Target Malaria Burkina Faso receives the prestigious 2019 Newcomb Cleveland Prize at the AAAS

Posted 20th March 2020 by Raymond J. Monnat, Jr. M.D.

Join us in congratulating Target Malaria team member and Burkina Faso Principal Investigator Dr Abdoulaye Diabaté and his team of eight researchers based in the United States and Burkina Faso for receiving the 2019 Newcomb Cleveland Prize at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr 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. His colleague, Etienne Bilgo, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biomedical Sciences at the IRSS. Together, they received the award at the 186th AAAS Annual Meeting held in Seattle, WA on February 13, 2020.

Drs Diabaté and Bilgo brought more than a little style and stage presence to the ceremony

The Newcomb-Cleveland Prize is one of the highest honors bestowed by the Association. It was first given in 1923 to recognize an outstanding, impactful paper published as a Research Article or Report in the AAAS journal Science in the previous year. The AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, with members in more than 91 countries around the globe. Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the publisher of cutting-edge research through their Science family of journals.

The Newcomb-Cleveland Prize is competitive, given annually to one author or group of authors of for their paper reporting original research data, theory or synthesis in any area of science. The work must represent a fundamental contribution to basic knowledge, or a technical achievement of far-reaching consequence. Only one paper is selected for this Prize each year from the 100’s published in Science.

The Prize includes a Newcomb-Cleveland medal, a monetary award and sponsorship to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Target Malaria awardees at the AAAS meeting: Ray Monnat with his AAAS Fellow Election certificate and Abdoulaye Diabaté with his Newcomb Cleveland medal.

The prize-winning Science Research Article published by Diabate and colleagues, with members of the laboratory of Raymond St.Leger at the University of Maryland, Baltimore USA, was entitled ‘Transgenic Metarhizium rapidly kills mosquitoes in a malaria-endemic region of Burkina Faso’. It reports genetic modification of the naturally-occurring fungus Metarhizium pingshaense to express an insect-specific toxin.

These modified fungi were then shown to be effective in killing mosquitoes in a semi-field MosquitoSphere (a contained, near-natural environment) trial in Soumousso, Burkina Faso where malaria is endemic.

Abdoulaye Diabaté, Etienne Bilgo, Brian Lovett, and other AAAS members

The authors state in their report that ‘deployment of transgenic Metarhizium against mosquitoes could (subject to appropriate registration) be rapid, with products that could synergistically integrate with existing chemical control strategies to avert insecticide resistance.’

It can be found at: Science 364(6443):894-897 and DOI:10.1126/science.aaw8737

Congratulations to Diabaté and his colleagues for this impressive work and recognition!