Anthony A. James, ESA Fellow (2011)

Dr. Anthony A. James, a distinguished professor of microbiology & molecular genetics (School of Medicine) and molecular biology & biochemistry (School of Biological Sciences) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), was elected as Fellow in 2011. He is recognized for his contributions to molecular biological investigations of mosquitoes and the development of genetic approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases.

James was born in Ypsilanti, MI on 16 November 1951, and moved with his family to Southern California in 1956.  He received both his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from UCI in 1973 and 1979, respectively.  He held postdoctoral fellowships at the Harvard Medical School (1979–1983) and Brandeis University (1983–1985). He was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Tropical Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1985 and moved from there to UCI in 1989. He was promoted to full professor in 1998 and distinguished professor in 2007.

James researches vector-parasite interactions, mosquito molecular biology, and practical approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases. He emphasizes the use of genetic and molecular-genetic tools to develop synthetic approaches to interrupting pathogen transmission by mosquitoes. His research group developed routine transgenesis procedures for mosquitoes, and they have been able to engineer genes that interfere with malaria parasite development in mosquitoes. He collaborates with other researchers to develop RNAi-mediated approaches to prevent dengue virus transmission and an Aedes aegypti population-suppression strain based on flightless females. He also is using bioinformatics to study the evolution of control DNA in regulating the genes involved in hematophagy.

Dr. James has a strong interest in what it takes to move science from the laboratory to the field. He is the principal investigator on multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and, in 2005, received an award from the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative to develop genetic strategies for control of dengue virus transmission. His research received support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to being elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, he received numerous other awards, including ESA’s Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology (2009), was a co-recipient of the Premio de Investgación Médica Dr. Jorge Rosenkranz (2008), a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome New Initiatives in Malaria Award (2000), and the Burroughs Wellcome Scholar Award in Molecular Parasitology (1994). He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994) and a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London (1992).  He was a founding editor of the journal Insect Molecular Biology, and has served on the editorial boards of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Experimental Parasitology, and Entomological Research.

In 2009, he was awarded the UCI Medal, the highest honor the university bestows on an individual who has made exceptional contributions its vision, mission, and spirit. He has published over 140 papers, reviews, and policy documents, and has provided guidance to 34 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows

(updated June, 2012)