Genetically Modified Mosquitoes 

And The Future Of Mosquito Control

November 4, 2021 – 9:00am PDT (11:00am CDT | 4:00 PM UTC )

In 2021, the first genetically modified mosquitoes were released in the United States as part of field a testing experiment a method for suppressing populations of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. News of this work spread rapidly in the malaria prevention community as a potential technology that could inform the future of malaria control. 

This highly anticipated event will provide an overview of Oxitec’s work, particularly the Oxitec Mosquito Project. We will share information on the challenges this project faced (including regulatory) and the future of genetically modifying mosquitos for disease prevention. 

Our Panelists

Rajeev Vaidyanathan

Rajeev Vaidyanathan

Director of U.S. Programs

Rajeev Vaidyanathan, Ph.D., completed his B.S. in entomology from Cornell University, his M.S. in entomology from UMASS-Amherst, and his Ph.D. in parasitology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Hadassah Medical School. He completed postdocs in insect immunity at CNRS-Strasbourg, France, and in mosquito vector competence at UC-Davis. Rajeev was Associate Director of Vector Biology and Zoonotic Disease at SRI International, where he managed programs in novel target site validation for mosquito larvicides and adulticides and bed bug control in lower-income housing, resulting in patents for ectoparasite detection. He then served as Director of Entomology at Clarke Mosquito, where he was responsible for the validation of molecules from microbial, botanical, and invertebrate sources as novel active ingredients (AIs) in mosquito larvicides and adulticides. He has served as a medical entomology consultant for dozens of companies interested in commercializing new AIs for mosquito, black fly, tick, and bed bug control or repellence. He works with mosquito and vector control districts to assess, improve, and conduct mosquito surveillance and control, especially before and after natural disasters. As Director of U.S. Programs at Oxitec, he supports teams evaluating the efficacy and duration of transgenic Aedes aegypti to control this invasive species.

Meredith Fensom

Meredith Fensom

Head of Global Public Affairs

Meredith leads Oxitec’s advocacy, policy and stakeholder engagement worldwide.  Meredith’s positions before joining Oxitec include serving as the Intrexon Corporation (renamed Precigen, Inc. in February 2020) Head of Global Public Affairs, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) founding Director for International Affairs; manager of an agricultural trade business and policy consulting firm; Special Assistant in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office of the Americas; and founding Director of the University of Florida’s Law & Policy in the Americas Program.  Meredith has litigated matters of international law and was a Fulbright Scholar in Santiago, Chile, where she assisted in the design and evaluation of Chile’s judicial reform process.  She was also awarded CIBER and FLAS Fellowships to Brazil.  She has served as a consultant to various multilateral institutions including the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations’ International Trade Centre and the World Bank.  Meredith received a J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies, an undergraduate degree from Furman University and is pursuing a Global Executive MBA with INSEAD in France.  She is fluent in Spanish, conversant in Portuguese and has a basic understanding of French.

Our Moderator

Kaj Pederson, District 5030

Kaj Pederson, District 5030

Chief Technology Officer at AstrumU

Kaj Pedersen is a software executive currently leading technology for AstrumU and with over 20 years’ experience in venture creation: FinTech, MedTech, EdTech, Search and Investment Management. He is an entrepreneur at heart with a proven record of success in setting strategic directions and leading teams to reach challenging goals.   Kaj was born in Kitwe, Zambia starting a nomadic existence with opportunities to live in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Morocco, France, Germany, Denmark, Scotland, England, California, and Washington. His hobby is mountaineering which he began as a boy climbing African Kopjes before moving onto larger peaks, including two of the seven summits.  Kaj’s educational journey included actively giving back to the community and was inspired by Kurt Hahn’s philosophy while at school.  He continues making an impact in his community through his active involvement with Rotary and is the current District Governor Nominee for 5030.  Rotary’s focus on polio eradication and fighting malaria are two topics that are of particular interest to Kaj as his mother experienced both conditions in her life and this motivates his desire to see these diseases eradicated from our communities.

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The Malaria Partners International Webinar Series was created in an effort to increase the dialogue around malaria, specifically around subjects that are under-addressed on a wide scale. We seek to amplify voices and build connections within the global health community centered around malaria.