Residency Period: August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020

Resident at IEAT, João Trindade Marques is an Associate Professor and member of the faculty at the Department of Biochemistry and Immunology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais since 2010. He holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (1997), a master’s degree (1998) and a doctorate (2002) by the Graduate Program in Microbiology at the Institute of Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He performed postdoctoral work at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland / OH (2002 to 2006) and at Northwestern University in Chicago / IL (2006 to 2010), both in the USA. He works in the areas of Immunology and Microbiology with emphasis on the role of non-coding RNAs and RNA pathways of interference in the virus-host interaction in invertebrate models such as the mosquito Aedes aegypti and the fly Drosophila melanogaster.


In recent decades, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of infections by viruses transmitted by mosquito vectors, the so-called arboviruses, including Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. The Dengue virus alone is currently responsible for approximately 400 million new human infections per year worldwide. The number of annual cases of the disease has increased more than 30 times in the last 50 years. Between 2013 and 2016, Brazil had an average of more than 1 million cases per year of patients with Dengue. This scenario is compounded by the absence of vaccines and effective treatments against most arboviruses including dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. These viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes sp and the insect vector is one of the most important targets for preventing epidemics. Population control strategies have been widely used, from the simple use of insecticides to the release of radiation-sterilized or genetically modified mosquitoes. However, population control must be used continuously and, when the reduction is not complete, its real impact on the transmission of arboviruses is still uncertain. Natural resistance to infection by arboviruses such as the Dengue virus is widely documented in populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with large inter- and intra-population variations. Knowledge about natural resistance mechanisms could be exploited for the development of intervention strategies in mosquito populations in order to interfere or even block vectorial transmission. Our hypothesis is that the differential expression of genes observed among individuals of the same population will explain the variation in resistance to dengue virus infection observed in A. aegypti mosquitoes. In this project we will apply multi- and transdisciplinary strategies with a focus on bioinformatics analysis and state-of-the-art gene manipulation to combat vectorial transmission of arboviruses.