The Smithsonian aims to advance knowledge to protect all aspects of the health of humans, plants, animals, and their shared environment. This includes the study and prevention of infectious and non-communicable diseases, as well as ecological and environmental degradations impacting the health of living organisms.
The Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit is a unique national resource—a partnership between the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The collaboration focuses on identifying key arthropods like mosquitoes and ticks and understanding their role in disease transmission, using both traditional taxonomy and modern genetics. The U.S. National Mosquito Collection is the world’s largest taxonomically and geographically comprehensive collection of over 1.7 million specimens.
This effort is showcased in the Mosquito Barcoding Initiative, which has compiled DNA data from over 70,000 individuals across 1,400 species, accessible through the Barcode of Life Database.
To address the global health risk associated with mosquito-born illness, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and educators from the Smithsonian Science Education Center collaborated to create a free educational module—Mosquito!—available via the Smithsonian Learning Lab.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open-access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives.
BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.”