This technology facilitates the discovery and design of novel agents for either repelling or otherwise controlling insects that have important economic or medical significance. In particular, mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting a number of diseases, including malaria, West Nile, dengue and yellow fevers. The Zwiebel laboratory has identified human odorants and the protein receptors in mosquitoes that allow female mosquitoes to identify their hosts when they need blood to satisfy their reproductive needs. With funding from the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge in Global Health initiative, the Zwiebel laboratory, along with collaborators at Yale, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and researchers in Africa, developed biological and behavioral assays to screen and test numerous agents as potential repellants and attractants for the Anopholes gambiae mosquito.
These methods have been applied to include agricultural pests, disease vectors and nuisance insects (important for many tourist-based economies).