Nicole Achee to serve on NAS committee examining the responsible use of gene technology

Author: Stephanie Healey

Nicole Achee

Nicole Achee, research associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been appointed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to participate in an ad hoc committee for the project, “Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms: Recommendations for Responsible Conduct.”

Organized by the National Research Council at the NAS, the goal of the 15-month project is to review the state of the science of gene driven research that relies on genome editing techniques and to identify the immediate and long-term potential environmental and public health implications raised by individual applications of gene drive technology.  The project committee will examine animal, plants, and insect vector case studies to characterize and assess environmental and other hazards to target and non-target organisms. The project aims to identify key scientific techniques for reducing ecological and other risks that should be considered prior to field releases of organisms containing genes drives.

“As an academic, I have a professional responsibility to make career contributions that will impact the wider community. This includes establishing best practices for research and development to match advancements in innovative technology,” Achee said. “The current study is an important effort based on cutting-edge science and I am honored to be a member of the committee.”

Joining the University of Notre Dame and Eck Institute for Global Health in 2013, Achee is a medical entomologist with over 15 years of experience in vector ecology research related to the epidemiology and control of arthropod-borne diseases. She is currently a principal investigator of a multi-country study that will evaluate the public health impact of a spatial repellent product to prevent transmission of malaria and dengue.

Achee also serves as a Working Group Member for the World Health Organization (WHO) Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES), is the Chair of the American Committee of Medical Entomology within the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and a member of the WHO Global Collaboration for the Development of Pesticides for Public Health partnership (GCDPP).