top of page



Academic Appointments: Lee 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 Ph.D. 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: Prof. Gehrke's research career has focused on host-pathogen interactions in positive sense single stranded RNA viruses, as well as the design and construction of rapid point of care diagnostic devices to detect emerging  viruses.


The lab is using cerebral organoids derived from human embryonic stem cells to study infections by Zika viruses, Powassan virus, Deer Tick Virus, and Toscana viruses.  The host responses are analyzed by confocal imaging, cytokine production, biochemical assays (viability, apoptosis protein expression), RNAseq, and single cell RNAseq. In the Zika work, we have found that in side-by-side organoid infections, the African Zika strains are much more pathogenic than the American strains.  Through the assays listed above, we seek to understand how these very closely related viruses cause such different pathogenesis. 


Collaborative work with engineers and materials scientists led to the development of rapid diagnostics to detect and distinguish the four dengue serotypes, as well as Zika virus and Chikungunya virus.  This work has required new reagents, including monoclonal antibodies directed against Dengue Virus and Zika virus NS1 protein antigens. The diagnostics work has taken lab members to Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, and India, where we have developed strong collaborations and relationships with scientists and clinicians. 

Personal: Lee is a native midwesterner, having been raised on a corn and soybeans farm--that is still owned by the family-- in northern Illinois.  Lee has two adult children and four grandchildren.

bottom of page