Raikhel, a distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside, has received wide acclaim for the high quality of his research, especially in the areas of insect reproductive biology and the innate immunity in insects. His lab specializes in understanding the molecular basis of events in the mosquito reproduction cycle linked to a blood meal and pathogen transmission. His research focuses, too, on how pathogens of major human diseases, transmitted by mosquitoes, interact with their mosquito hosts.
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes have contributed to the death and suffering of millions throughout human history. Even today, several mosquito-borne diseases continue to rage. Malaria alone causes over a million deaths annually. Dengue fever is emerging across the globe at an alarming rate; more than three billion people are now at risk of contracting this serious and debilitating viral disease. West Nile virus has invaded and spread throughout North America in just one decade; thousands in the United States are afflicted with this mosquito-borne virus every year.
Numerous factors contribute to the failure of traditional methods for disease and mosquito control, including: rapid development of drug and insecticide resistance, climate change, poverty, and social/political instability. Unfortunately, no effective vaccines for malaria, Dengue fever or West Nile virus exist.
“There is a growing recognition in the scientific community that exploring functions specific to mosquitoes and their interactions with disease pathogens will lay the foundation for novel vector and pathogen control strategies,” said Raikhel, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “In my lecture, I will review our efforts in developing functional genomics and genetically engineered mosquitoes resistant to pathogens, and outline new exciting progress in disease vector research at the University of California Riverside.”
Raikhel holds a University of California Presidential Chair and the Mir S. Mulla Chair in Entomology. He is an international leader in the field of insect physiology and endocrinology. He is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America as well as of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He has authored more than 130 published scientific articles, along with 29 book chapters and 11 review articles. His papers are regularly accepted in to the most respected peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Immunity, Molecular Cellular Biology and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
His research goal of using mosquito molecular biology to interfere with the capacity of arthropods to transmit fatal human diseases has contributed to the regular awarding of multi-million dollar sole investigator grants from the National Institutes of Health. Due to his profile and leadership, he is regularly called upon to present his research to premier universities and symposia around the world, and has been a guest lecturer at universities in China, Australia and Italy among others. He has been awarded the Honorary Bingzu Forum Professorship and appointed an Honorary Professor of the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents at the Zoological Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The Faculty Research Lecturer Award, first offered in 1952, is the highest honor the UCR Academic Senate bestows. Raikhel won the award last year.