Prof. Alon Warburg

Professor of Vector Biology , Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, IMRIC
IMRIC Researcher

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Why I became a researcher: 

As a child I loved animals and was especially fascinated by insects. So when I reached university, I decided to study entomology. Today I devote my time to studying the ecology of small blood-sucking sand flies that transmit leishmaniasis. In Israel, most of our leishmaniasis is cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is not usually life-threatening. However, in Ethiopia where we have been working since 2009, visceral leishmaniasis affects some 5,000 persons every year and many of those affected, die as a result. We are performing ecological and epidemiological studies designed to determine the most feasible approaches for curtailing transmission of visceral leishmaniasis in the rural East African setting.

As well as our work in Africa, we have similar problems that my team is dealing with in the Middle East. Leishmaniasis is emerging as a significant public health problem in Northern Israel, the Judean desert and parts of the West Bank. In fact US Army soldiers stationed in Iraq and other endemic countries are experiencing increased morbidity brought on by leishmaniasis. To this end we have conducted research at our IMRIC labs that show leishmaniasis in caused by leishmania tropica, transmitted by sand flies found in the Galilee and the Judean deserts. Due to these findings we have embarked on a major project funded by the U.S. Army to develop effective and environmentally-sound methods for controlling sand flies in military installations and civilian settlements. Our initial results proved efficacious in reducing the numbers of sand flies inside rooms and tents.


1983-1986: Ph.D., Vector Biology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1981-1983: M.Sc., Vector Biology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1978: B.Sc., Biology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Selected Awards and Honors: 
2010: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant for research on the Biology and Control of Sand Fly Vector of Leishmaniasis
alonw [at] ekmd [dot] huji [dot] ac [dot] il
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