The INOVEC project celebrates its first year of existence

Mar 14, 2024

2023 marked the inaugural year of the INOVEC project— a European initiative that builds on a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral consortium of 21 institutions spanning 12 different countries to enhance the surveillance and control of emerging arbovirus vectors.

In a climate change setting with the concomitant emergence of arboviral diseases, such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, the Horizon Europe funded INOVEC project aims to develop, streamline and promote integrated approaches and innovative tools for the surveillance and control of arbovirus vectors, especially Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus.

Coordinated by the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development – IRD (Principal Investigator: Vincent Corbel), INOVEC seeks to foster cross-sectoral, multidisciplinary and international collaborations to advance scientific and technical knowledge on the surveillance and control of invasive mosquitoes transmitting emerging arboviral diseases. INOVEC brings together 21 public and private sector institutions to stimulate research and knowledge transfer among European, African and South American countries where there is an escalated risk of arboviral disease emergence and spread. Scientific exchange is facilitated through exchanges of researchers, technicians and engineers in partner institutions to conduct joint research and training activities and ensure knowledge and/or technology transfers (to find out more about how a mobility project works, visit the MSCA Staff Exchanges page).

This inaugural year of the project featured exchanges of 13 staff members from 5 different institutions in partner institutions. This involved contributions to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes, supervision of students and postdoc researchers, the organization of workshops and seminars, as well as input in laboratory and field activities to generate scientific evidence and validate concepts/methods.

Explore highlights of INOVEC activities in 2023 below:

Organization of the 1st INOVEC Symposium on Research and Innovation for the Control of Vectors of Emerging Arboviruses, Montpellier (France)

INOVEC organized a symposium on 14 February to review the performances of new invasive vector control tools, identify gaps and promote collaborative research. The symposium also aimed to create a mutual vector-focused research culture to underpin the development of innovative vector control products. This event — involving three sessions and 22 presentations—generated interesting debate on the global impact of Aedes-borne diseases in Europe and beyond, alongside the presentation of new findings on integrated surveillance tools and technologies and community-based mosquito control approaches. Almost 100 participants from 11 countries attended the symposium, with a stream viewership of roughly 250 remote participants.

Researchers and technicians from the 21 INOVEC project partner institutions attending the kick-off meeting. Photo: INOVEC/IRD

Audience in the IRD auditorium during a presentation at the INOVEC Research and Innovation for the Control of Vectors of Emerging Arboviruses Symposium. Photo: INOVEC/IRD

A kick-off meeting of INOVEC members was held during the symposium to officially launch the project and activities.

Contribution at EU Health Security Committee Meeting

On 10 May, INOVEC Coordinator Vincent Corbel showcased the project at an EU Health Security Committee (HSC) meeting to raise awareness on the scope of INOVEC core activities and foster future collaboration among EU Member State representatives. The aim was also to facilitate information dissemination among partner countries and connections with stakeholders. Moreover, Jérémy Bouyer of the French development-oriented agricultural research centre (Cirad) provided an overview of ongoing sterile insect technique (SIT) trials in Europe, geared towards further enhancing collaborative efforts in combating Aedes-borne diseases.

Creation of Data Management & Communication Plans

In September, INOVEC launched its Data Management Plan (DMP), in compliance with EU data policies while strengthening its commitment to open science and FAIR data principles. Alongside its Data Exploitation, Dissemination, and Communication (EDC) Plan developed in June, INOVEC thus now has a clear blueprint for streamlining data use, implementing precise dissemination strategies and facilitating effective communication.

Organization of a Workshop on Testing Procedures for Monitoring Insecticide Resistance in mosquitoes, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

The Workshop on Testing Procedures for Monitoring Insecticide Resistance, co-organized with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), took place from 3 to 7 July in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) at the headquarters of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz). This event marked a significant INOVEC milestone, fostering knowledge sharing among researchers in Latin America. The workshop aimed to provide training and updates to 18 technicians from 8 countries on World Health Organization (WHO) test procedures for resistance monitoring in the Americas, while facilitating vector control decision-making processes at the regional level.

Workshop participants gathered on the stairs of Castelo Mourisco at Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro (right photo) and a participant testing a mosquito capture technique (left photo).

Workshop on social science applied to vector control, Blanes (Spain)

Participants in a workshop focused on social science applications in vector control held in Blanes (Spain).

On 17 October, INOVEC researchers were hosted by IRIDEON to organize, jointly with the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), a workshop at the Blanes Centre for Advanced Studies (CEAB) on social science applications in vector control. The workshop aimed to enhance mosquito-borne disease surveillance in endemic areas, with emphasis on participatory science techniques and app-driven solutions. Discussions focused on the suitability and implementation of mobile apps for monitoring vector-borne diseases in endemic countries, while providing training on Aedes mosquito surveillance using apps like Mosquito Alert, with plans for its rollout in Burkina Faso and Tanzania.

Scientific Publications

In October, FIOCRUZ and IRD jointly published an article entitled « Genetic structure and kdr mutations in Aedes aegypti populations along a road crossing the Amazon Forest in Amapá State, Brazil » in the Scientific Reports journal. This collaborative research generated fresh insight into the genetic structure and insecticide resistance status of Aedes aegypti in Amapá State (Brazil) bordering French Guyana, including the discovery of new kdr haplotypes. The paper stresses the need to boost resistance surveillance in dengue virus vectors, especially in transborder areas, and to gain further insight into the causes of emergence and spread. We congratulate the authors: Barbara S. Souza, Leticia F. Lima, Allan K. R. Galardo, Vincent Corbel, Jose Bento P. Lima and Ademir J. Martins.

