Welcome to Molecular Vector Physiology Laboratory at New Mexico State University.




Dr. rer. Nat.

Immo Alex Hansen

The Hansen lab does cutting-edge applied- and basic research in molecular biology, molecular cellular physiology, and cell biology of disease-transmitting mosquitoes. We use the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and the West-Nile-Virus mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus as models for in our research.

We are primarily interested in the molecular mechanisms by which cells and tissues sense nutrients and in response activate signal transduction pathways which regulate expression and/or deactivation of mosquito genes. A second focus of the Hansen lab is on the regulation of water homeostasis in mosquitoes. We also have multiple ongoing successful collaborations with other groups in physiology, entomology, vector biology, physics, computer science, on and off-campus on related topics including sterile insect technique.

The lab in the local news...








Why we study mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are vectors for some of the most devastating diseases known to humanity since its early history. During the 1950s and 1960s mosquito-borne diseases were thought to have been brought under control through reduction of mosquito populations by large-scale vector control programs and anti malarial drugs. However, a resurgence of the diseases began during the late 1970s and continues to this day due to a complex array of factors such as mosquito pesticide resistance, lack of effective vaccines, parasite resistance to drugs, and political mismanagement. 
Today, malaria alone affects 200 to 300 Million people, every year and claims the lives of one to three million humans, especially young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that there are worldwide more than 100 million cases of Dengue Fever every year along with several hundreds of thousand cases of the more severe form Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. Dengue viruses are transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. Today, Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans with a global distribution comparable with malaria.

Another example that demonstrates the deadly potential of newly-emerging mosquito-transmitted diseases is the rapid spread of West Nile Virus across the continental US. 
The reproductive biology of mosquitoes is tightly linked to their ability to transmit disease pathogens due to the fact that mosquitoes need blood for egg production. Therefore, a detailed understanding of reproductive processes on a molecular level is indispensable in order to identify new ways to disrupt the process of disease transmission. Illumination of the molecular biology underlying mosquito reproduction will pave the way for the development of novel vector control strategies with the ultimate goal of eradicating mosquito-transmitted diseases. 


Plasmodium gallinaceum in chicken blood - we currently use an avian malaria model system for our research.

Small mosquitoes - big implications

Well-nourished vs. malnourished Aedes aegypti females. The scale bars represent 1 mm. The size of adult female mosquitoes depends on the conditions they encountered during the aquatic larval phase. Other physiological differences and vectorial capacity between small and large mosquitoes are investigated in the Hansen lab.


Aedes aegypti the Yellow Fever Mosquito - principal vector of Dengue fever, the most important Arbovirus of our time (photo by Geoff Attardo).

Nutrients signaling in the fat body

Nutritional- and growth factor signaling converge at the target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase. AA - amino acids; ALS - acid labile subunit; ILP - insulin/insulin-like peptide; PTEN - tensin; RHEB - ras homologue enriched in brain;TSC - tuberous sclerosis complex. We are researching amino acid transporters and their involvement in this cascade.


Nutritional and hormonal control of YPP synthesis in anautogenous mosquitoes; based on a figure published by Hansen and Attardo; BB- blood bolus, OEH- ovarian ecdysiotropic hormone, E- Ecdysone




Current Lab Members: _______________________________________


Immo A. Hansen, Ph.D.

"The overarching focus of my lab is on finding new ways to control vector-borne diseases."



Hitoshi Tsujimoto, Ph.D.

"I am working on cationic amino acid transporters (CATs) in Aedes aegypti. I am also working on elucidating interactions of genes in mosquito fat body that may be used to determine the signaling involving the CAT and many more."



Lisa Drake

Lisa Drake, M.S.

" I am interested in aquaporins (AQPs), a family of membrane transporters that regulate the flow of water and other small molecules across cellular membranes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and that are important players in the mosquito excretion system. I aim to recognize transport capabilities of AQPs regarding substrate specificity to both water and other solutes. "



David Price

David Price, M.S.





Kristina Gonzales





Hannah Drumm


Stacy Rodriguez, M.S.





Florence Schoderbek

"I am a HHMI Research Scholar in the lab, who is working on an RNA interference experiment with channels related to mosquito diuresis. I am interested in pursuing research in graduate school, and medicine. "


Chelsea Rodriguez



Former Lab Members:



Sarah Aguirre

B. S.


Vicotoria Carpenter



Allison Banegas




The Hansen lab is currently accepting applications from graduate students as well as motivated undergraduates that want to work with us.

