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 positive sense single stranded RNA viruses. His interests are in flaviviruses, hemorrhagic fever viruses, translation-level regulation of gene expression, the design and construction of rapid point of care diagnostic devices to detect hemorrhagic fever viruses, and the use of human stem cells and organoids to study flavivirus infections. 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 the development of reagents, including monoclonal antibodies directed against Dengue Virus and Zika virus antigens. The viral pathogenesis and 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. The interactions with scientists in Central and South America gives the group a broader perspective of both the scientific and societal problems that are related to virus infections in endemic areas. Prof. Gehrke is the principal investigator on a three-lab U19 award that is directed at developing two-dimensional and three-dimensional models of human infectious diseases. This work centers on using isogenic stem-cell derived neuronal cells and organoids, infected by multiple Zika virus strain as well as cytomegalovirus, to probe mechanisms of viral microcephaly.
Teaching: As a graduate student, Prof. Gehrke studied developmental biology in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Genetics at Case Western Reserve University. During that training, he learned human gross anatomy and participated in teaching medical and dental students. Currently, Prof. Gehrke is the course director for course HT.010 (Med. Sci. 250a,b), which is the human gross anatomy course required for medical students in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program, also referred to as the Irving M. London Society. Prof. Gehrke also gives lectures in his virology research area to courses in the MIT Biology Department and the Harvard Medical School Graduate Program in Virology.
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. He is married to Deb Gehrke, a watercolorist with whom he shares duties as Faculty Dean of Quincy House at Harvard College. They have two adult children–Lindsay, who is an intensive special needs educator living in Newton MA, and Andrew, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Lee and Deb enjoy spending time on Cape Cod with their children and three grandchildren.