Vector-based Control of Transmission: Discovery Research

This program completed in June 2018.

The Vector-Based Control of Transmission: Discovery Research (VCTR) program supports innovative research on chemical and biologic approaches to control disease-transmitting mosquitoes and prevent the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Mosquitoes have been called “the deadliest animal in the world,” carrying diseases that kill an estimated 725,000 people every year. The worst of these diseases is malaria, which killed more than 400,000 people in 2013. More than 2.5 billion people live in areas where they risk being infected with the dengue virus. The VCTR program is an extension of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative and is managed by the FNIH in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and numerous academic institutions in the United States and around the world. The project investigators conduct research to develop biocontrol agents to prevent transmission of infectious diseases by mosquito vectors. The VCTR program supports Target Malaria, which aims to reduce the population of malaria transmitting mosquitoes in Africa. The VCTR program has previously supported two projects characterizing the molecular components involved in the mosquito’s host seeking behaviors and identifying compounds that could interfere with such behavior.

Learn about the Problem Formulation for the use of Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Workshop held on May 25-27, 2016, in Reston, Virginia.

Read the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Malaria Strategy Overview.


  • Develop new mosquito biocontrol methods using naturally occurring bacteria or genetic engineering.
  • Identify odorants that can prevent mosquitoes from biting humans.
  • Identify novel targets for new and more specific insecticides.

Results & Accomplishments

The program has resulted in development of two novel biocontrol technologies, on based on Wolbachia and the other on CRISPR-mediated gene drive.

Guidance Documents

Results from the Workshop “Problem Formulation for the Use of Gene Drive in Mosquitoes”. Roberts, et al. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 96(3):530–533, 2017.

Independent risk assessment for contained laboratory studies on a sterile male strain of Anopheles gambiae.

Guidance Framework for Testing of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes. World Health Organization, 2014.

Scientific Publications

Impact of mosquito gene drive on malaria elimination in a computational model with explicit spatial and temporal dynamics. Eckhoff PA et al. 2017 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jan 10;114(2):E255-E264.

A CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive system targeting female reproduction in the malaria mosquito vector Anopheles gambiae. 2016 Hammond A et al. 2016 Nature Biotechnology 34, 78–83.

A synthetic sex ratio distortion system for the control of the human malaria mosquito. 2014 Galizi R et al. Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 10; 5: 3977

Narrow SAR in odorant sensing Orco receptor antagonists. 2014 Romaine et al. Bioorg Med Chem Lett Jun 15; 24(12)2613-6.

A conserved aspartic acid is important for agonist (VUAA1) and odorant/tuning receptor-dependent activation of the insect odorant co-receptor (Orco). 2013 Kumar BN et al. PLoS One Jul 23 8(7):e70218.

Evolution of mosquito preference for humans linked to an odorant receptor. 2014 McBride CS et al. Nature Nov 13; 515(7526): 222-7.

Multimodal integration of carbon dioxide and other sensory cures drives mosquito attraction to humans. 2014 McMeniman CJ et al. Cell Feb 27; 156(5):1060-71.


Gates Notes (April 25, 2014): The Deadliest Animal in the World


Private-Sector Partners:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation*
Vestaron Corporation

Academic Partners:
Colorado State University
Columbia University
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Imperial College London
Monash University
Ohio State University
University of California, Irvine
University of Florida
University of Oxford
University of Queensland
Vanderbilt University

*Provided financial or in-kind support for this program.

FNIH Contact

Stephanie James, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Science,