RESEARCH ON GENE DRIVE TECHNOLOGY CAN BENEFIT CONSERVATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH


As a global community, we are facing life-threatening challenges that undermine our future, from catastrophic loss of biodiversity to acute public health threats.

Malaria cases are on the rise again after decades of progress, and fragile ecosystems are undergoing intensifying rates of extinctions. These challenges require new and complementary tools if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets.

As the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meets for the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) in Egypt in November, decision-makers from countries around the world will have an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of enabling research to support responsible innovation and evidence-based decision-making.

Closing the door on research by creating arbitrary barriers, high uncertainty, and open-ended delays will significantly limit our ability to provide answers to the questions policy-makers, regulators and the public are asking. The moratorium suggested at CBD on field releases would prevent the full evaluation of the potential uses of gene drive. Instead, the feasibility and modalities of any field evaluation should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Much of the progress we have made in the past century in improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities around the world is the result of increased knowledge acquired through scientific research. Science has not brought solutions to all our problems, but improved understanding and evidence have been key to progress. Innovations in vaccines, for example, have saved millions of lives: the 74% percent reduction in childhood deaths from measles over the past decade is a demonstration of the life-changing power of scientific research.
Gene drive is a well-established field of research. First observed in the 1920s in mice and Drosophila, gene drive is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has been the subject of investigation for many years. Recent advances in gene editing tools have allowed notable progress in the two years since gene drive was first discussed at CBD, helping deliver increased knowledge and greater understanding of the possible applications of gene drive, while shedding further light on its risks, limitations, and potential.

While these advances are important, there is still much more to be achieved before any gene drive organisms could be considered for regulatory evaluation. Key institutions, such as the African Union, have called for continued work in this field, emphasising the value of the opportunity and the need for informed case-by-case assessment of this technology by national authorities.

Scientists, alongside regulatory experts, funders and sponsors of the research, are working together to ensure research is carried out safely and responsibly, by building on previous experiences, using published policy and information, and putting in place monitoring and containment systems to prevent accidental releases . Ongoing discussions are also taking place to determine suitable conditions for field evaluations.

Member States can enable the Convention on Biological Diversity to be a platform for knowledge and experience sharing. We should not decide against the use of a tool before potential costs and benefits can be fully evaluated. We urge governments to ensure the decisions taken at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s next meeting do not amount to a moratorium on gene drive research, but instead offer a balanced and constructive way forward for Parties to learn and monitor this field of research.

Prof. Austin Burt
Professor of Evolutionary Genetics
Imperial College London,
UK

Principal Investigator, Target Malaria David Hartwell
Acting Board Chair
Wildlife Land Trust (Humane Society of the US)
Board Vice Chair
National Audubon Society
USA

Prof. Anne Dell CBE FRS FMedSci
Head
Department of Life Sciences
Imperial College London
UK

Tim Allard
Acting Chief Executive
Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Australia

Malaria No More
USA

Dr. Karen Poiani
CEO
Island Conservation
Dr. Charles Mbogo
Chief Research Scientist
Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
Kenya

Yacine Diop Djibo
Executive Director
Speak Up Africa

Dr. Daniel Masiga
Principal Scientist, Human and Animal Health
International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology
Kenya

Dr. Fred Aboagye-Antwi
Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science
School of Biological Sciences
College of Basic and Applied Sciences
University of Ghana
Ghana

Angus Parker
Board Chair
Island Conservation

Dr. Hirotaka Kanuka
Professor and Chair
Department of Tropical Medicine
Jikei University School of Medicine
Japan

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu
Director,
Uganda Virus Research Institute
Uganda Professor Sir Brian Greenwood CBE, FRS
Manson Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine,
London School of Health and Tropical Medicine
UK

Dr. Suresh Subramani
Distinguished Professor
Division of Biological Sciences
University of California, San Diego
USA

Dr. Abraham Mnzava
Senior Malaria Coordinator
African Leaders Malaria Alliance

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ruth Müller
Head of the Unit
Medical Entomology
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Institute of Tropical Medicine
Belgium

Chief Manager
Genetics and Ecology Platform
PoloGGB
Italy

Dr. Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH
Director
Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
Center for Malaria Control and Elimination
PATH

Prof. Claudia Emerson, PhD
Director, Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation,
Associate Professor, Philosophy
McMaster University,
Canada

Prof. Lizette L. Koekemoer
Research Professor/Director
Wits Research Institute for Malaria
University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa

