CHICAGO (CBS) — Researchers at Indiana University are vying for a million-dollar grant for their work to come up with a more effective way to kill mosquitoes.

Inside a lab at IU School of Medicine, Dr. Molly Duman-Scheel has been killing mosquitoes by the thousands.

“In each of these cups, we have a different insecticide, so each different insecticide is against a different gene, and we’ll test and see which ones actually kill the mosquitoes in each cup,” she said.

Duman-Scheel, Associate Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics at the IU School of Medicine, and her team have been focusing on mosquitos at the larval stage.

“We are actually targeting them during their development, so before they reach adulthood when they could bite you and spread illnesses,” she said.

Mosquitoes kill more than a million people every year, primarily from diseases like malaria, dengue fever and chickungunya.

“There aren’t vaccines or very good drug therapy to treat these mosquito-borne illnesses, so the best thing to do right now is to actually try to target the mosquitoes,” Duman-Scheel said.

For one of her researchers, the work is personal. Dr. Keshav Mysore has a relative who has Chickungunya.

“I have seen him suffering from it for a long time,” he said.

WSBT reports the work has attracted a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and that could grow to $1 million if they show significant progress.