Professor of Molecular Parasitology, Imperial College London

Andrea Crisanti (born 1954) is an Italian Professor of Molecular Parasitology at Imperial College London where he is best known for the development of genetically manipulated mosquitoes with the objective to interfere with either their reproductive rate or the capability to transmit diseases such as malaria. The most recently published findings on genetically engineered mosquitoes were published in January 2015, in the journal, Nature Biotechnology, Vol 34, in which reports on the development of a gene-drive system which "enables super-Mendelian inheritance of a transgene [...] over a timeframe of a few years." The gene in question effectively renders females of the species sterille, while maintaining male fertility.

Crisanti earned his bachelor's degree in Italy at Sapienza University of Rome. At the Basel Institute for Immunology, while studying for his PhD, Crisanti discovered the IL2 receptor of immature thymocytes. Crisanti served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) at the University of Heidelberg. In 1994, Crisanti became a lecturer at Imperial College, before being appointed Professor in 2000. He is also the director of the Centre of Functional Genomics at the University of Perugia. He is an author of over 100 scientific publications in leading scientific journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, The EMBO Journal, Cell, Science and Nature.

At Imperial College London, Crisanti has established the technologies to eliminate the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Crisanti's work exploits the biological properties of a class of selfish genetic elements (homing endonuclease) to develop a gene transfer technology. Using such technology, Crisanti has developed genetically manipulated mosquitoes producing a male-only progeny. In the future, further refinements of the technology may lead to the development of vector control tools based on the release of just a few genetically modified mosquitoes. Via natural breeding, the genes can effectively spread to large field mosquito populations, reducing malaria-spreading mosquito numbers in the wild and ultimately decreasing malaria incidence.

In 2011, Crisanti was appointed editor-in-chief of medical journal Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, which in 2012 under Crisanti's leadership became Pathogens and Global Health, reflecting the journal's newly formed broader focus. Crisanti is a chairman of the scientific panel of the EU Marie Curie Programme, I-Move, and has advised on issues concerning the safety of genetically modified insects for the Consilium Pontificium of the Vatican City and the European Food Safety Authority.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Molecular Parasitology, Imperial College London