Dr. Charles Mugoya
Chairperson,
National Biosafety Committee
Uganda National Council for Science and Technology
Uganda

Victoria Seaver Dean
President
Seaver Institute
USA

Brian B. Tarimo
Research Scientist-Vector Biology & Parasitology
Department of Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences
Ifakara Health Institute
Tanzania

Dr. Laurie Zoloth
Margaret E. Burton Professor
Senior Advisor to the Provost
Programs in Social Ethics
University of Chicago
USA

Prof. Neil Ferguson
Director, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
Head, Dept. of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Vice-Dean (Academic Development), Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College London
UK

Prof. Abdallah Daar
Professor of Clinical Public Health and Global Health
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Professor of Surgery
University of Toronto,
Canada

Dr. Mamadou Coulibaly
University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako,
Mali

Prof. Steven Russell
Professor of Genome Biology
Department of Genetics
University of Cambridge,
UK

Prof. Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena
Professor
Johns Hopkins University
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Malaria Research Institute
USA

Dr. Diabate Abdoulaye
Chef de Bureau liaison recherche développement de la Direction Régionale de l’Ouest de l’IRSS, Burkina Faso Maitre de Recherche Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques
Principal Investigator, Target Malaria Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso

Dr. John Godwin
Department of Biological Sciences
North Carolina State University,
USA

Prof. Anthony A. James
University of California Irvine Malaria Initiative
Tata Institute for Genetics and Society
USA

Prof. Nora J. Besansky
O’Hara Professor of Biology
Department of Biological Sciences & Eck Institute of Global Health
University of Notre Dame,
USA

Leonard Mboera
Southern African Center for Infectious Disease Surveillance
Dr. Jonathan Kayondo
Senior Research Officer/ Ag HoD Division of Entomology
Uganda Virus Research Institute,
Uganda

Prof. Andrea Crisanti
Professor of Molecular Parasitology
Imperial College London
UK

Prof. Sir Charles Godfray FRS
Oxford University
UK

Prof. Luke Alphey
Group Leader, Arthropod Genetics
Pirbright Institute
UK

Dr. Alekos Simoni
Research Associate,
Imperial College London,
UK

Prof. Tom Burkot
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine
James Cook University
Australia

Prof Raymond J. Monnat, Jr. M.D.
Professor of Pathology and Genome Sciences
Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering
University of Washington,
USA

Dr. Omar S. Akbari
Division of Biological Sciences
Section of Cell and Developmental Biology
University of California San Diego,
USA

Prof. Barry Stoddard
Member
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,
USA

Jerome Amir Singh
Ethical, Legal, Social Issues Advisory Services on Global Health Research and Development
South Africa

Greta Immobile Molaro
Chief Executive Officer
Polo d’Innovazione Genomica, Genetica e Biologia,
Italy

Prof. David Threadgill
Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
Texas A & M University,
USA

Prof. George Christophides
Professor of Infectious Diseases & Immunity
Imperial College London,
UK
Principal Investigator, Transmission: Zero

Dr. Karl Campbell
South America Regional Director
Island Conservation
Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents Steering Committee

Dr. Nikolai Windbichler
Lecturer,
Imperial College London,
UK
Principal Investigator Transmission: Zero

Prof. Beth Shapiro
Professor
University of California Santa Cruz,
USA

Kevin M. Esvelt
Assistant Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
USA

Dr. Jason A. Delborne
Associate Professor
Genetic Engineering and Society Center
North Carolina State University,
USA

Roberta Spaccapelo
Department of Experimental Medicine
University of Perugia,
Italy

John Marshall
Assistant Professor
University of California Berkeley School of Public Health,
USA

Prof. Gregory Lanzaro
Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
USA

Brian Richard Lovett
Department of Entomology
University of Maryland,
USA

Prof. Paul Thomas
University of Adelaide,
Australia

Prof. Ethan Bier
University of California, San Diego
Tata Institute for Genetics and Society
University of California, Irvine Malaria Initiative
USA

Dr. S. Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH
Professor of Population and Family Health
Columbia University Medical Center
USA

Prof. Kevin Marsh
Professor of Tropical Medicine
University of Oxford
UK
Senior Adviser
African Academy of Sciences

Dr. Edward Katongole-Mbidde
Scientist
Uganda Virus Research Institute
Uganda

Prof. Paulo Paes de Andrade
Professor of Genetics
Federal University of Pernambuco
Brazil

