Dr. Abdoulaye Diabaté is the Head of the Medical Entomology and Parasitology at the Research Institute in Health Sciences (Institut de Recherche en Science de la Santé (IRSS) /Centre Muraz) in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso and the Principal Investigator of Target Malaria Burkina Faso.
With over 20 years of experience in vector control, the fight against malaria is Dr Diabaté’s personal battle. His vocation started as a young child, growing up in Kénédougou province in the South West of Burkina at the border with Mali, when his siblings and him became repeteadly ill and nearly died several times from the disease. He decided that if he had survived then it was to find a solution to this treatable disease that takes the lives of half a million every year in the world.
As pointed by Dr Diabaté, in Burkina Faso, you would not meet anyone born and raised in the country who hasn’t experienced malaria. The psychological and financial drain is immense on families. This is what motivated Dr Diabaté to dedicate his life to the fight against malaria.
“Malaria is one of the deadliest parasitic diseases. It has killed millions of people, but I am a fortunate survivor.”
Following his Phd, Dr Diabaté worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (United States) for four years. His work focused on the “ecological specialization” of Anopheles gambiae as a major evolutionary force generating biological diversity, which can lead to speciation; the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution.
Dr. Diabaté has been back in Burkina Faso working at the Research Institute in Health Sciences since 2009 where he heads the medical entomology laboratory. His extensive work on resistance to insecticides has led him to pursue new tools for vector control, when he sadly realized that the efficacy of bed nets was no longer progressing.
“The conventional tools that we have at our disposal today have reached their limit”
He joined the Target Malaria project in 2012 when he established Target Malaria Burkina Faso. He has since become a leader in malaria research and in genetical approaches to malaria reduction in Africa. His leadership and Burkina Faso’s pioneering approach to genetic technologies have led the project to be the most advanced country in the world looking at the application of gene drive technology to reduce malaria.
“My whole family has been affected by the disease, including myself and my children”
Dr Diabaté works with the world’s leading organizations (Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, George Washington University, University of Keele, Imperial College, IRD, etc). He won the prize for the best oral presentation at the 9th international meeting “Molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious diseases” in California, USA in 2008. Currently, he is a reviewer for several journals (BMC Ecology, PlosOne, Malaria Journal etc.), member of several professional organizations including the Scientific Coordination Committee (CSC) of AMANET, and the African Network on Vector Resistance to Insecticides ( ANVR), Member of the Organizing Committee of the Workshop on Population and Molecular Biology of Disease Vectors.
Finaly, he is a knight of the Academic Palms of Burkina, recipient of the prize of the Royal Academy of England in 2013 for his research, Recipient of prize of two research programs magnifying the excellence and the leadership of the MRC / UK and the Grand Challenge / Canada.
In 2020, Dr Diabaté and a team of eight researchers from Burkina Faso and the United states received the 2019 Newcomb Cleveland Prize at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 186th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. for the paper “Transgenic Metarhizium rapidly kills mosquitoes in a malaria-endemic region of Burkina Faso” published in Science on 31 May 2019.
Dr Abdoulaye Diabaté and his team of eight researchers based in the United States and Burkina Faso for receiving the Dr Diabaté’s ambition is to make sure that Africa has a vibrant research community. He is concerned about the “brain drain” of African scientists when the need for science, technology and innovation is so stark on the Continent. He is committeed to bringing investment in science to Africa. He likes to paraphrase a quote from Thomas Sankara, former President of Burkina Faso: “Some have embarked on the conquest of the stars, but Africa has not yet finished with the war of the caves. It’s time for us to wake up”.
For more information:
- Entretien avec Dr Abdoulaye Diabaté from Target Malaria on Vimeo.
- Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdoulaye_Diabate
- Interview of Dr Abdoulaye Diabaté: https://vimeo.com/352069726
- Grand Challenge video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgP3iNWBNOE&feature=emb_title
- WHO Burkina Faso Malaria Country Profile: https://www.who.int/malaria/publications/country-profiles/profile_bfa_en.pdf?ua=1
- Target Malaria Burkina Faso https://targetmalaria.org/where-we-operate/
- Science 364(6443):894-897 and DOI:1126/science.aaw8737