The Sinkins Group

Research Overview

We study inherited symbionts of mosquitoes and use them to control mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue. 

Mosquito-borne diseases, including viruses such as dengue and Zika as well as malaria parasites, cause enormous suffering and mortality across the globe and are notoriously difficult to control. Symbiotic inherited microbes occur in mosquitoes that can block the transmission of these pathogens, and therefore provide novel disease control approaches. 

Current Research

Our primary aims are to better understand the interactions between inherited symbionts and their mosquito hosts, how symbionts mediate pathogen transmission blocking, and how this can be used in disease control.  The viruses studied include dengue and Zika, in the most important mosquito vector species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.  The generation of new Wolbachia-transinfected lines of these species and characterization of the effects on mosquito fitness and viral susceptibility are important components. We are also examining various native and non-native strains of Wolbachia in mosquito cell linesincluding factors that influence bacterial density (which often correlates with degree of virus-blocking), and the differing effects of Wolbachia strains on host cellular metabolic pathways that can impact on virus transmission.   

We have been collaborating with IMR Malaysia and University of Melbourne on open field releases in Malaysia of Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti that has successfully reduced the transmission of dengue virus. The programme is now being expanded by the Malaysian Ministry of Health, through WolBloc. The WolBloc programme consists of 7 partners located in the UK, South East Asia, South America, Africa and Australia with expertise ranging from mosquito biology and virus transmission blocking to the economics of disease control.  The WolBloc partners are examining ways to optimize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of wider roll-out of the Wolbachia biocontrol approach.

A collaboration with icipe Kenya centres on a newly-discovered Microsporidian symbiont of Anopheles mosquitoes that can block the transmission of malaria parasites. The aims of this project are to generate tools to better understand symbiont-mosquito interactions, and means to increase the frequency of the Microsporidian in mosquito populations, in order to develop a new malaria control approach. 

The ANTI-VeC international network draws together researchers engaged in developing and deploying transgenic and symbiont approaches for the control of insect disease vectors. It aims to foster knowledge exchange / technology sharing, and stimulate innovative collaborative research projects that will lay the foundation for new approaches or more effective implementation. 

ANTIVEC project logo


Research group members


Steven Sinkins
Principal Investigator

Thomas Ant

Thomas Ant
Research Associate

Profile pic of Abdelhakeem Adam

Abdelhakeem Adam       

Michelle Connolly headshot

Michelle Connolly
Network Manager

Daniella Lefteri
Research Associate

Julien Martinez

Julien Martinez
Research Associate

Cameron McNamara       
PhD Student

Shivan Murdochy

Shivan Murdochy
Insectary Manager

Stephanie Rainey

Stephanie Rainey
Research Associate‌

Profile picture of Beth Poulton

Beth Poulton
Research Assistant

Profile picture of Daniel Gingell

Daniel Gingell
PhD Student


Samihah Zura Binti Mohd Nani
PhD Student

Profile picture of Roland Pevsner

Roland Pevsner
Research Assistant

Profile picture of Deepak Kumar Parusothaman

Deepak Kumar Purusothaman
Research Assistant

Profile picture of Ewan Parry

 Ewan Parry
 Research Assistant



Grants and Collaborators

  • Institute for Medical Research, Ministry of Health Malaysia 
  • University of Melbourne, Australia 
  • International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya 
  • Institute de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante (IRSS), Burkina Faso 
  • KEMRI-Wellcome, Kenya 
  • SENEPA, Ministry of Health Paraguay 
  • Imperial College London, UK