GeneConvene’s Work and Impact

The GeneConvene Global Collaborative, an initiative of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), builds on more than 10 years of work by the FNIH on genetic biocontrol approaches for public health. GeneConvene offers technical information, advice, training and coordination for research on gene drive and other genetic biocontrol technologies to support responsible development and informed decision-making.

Looking for the Gene Drive Research Forum? Click here.

 

List Arrow

Identifying and Addressing Key Questions

  • Anticipate key questions that will need to be addressed
  • Respond proactively, working with international experts to identify answers and solutions

List Arrow

Providing Technical Advice

  • Scope scientific, regulatory and policy landscapes
  • Support independent risk assessment
  • Advise stakeholders on relevant issues and available resources

List Arrow

Strengthening Capacity and Sharing Information

  • Provide technical training and information to scientists, regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders and publics
  • Facilitate communication within and among stakeholder groups

Identifying and Addressing Key Questions


Biocontrol timeline
Click to expand

For more than 10 years, the FNIH has engaged with experts in identifying and addressing key questions for genetic biocontrol approaches for public health. Contributions of particular note include:

Read more to learn about other recommendations and guidance facilitated by the FNIH. GeneConvene will continue to support efforts to clarify the development pathway for gene drive and other genetic biocontrol technologies for public health. Examples of current GeneConvene activities include:

  • Coordinating development of consensus guidance for containment of genetically modified and gene drive modified insects. GeneConvene is working with individuals and professional organizations active in entomology research to update established arthropod containment guidance to encompass new genetic technologies.
  • Establishing parameters for preferred product characteristics of gene drive modified mosquitoes. GeneConvene published preliminary recommendations for safety and efficacy criteria in 2020 and continues to seek additional perspectives on stakeholder expectations for the function of gene drive modified mosquitoes as public health tools for prevention of malaria transmission.
  • Advancing thinking on the design of efficacy field trials for gene drive modified mosquitoes. The potential for spread of driving genetic elements into the local mosquito population presents new issues for design of field trial protocols. GeneConvene is bringing together scientists with relevant experience in testing of other types of mosquito and malaria control tools to consider innovative trial design options for safe and ethical conduct of field trials.
  • Informing approaches for monitoring and surveillance of field releases of gene drive modified mosquitoes. GeneConvene is consulting experts in field biology, medical entomology, ecology and detection of invasive species to consider methods and resources to monitor for the persistence and spatial spread of gene drive modified mosquitoes in field testing and implementation.

Providing Technical Advice

GeneConvene uses its experience and well-established partnerships in biosafety and public health to provide technical advice to stakeholders on a range of scientific, regulatory and policy issues relevant to genetic biocontrol technologies. Examples include:

  • Survey and analysis of the legislation and policies governing genetic biocontrol in different countries.
  • Support for independent hazard analyses and risk assessments of genetic biocontrol development programs. Risk assessment informs development of risk management procedures and is a standard prerequisite for regulatory authorization. The FNIH has facilitated risk assessment activities including problem formulation with global stakeholders and in collaboration with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and probabilistic risk assessments in partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to provide independent external assessments, complementing risk analyses conducted by developers and regulatory authorities.
  • Contribution to international efforts to supply information that will be informative for regulatory review of proposed uses of gene drive modified mosquitoes. To facilitate future risk assessments of genetically modified Anopheles gambiae, the FNIH contributed to the development of an Anopheles gambiae biology consensus document through a collaboration with the African Biosafety Network of Expertise, the Agriculture and Food Systems Institute, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This document will provide comprehensive information on the mosquito and its environmental interactions. The FNIH co-sponsored the kick-off meeting that brought a team of experts together to create this document.

GeneConvene will continue to provide support and expertise to underpin full consideration of biosafety, regulatory and policy aspects of genetic biocontrol research and development. Contact us to explore options to access GeneConvene technical advice and support.

Strengthening Capacity and Sharing Information

GeneConvene provides technical and regulatory capacity strengthening activities through developing and executing educational training programs and discussion-based workshops providing important information to stakeholders for informed decision making.

Biocontrol timelineAUDA-NEPAD regional workshop on regulatory capacity strengthening

  • Regulatory Capacity Strengthening: The FNIH worked with partners to strengthen capacity for evaluation of gene drive approaches in Africa. In 2017-2019, the FNIH provided technical training and facilitation to four regional workshops convened by AUDA-NEPAD to strengthen regulatory capacity in member countries.
  • Technical Capacity Strengthening: The FNIH worked with partners to strengthen scientific and scientific communications capacity on gene drive approaches. For example, it partnered with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya, Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development (TReND) in Africa, and the African Academy of Sciences to provide opportunities for dissemination of information on gene editing and gene drive technologies and their potential applications in Africa.
  • The Gene Drive Research Forum provides a regular opportunity for representatives from research institutions, government, not-for-profit and private sectors, and others with an interest in safe and ethical conduct of research across potential applications in public health, conservation and agriculture to share information and discuss issues relevant to overarching Principles for Gene Drive Research.

Read more to learn about capacity strengthening activities facilitated by the FNIH. GeneConvene plans to continue supporting African organizations in their efforts to disseminate information on genetic biocontrol and gene drive technologies through meetings and workshops. GeneConvene also will continue its support for the Gene Drive Research Forum. In addition, the forthcoming GeneConvene Virtual Institute will offer an array of information on relevant research and policy to a broad range of stakeholders.

*Science cover on timeline reprinted by permission of AAAS. Readers may view, browse, and/or download material for temporary copying purposes only, provided these uses are for noncommercial personal purposes. Except as provided by law, this material may not be further reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, adapted, performed, displayed, published, or sold in whole or in part, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Front Page: