longevity, mating behavior and feeding behavior of mosquitoes in both the laboratory and field. In addition, she has developed approaches for evaluating mating competition and fitness of mosquitoes including transgenic males for field deployment.  Dr. Harrington is a devoted teacher and has been honored with several awards for her teaching and mentoring efforts including an Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Students in Research Award, an ESA Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching and she was recently named a Stephen H. Weiss Fellow by the University President for outstanding contributions to education at Cornell.  She brings her extensive mosquito field and laboratory expertise to the Center as well as her passion for educating the next generation of medical entomologists and public health practitioners.

Co- PI -  Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Director of the Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, Director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Dr. Andreadis career and experience span nearly 4 decades with a focus on the biology and ecology of mosquitoes and the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases with a particular focus in the northeastern US. In 1997, he established the Mosquito/Arbovirus Surveillance Program for the State of Connecticut which he coordinated and directed for 15 yrs. He also established the Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and was personally responsible for hiring and directing the research of many of the scientists and technical staff from the Center that will be included in this CDC Center of Excellence Program.  He continues his research programs on the invasion biology of exotic mosquitoes, epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases, and biological control of mosquitoes.

Co-PI-  Bryon Backenson, MS, Research Scientist and Deputy Director for Disease Control at the New York State Department of Health.  

Mr. Backenson has worked on Lyme disease and other tick borne infections since 1991 and has an interest in the population dynamics of vector borne diseases.   He earned his MS degree in Epidemiology from SUNY Albany before joining the health department.  Mr. Backenson is a past president of the National Association of Vector Borne Disease Control Officials and is a member of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ Climate Change Collaborative.  He was an author of the recent national Lyme disease surveillance case definition.   Mr. Backenson’s role at the NYS DOH is to translate surveillance and research data into public health action and policy.

 

Co-PI – Dr. Laura Kramer, Director, Arbovirus Laboratories Wadsworth Center, New York State Dept Health; and Professor, Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany.  

Dr. Kramer has more than 45 years of experience studying arboviruses in the field and laboratory, from both experimental and observational approaches, using both classical and molecular tools.  Her laboratory conducts surveillance for medically important mosquito- and tick-borne diseases, for the state of New York.  Dr. Kramer’s research focuses on how the interactions between mosquitoes, viruses, and vertebrate hosts impacts the intensity of viral transmission, and viral evolution and adaptation.  Studies under her direction at the Wadsworth center include those on West Nile virus, Dengue virus and most recently, Zika virus, and the tick-borne flavivirus, Powassan/Deer tick virus, the alphaviruses,  Eastern equine encephalitis virus and Chikungunya virus and La Crosse virus.  Dr. Kramer is also working on anti-flaviviral compounds. 

Co-PI- Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University.  

Dr. Diuk-Wasser’s research focuses on elucidating the ecological, epidemiological and evolutionary drivers for the emergence of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. She uses multiple methodological approaches to model transmission and persistence of human vector-borne pathogens at a range of spatio-temporal scales, with strong field and laboratory data input. Dr. Diuk-Wasser has broad training in disease ecology and has been involved in tick and mosquito-borne disease research for the last 18 years. She has led two large scale projects that provided unprecedented field collections of ticks and their pathogens: ‘Emergence of babesiosis in the United States’ (NIH funded, 5-years grant, active) and ‘Spatial risk model for Ixodes scapularis-borne Borrelia’ (CDC funded, 5-year grant, completed). The outcome of the latter project represents the first field-based standardized map of human risk of acquiring a pathogen at a continental scale.