Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5410
- Ph.D., Molecular Biology University of Utah, 1986
- M.A., Botany University of Kansas, 1979
- B.S., Biology (Systematics and Ecology) University of Kansas, 1977
Dr. Hector Quemada is Principal Research Associate at Western Michigan University, working with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health on a project aimed at strengthening capacity of regulators in Africa, for regulating gene drive technologies. Prior to this, he was Director of the Biosafety Resource Network at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a project that provided regulatory and product development expertise for publicly funded transgenic crop development projects. Before joining the Danforth Center, he was the manager of the Biotechnology and Biodiversity Interface grant component of the Program for Biosafety Systems, a USAID project supporting research to generate data relevant to risk assessments of crops in developing countries. He was the founder of Crop Technology Consulting, Inc., a consulting firm conducting technical and biosafety assessment for biotechnology programs in developing countries, and developing regulatory approval dossiers for public and private crop development organizations. He has experience developing transgenic crop varieties for the private sector.
To date, applications of genetic engineering have been in agricultural or industrial settings, with domesticated populations of organisms. Gene drives are a new development in the field of genetic engineering, which provides opportunities to alter the genetic composition of natural populations. This ability will allow significant benefits to public health, through the control or modification of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes. It will also provide a novel means of controlling pests and invasive species, thus preserving agricultural productivity and biodiversity. Western Michigan University is a partner with the African Union Development Agency and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to strengthen the capacity of regulators in African countries to handle future applications of gene drive technology. These organisms fall under most countries' laws governing genetically engineered organisms, but the application of these laws and development of regulations will require a good understanding of the technology, its potential, and its risks.