Monkey eyeing sampling platform

CREATE-NEO: Lee Gehrke, PhD

Lee_Gehrke_MITLee Gehrke is the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Professor in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at M.I.T., and Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gehrke received the PhD degree in anatomy and developmental genetics from the school of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and then did postdoctoral training in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology biology department with Professor Alexander Rich.


Research in the Gehrke lab focuses primarily on RNA viruses that have a positive sense genome. In positive sense RNA viruses, the genetic code is stored in RNA rather than the more familiar DNA, and the RNAs are ready to be translated into protein as soon as the virus infects and uncoats. Positive sense RNA viruses are thereby distinguished from negative sense viruses, which must enter cells and then convert their negative sense genomes into a positive strand for translation into protein. Comparatively, RNA viruses are more serious human health threats than DNA viruses.

Research projects in the Gehrke laboratory are in following areas:

  1. Developing improved models for studying infectious diseases by infecting embryonic stem (ES)- and induced pluripotent stem (iPS)-derived cells with BSL2 and BSL3 neurotropic flaviviruses, including Dengue, Zika, Powassan, Deer Tick, West Nile, and Japanese Encephalitis virus.
  2. Understanding coronavirus host-pathogen interactions by infecting primary lung and otic prosensory cells with SARS-CoV-2 in a BSL3 environment.
  3. Developing inexpensive rapid antigen tests to detect emerging viruses.

Dr. Gehrke's Lab website

CREATE-NEO members

The Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Disease (CREID) is a coordinated network with centers in regions around the globe where emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks are likely to occur. Multidisciplinary teams of investigators will conduct pathogen/host surveillance, study pathogen transmission, pathogenesis and immunologic responses in the host, and will develop reagents and diagnostic assays for improved detection for important emerging pathogens and their vectors.

NIAID launched the CREID Network in 2020.This website is run by CREATE-NEO, a member of the CREID Network independent of NIH/NIAID.