Allan Ronald OC OM MD FRSC,
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
University of Manitoba
Canada

Dr. Shaibal Kumar Dasgupta
Tata Institute for Genetics and Society
India

Michael Gottlieb
Associate Director of Science, Retired
Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
USA

Dr. Roya E. Haghighat-Khah
Research Associate
Imperial College London
UK

Dr. Paul Ndebele
Senior Research Regulatory Specialist
Office of Research Excellence
George Washington University
USA

Prof. Michael Bonsall
University of Oxford
UK

Prof. Ingrid M. Parker
Professor and Chair
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California Santa Cruz
USA

Prof. Azra Ghani
Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health
Imperial College London
UK

Dr. Tony Nolan
Senior Research Fellow
Imperial College London
UK

Prof. Paul Lasko, FRSC
Department of Biology
University of McGill
Canada

Prof. Zach N. Adelman
Professor and Presidential Impact Fellow
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
USA

Dr. Philippos A Papathanos
Senior Lecturer
Department of Entomology
Robert H Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel

Dr. Michael J. Smanski
University of Minnesota
USA

Prof. Frédéric Tripet
Director
Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology
Keele University School of Life Sciences
UK

Dr. Jeremy K. Herren
International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology
Kenya

Prof. John Mumford
Professor of Natural Resource Management
Centre for Environmental Policy
Imperial College London
UK

Prof. Steve Lindsay
Chair in Public Health Entomology
Durham University
UK

Valentino Gantz
Assistant Research Scientist
University of California San Diego
USA

Dr. Chris A. Wozniak
Biologist
USA

Dr. Michael R. Reddy
Senior Scientist
Microsoft Research
USA

Dr. Fredros Okumu
Director of Science
Ifakara Health Institute
Tanzania

Prof. Traoré Sékou F.
Director of the Malaria Research and Training Center/Entomology
Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry
Mali

Prof. Halidou Tinto, PharmD PhD
Regional Director
IRSS Nanoro
Head
Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro
Burkina Faso

Megan Serr
Research Associate
Department of Biology
North Carolina State University
USA

Dimitri Blondel
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Biology
North Carolina State University
USA

Andrew Veale
Senior Lecturer
Department of Environment and Animal Sciences
UNITEC
New Zealand

Daniel White
Research Fellow
University of Western Australia
Australia

Dr. Louis G. Mukwaya
Scientific Advisor
Uganda Virus Research Institute
Uganda

Prof. Nelson K. Sewankambo
Professor of Medicine and Director of THRiVE
Makerere University of Public Health Sciences
Uganda

Michelle Connolly
Network Manager
ANTI-VeC (a GCRF Network in Vector Borne Disease)
MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR)
University of Glasgow
UK

Prof. George Church
Harvard Medical School
USA

Prof. Immo Kleinschmidt
Professor of Epidemiology
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
UK

Prof. Robin Lovell-Badge
Senior Group Leader and Head
Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics
Francis Crick Institute
UK

Prof. Robert M. Waterhouse
Department of Ecology and Evolution
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
University of Lausanne
Switzerland

Prof. Mariangela Bonizzoni
Professor of Zoology
Department of Biology and Biotechnology
University of Pavia
Italy

Ben Novak
Lead Scientist
Revive & Restore

Dr Frederic Simard
French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)
France

Prof. Claudio Valladares Padua
Researcher and Professor
Brazil

Dr. Sabrina Absalon
Research Associate
Department of Infectious Diseases
Boston Children’s Hospital
USA

Alun L. Lloyd
Drexel Professor and Director of Biomathematics Program
Department of Mathematics
North Carolina State University
USA

Prof. Jo Lines
Professor of Malaria Control and Vector Biology
London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine
UK

N. Regina Rabinovich
ExxonMobil Scholar in Residence
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
USA

Prof. Nicole Achee
Research Professor
Eck Institute of Global Health
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Notre Dame
USA

Dr. Philip Leftwich
Research Associate
Pirbright Institute
UK

Pr. Roch K. Dabiré
Directeur de Recherche
Chercheur Entomologiste Médical
Directeur Régional de l’IRSS
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques
Burkina Faso

Michael Smith
South West Regional Ecologist
Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Australia

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For more information or interview requests, contact Michal Fishman at +1 504-220-2792 or Michal.Fishman@MalariaNoMore.org

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Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. More than a decade into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. Malaria No More has offices in the United States, Cameroon, Kenya and India and affiliates in Japan and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org

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