Two additional scientific articles, co-authored by scientists from IRD and UNESP, focusing on the physical properties and efficacy of terpenoid-based nanoformulated biopesticides for mosquito control, have been recently published. One article was featured in the Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, titled « Development and characterization of potential larvicidal nanoemulsions against Aedes aegypti ». The other one, « Larvicidal properties of terpenoid-based nanoemulsions against the dengue vector Aedes aegypti L. and their potential toxicity against non-target organisms », was published in PLOS ONE.

Preview of the publication in Scientific Reports.

Presence on Communication Platforms

The INOVEC website, launched in October, serves as a hub for project information, including objectives, work packages, partner institutions, governance structure, European funding, values and visions. It will provide newsletters, project updates, and document sharing via an intranet platform over the 4-year project cycle. INOVEC is also active on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, keeping researchers, students, professionals, public health officers, and stakeholders informed about project initiatives and outcomes.

1st External Advisory Board meeting

In November, INOVEC convened its first External Advisory Board (EAB), including six independent experts with outstanding knowledge on vector-borne diseases and their control. The EAB provides an independent assessment of the consortium operations, development, achievements and governance. The Board also aims to assist the Coordinator in identifying new partnerships, facilitate knowledge sharing and dissemination to accelerate access to high-quality vector control products.


Members of the External Advisory Board (EAB)

Lina Pinto-García (chair of the EAB) is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the crossroads of medical anthropology and science and technology studies (STS). Her work over the past decade has focused on the relationship between health deterioration and armed violence in Latin America. She is currently a research affiliate at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford (UK), and a postdoctoral researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Development Studies, Universidad de los Andes (Colombia).

Mathias Mondy is the IVCC Director of Portfolio, Project Management and Strategy. IVCC is a non-for-profit Product Development Partnership (PDP) based in Liverpool (UK), dedicated to the development of vector control solutions. Mathias joined IVCC in 2014 after 17 years in the industry (Rhône Poulenc, Aventis Environmental Science, Bayer Environmental Science). IVCC focuses on preventing malaria transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa with the conviction that developed products will benefit people in other geographical areas and support the global fight against other vector-borne diseases.

Josiane Etang is Professor of Medical Entomology at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences (FMPS) of the University of Douala (Cameroon). Her professional career beyond academic circles includes vector control strategic planning, as Principal Expert at the Organization for Coordination in the Fight Against Endemic Diseases in Central Africa (OCEAC), Yaounde (Cameroon), since 2007. She has extensive international experience in vector-borne diseases and mosquito control consulting and advisory work through a diverse range of scientific networks in Africa and worldwide. Her research interests involve the development of high throughput methods for insecticide testing, and the genetic of vector resistance to insecticides.

Francis Schaffner ​is a French medical and veterinary entomologist, focusing primarily on mosquitoes, but also on biting midges, sand flies, and biting flies. He devoted the first part of his career to sustainable mosquito control and mosquito taxonomy in France, first in Alsace and subsequently in the Mediterranean coastal region. From 2007 to 2013, he developed research on insect vectors at the Institute of Parasitology of the University of Zurich (Switzerland). He is still an Associate Researcher at this Institute. Since 2016, Francis has been working as a freelance consultant, mainly supporting international bodies (ECDC, EFSA, WHO) and national authorities in the development of networking and capacity building (e.g. VectorNet), while performing needs assessments and designing risk management plans for vector-borne diseases.

Fanny Momboisse (Pasteur Institute) belongs to the Pasteur Institute, Paris and has a PhD in Cell Biology, an MSc in Medical Ethics and Bioethics (obtained in 2018), alongside 10 years of basic science research. After 2 years as an Institutional Review Board analyst, she is currently a senior Research Ethics Advisor with expertise in research involving humans, infored consent process, and dual-use risk issues. In 2022, she was granted a Research Ethics Expert appointment by the European Commission. She was appointed as the Ethics Advisor of the INOVEC project in April 2023 to provide assistance to the coordinator and ensure ethical integrity of research activities.

The nomination of the last member, Raman Velayudhan from WHO-NTD, is pending.

INOVEC participation in the Asia Pacific Conference on Mosquito and Vector Control (AMV), Chiang Mai (Thailand)

From 27 to 30 November, the IRD researcher Anne Poinsignon participated in the AMV Conference in Chiang Mai (Thailand). This conference aimed to strengthen the Asia-Pacific regional mosquito and vector control capacity and network, and review new technologies and approaches to address the rapidly changing mosquito control scene in the region. This event provided an ideal opportunity to present the INOVEC project (see Fig. 1) and establish new links with Southeast Asian research partners.

An informative poster presented by Anne Poinsignon (IRD) showcases the INOVEC consortium with its diverse range of activities and initiatives.

The 1st Annual General Assembly

On 5 December, an Annual General Assembly attended by consortium representatives from each member institution was held to wrap up the first year of the project. Partners comprehensively reviewed of the progress and achievements of the project regarding staff exchanges, deliverables and milestones. Collective discussions also addressed the prospects and challenges related to the scientific engagement and activities, gender equity, carbon emissions, while defining the strategic project orientation for 2024.

Gridview screenshot during the virtual INOVEC 2023 Annual General Assembly. This online meeting fostered maximum participation, in compliance with Europe’s MSCA Green Charter recommendations.