Biologist Fabio Mendonça Gomes dedicated five years to studying mosquitoes abroad. His research, partially conducted at the National Institute of Health in Washington and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, aims to comprehend why certain mosquitoes contract parasites when they consume blood while others remain unaffected.
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Gomes obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees in biophysics from the Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics Institute at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. His post-doctoral research included a stint at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. After five years, he returned to Brazil, driven by his desire to watch the Flamengo soccer team play on their home turf. When he’s not immersed in his lab work, Gomes enjoys exploring new restaurants, reading history and science fiction books, and watching soccer matches.
Our diet affects our health and can influence whether we get sick during an infection. Similarly, dietary health is also an important factor in the immune competence of other animals, including female mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes feed on blood to obtain the nutritional reserves used to make eggs. However, it is unclear how the quality of the blood ingested by mosquitoes affects their health and ability to transmit diseases.
As a pandemic of malnutrition, obesity, and diabetes spreads, we ask whether variations in blood composition caused by dietary imbalance can affect the health of the mosquitoes that ingest this blood. We also want to know if these changes in blood composition affect mosquitoes’ ability to transmit a huge range of diseases to humans.