A message for prospective students

For Graduate Students:

I am looking for potential Graduate students who understand my research interests, have read my publications, and have their own ideas as to where my research efforts should be directed. Individuals applying to my laboratory do not have to be experts at the molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics techniques that we utilize day to day, but they must understand the theory behind them and their application. These individuals must also work well with a diverse group of young scientists and work extremely hard to finish their NMSU research education.

All graduate students are required to complete and submit an internationally recognized Journal article before graduation from my laboratory!

A Masters thesis should generate at least one first author publication.

A Ph.D. thesis should generate at least two first author publications.



Graduate students can apply to work in my laboratory through the Biology Department, or through the NMSU Graduate Program in Molecular Biology.

I insist that you contact me directly (phone or via e-mail) while applying!

All students: When you contact me please add a statement (approximately one page) on your scientific interests and why you want to work in my lab. This is your chance to show me the level of your interest in my research and demonstrate some creative thinking (copying and pasting from this homepage won't help you).


For Undergraduate Students:

I encourage all NMSU undergraduates (with GPA 3.5 or higher) to get "hands on" training in the sciences.

An undergraduate project tends to be part of a larger whole, but I make sure to include credit for their work in presentations and publications.

How far you go in my laboratory depends solely on your individual work ethic and leadership.


Recent publications

- Cho, S.Y., Briscoe, J.L. ; Hansen, I.A. ; Smith, J.K. ; Yoomi Chang ; Brener, I. 2013 Label-free plasmonic immunosensing for plasmodium in whole blood. Sensors, 2013 IEEE


click here  

- Rodriguez SD, Brar RK, Drake LL, Drumm HE, Price DP, Hammond JI, Urquidi J, Hansen IA. 2013 The effect of the radio-protective agents ethanol, trimethylglycine, and beer on survival of X-ray-sterilized male Aedes aegypti.Parasit Vectors. 2013 Jul 18;6:211.


click here PDF

- Drake LL, Price DP, Aguirre SE, Hansen IA. 2012. RNAi-mediated Gene Knockdown and In Vivo Diuresis Assay in Adult Female Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes. JoVE. Jul 14;(65):e3479.


click here

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- Hansen IA, Dawe AL, and Bailey CD. 2012 Hands-on Molecular Biology Research in the Undergraduate Curriculum. Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching
Proceedings of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education Vol. 33, 265-276


click here PDF

- Carpenter, VK.; Drake, LL.; Aguirre, SE; Price, DP; Rodriguez, SD; Hansen, IA, 2012. SLC7 amino acid transporters of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and their role in fat body TOR signaling and reproduction. J Insect Physiol. 2012 Apr; 58 (4): 513-22.


click here PDF

- Price DP, Nagarajan V, Churbanov A, Houde P, Milligan B, Drake LL, Gustafson JE, Hansen IA. The fat body transcriptomes of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, pre- and post- blood meal. PLoS One. 2011;6 (7):e22573.


click here PDF

- Drake LL, Boudko DY, Marinotti O, Carpenter VK, Dawe AL, Hansen IA. 2010 The Aquaporin gene family of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. PLoS One. 5(12):e15578.


click here PDF

- Hansen IA, Boudko DY, Shiao SH, Voronov DA, Meleshkevitch EA, Drake LL, Aguirre SE, Fox J, Attardo GM, Raikhel AS. 2011. AaCAT1 of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti: A novel histidine-specific Amino Acid Transporter from the SLC7 family. J Biol Chem. 286, 10803-13.


click here FULL TEXT






I teach the following classes on a regular basis:

BIOL 211 Cell and Organismal Biology Syllabus

BIOL 302 Molecular Methods Syllabus

BIOL 436/536 Vector Biology Syllabus



  We are excited to collaborate with truely outstanding scientists on various projects (in alphabetical order):        


Geoffrey Attardo, Ph.D.; Yale School of Public Health;Project: Tsetse genome annotation


Joshua Benoit, Ph.D., Yale School of Public Health; Project: Tsetse aquaporins



Dmitri Boudko, Ph.D., Rosalind Franklin University, Project: Mosquito amino acid transporters



Sang-Yeon Cho, Ph.D.; NMSU School of Electrical Engeneering; Project: Nanosensors for pathogen detection



Kathryn Hanley, Ph.D., NMSU Biology Department; Project; Mosquito pathogen susceptibility



Peter Piermarini, Ph.D., Ohio State University; Project: Malpighian tubule molecular biology



Alvaro Romero, Ph.D.; NMSU Entomology; Project: bedbug transcriptomics



Jacob Urquidi, Ph.D., NMSU Physics Department; Project: Mosquito SIT

  Funding for our research comes from: