Professor says genetically modified mosquitoes can stop dengue fever

Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry
Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry

In a new article, Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry, explains how genetically modified mosquitoes can help stop the spread of dengue fever, a virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The article appears in The Conversation, a collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish.

“The genetically modified mosquitoes breed with their wild counterparts, yielding offspring that will die as larvae,” Zimmer writes. “When enough males are released, their mating with wild females will collapse the population. It’s like a form of birth control for the mosquitoes, since no offspring make it past the larval stage.”

Zimmer, who was named Connecticut Professor of the Year in 2007, is the author of “Glowing Genes: A Revolution in Biotechnology.” Glowing Genes was the first popular science book on jellyfish and firefly proteins, which can help fight cancer, create new products, improve agriculture and combat terrorism.

In his most recent book, “Illuminating Disease: An Introduction to Green Fluorescent Proteins,” Zimmer details the history of genetically modified fluorescent parasites and viruses, and shows how doctors and scientists can better understand diseases by illuminating microscopic interactions occurring in living cells.

Video: Meet Zimmer and his students in the Illuminating Disease class.

At Connecticut College, Zimmer’s research group is mainly interested in the structural and photophysical properties of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). This work is funded by the National Institute of Health and the Research Corporation. In 2008 he attended the Nobel Prize ceremony, the year that the chemistry award was presented to three scientists for their GFP research.

June 30, 2015