DeGennaro is a neurogeneticist with 20 years of experience in biomedical research. Throughout his scientific career, he has used molecular genetics to address biological questions. His graduate training at NYU Medical Center was with Ruth Lehmann, one of the founders of developmental genetics, who has made fundamental contributions to the fields of germ cell and RNA biology. His postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University was with Leslie Vosshall, a leader in the field of olfaction who initially identified insect olfactory receptors and determined their unique mechanism of action. During his post-doc, he created the first mosquito mutant using zinc-finger nucleases to initiate the molecular genetic analysis of olfactory receptor function in Aedes aegypti. His work revealed new knowledge about the integration of host cues, mosquito host-preference, mosquito nectar-seeking and the mechanism of DEET repellency. His current goal is to identify olfactory receptors that mosquitoes use to sense their human and plant hosts. These genes will provide molecular targets that can be used to screen for new chemicals to modify mosquito behavior.
- Understanding how mosquitoes sense their human and plant hosts is required for the development of new tools to control harmful mosquito behaviors.
- Using a molecular genetic approach, we seek to identify the odors and olfactory receptors that are necessary for mosquito host detection.
His results have appeared in a number of peer-review publications including Nature, Developmental Cell, Current Biology, PLOS Genetics, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.