Nsa Dada, PhD
Research background, interest, and the origin of this initiative
I am broadly interested in unravelling the microbial mechanisms that drive diverse living and non-living systems. Drawing from a multidisciplinary background and expertise in entomology, parasitology, microbiology, genomics and bioinformatics, my research has largely been at the intersection of the biology, ecology/microbial ecology, evolution and control of parasites and disease vectors across Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and most recently, invasive mosquito populations in Europe.
My research efforts are currently concentrated on understanding the evolution of microbe-mediated phenotypic variations in disease vectors as a function of biotic and abiotic factors. Along these lines, I am developing a research program that is aimed at understanding how microbes (both host and environmentally-derived) shape the evolution of insecticide resistance in mosquito vectors. And I use a combination of molecular, ‘omics and classsical (micro)biology tools, as well as bioinformatics, to explore this in wild mosquito populations and/or their progeny under laboratory settings. The idea for this initiative came to me while working on the first few experiments of this program (ca. 2015, CDC headquarters Atlanta), as I had to navigate challenges posed by a lack of prior published whole (meta)genome sequencing methods for characterizing mosquito microbiomes. Even more so were the challenges in data analysis, posed by a lack of curated catalogues/repositories of genes from mosquito associated microbes. Thus began my quest for solutions, and along the way I met several colleagues with similar interests, who would later become Co-Founders of this initiative. These colleagues and I met up at the 2017 Keystone Symposium on Vectors, Pathogens and Diseases in Durban, South Africa, and decided to collectively work on finding solutions for these challenges. The Mosquito Microbiome Consortium was born following several brainstorming sessions at that meeting.
I am also highly involved in other initiatives (for example G-AVENIR) that are focused on expanding disease vector genomics research in Africa–in particular, I am working towards establishing sustainable bioinformatics resources and capacity on the continent.
I am driven by a passion for mentoring and training the next generation of scientists, as well as closing the gaps in research capacity, talent and resources in the Global South, particularly Africa. When I am not chasing mosquitoes in the field, pampering/processing them in the lab, wrangling data or writing at my desk, I enjoy hiking, cooking, creating crafts and keeping up with trends and developments in bioinformatics.