Burkina Faso's Scientist Honoured with Falling Walls Science & Innovation Prize 2023 for Pioneering Malaria Research

Dr. Prosper Executive Director PAMCA, Dr. Abdoulaye Diabate, Director of Centre of Excellence and PAMCA Burkina Faso Chair, and Prof. Steve Sinkins, Director of Anti-Vec during CEA/ITECH-MTV launch event in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's own Prof. Abdoulaye Diabaté has achieved international acclaim as one of the 10 global winners of the prestigious Falling Walls Science & Innovation Prize. Prof. Diabaté's groundbreaking contributions to the field of medical entomology and his unwavering commitment to malaria control through innovative genetic technologies have garnered well-deserved global recognition.

As the sole African recipient of this esteemed award, Prof. Diabaté's achievement not only highlights his exceptional scientific endeavours but also underscores the pivotal role that African scientists play in addressing global health challenges, with a special focus on malaria.

His pioneering research centers around harnessing the potential of gene drive technology to combat malaria transmission. At the helm of the Medical Entomology and Parasitology department at Burkina Faso's Research Institute in Health Sciences (IRSS), his work offers a promising avenue for malaria control. Collaborating through Target Malaria, an initiative dedicated to developing cutting-edge vector control tools, Prof. Diabaté's research aims to supplement existing methods and ultimately eradicate malaria from the African continent.

The award recognizes Prof. Diabaté's unique approach, which places strong emphasis on international scientific partnerships and collaborative research with institutions in malaria-affected African nations, as well as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy. Notably, Target Malaria ensures that communities affected by its research are fully engaged and consulted throughout the process, building bridges between science and society.

With half a million annual malaria-related deaths in Africa and a child succumbing to malaria every minute, the urgency of his work is strikingly evident. Prof. Diabaté envisions the development of safe and effective gene drive mosquitoes that can be used alongside other vector control measures to significantly reduce malaria cases and deaths on the continent.

In his own words, "I want to center research on African problems in Africa. African researchers are best placed to design and conduct research on issues affecting African countries. There are half a million deaths per year and a child dying from malaria every minute in Africa. I hope that we will develop an effective and safe strain of gene drive mosquitoes that can be used in several years in Africa, alongside other vector control tools, to decrease transmission rates and ultimately reduce malaria cases and deaths on the continent."

Prof. Diabaté's vision extends far beyond accolades; he aspires to develop a safe and effective strain of gene drive mosquitoes, providing a powerful tool to reduce malaria transmission rates and save countless lives in Africa. His remarkable achievements serve as an inspiration to scientists and researchers worldwide, demonstrating the potential for transformative solutions to some of the world's most pressing health challenges.


Article by Nyokabi Wanjiku