The mission of the Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases is to enhance the capacity to anticipate, prevent, and control vector-borne diseases (VBD). Our team is comprised of recognized experts in vector-borne diseases, vector biology and control, epidemiology, and ecology, and is boosted by strong partnerships with state and local public health organizations. As evidenced by the recent arrival of Zika virus, the United States is not adequately prepared to accurately anticipate, prepare for, and respond to emerging VBD. This is a consequence of multiple elements, such as an incomplete understanding of the factors that regulate VBD emergence, importation, and establishment, inconsistent and imprecise methods for vector and VBD surveillance, diminished surveillance capacity due to a chronic lack of investment in new generations of public health scientists, and increasing vector control challenges due to insecticide resistance and intrinsic difficulties related to the ecology and behavior of critical species, especially Aedes aegypti.
We will make significant inroads in solving these critical public health problems through an innovative combination of Center activities designed to: 1) improve the prediction of VBD emergence through enhanced modeling informed by more accurate, efficient, and reliable surveillance; 2) enhance the capabilities and tools of local- and state-level public health agencies through training and the implementation of improved surveillance and control methodologies; and 3) educate a new generation of public health-oriented vector biologists with broad expertise from basic science to applied entomology to span the academic and government scientific communities and drive innovation for decades to come. Our approach will develop new and long-lasting partnerships with academia and public health teams in the region so that, collectively, we can make significant strides in the control of VBD.