Lee Gehrke, Hermann L. F. von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, MIT, and a member of the core faculty at the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), has been named to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. Gehrke, who is also a professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), focuses his research on molecular aspects of host-pathogen interactions and on the pathogenesis of RNA viruses. His current experimental work focuses on understanding how viruses that are closely related in genetic sequence cause highly variable disease outcomes.
Gehrke is a cofounder of E25Bio, a biotech startup that is trying to develop “inexpensive, accurate, easy-to-use diagnostics” for viruses, according to a story in MIT Technology Review. The company is awaiting FDA authorization for its covid-19 test, which can be mass-produced, requires no sample processing, and gives a readout within 15 minutes. (E25Bio is supported by The Engine, MIT’s venture fund for “tough tech” startups.)
E25Bio grew out of work done in Gehrke’s lab by Irene Bosch, a Broad Institute researcher who joined Gehrke’s lab as a research scientist in 2009 and is the company’s CTO. Their aim was to develop rapid tests for mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika and dengue fever, where an early diagnosis can be critical.
“Recognition from AIMBE is a great honor, not only for myself, but also for the many students and postdoctoral fellows who have contributed to the work produced by my laboratory,” Gehrke says. “It’s also a testament to IMES/HST for creating an environment that really does bring scientists and engineers together to solve problems in human health.”
Gehrke says that his lab’s current research uses self-assembled three dimensional human tissue cultures called organoids to define the types of cells that are infected by viruses, how the host cell responds to infection, and how the virus causes pathogenesis.
Gehrke was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers, and members of the College of Fellows, for outstanding contributions toward developing low cost rapid diagnostic tests to detect pathogenic viruses in low resource areas.
The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. The most accomplished and distinguished engineering and medical school chairs, research directors, professors, innovators, and successful entrepreneurs comprise the College of Fellows. AIMBE Fellows are regularly recognized for their contributions in teaching, research, and innovation. AIMBE Fellows have been awarded the Nobel Prize, the Presidential Medal of Science and the Presidential Medal of Technology and Innovation and many also are members of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. Gehrke is also a member of the American Society for Virology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Gehrke joins other IMES faculty members who have received the honor, including Daniel Anderson (2011), Sangeeta Bhatia (2006), Emery Brown (2006), Peter Szolovits (2006), Laurence Young (2006), Elazer Edelman (2001), Richard Cohen (2000), Martha Gray (1999), Roger Mark (1993) and Robert Langer (1992).
A formal induction ceremony will be held during AIMBE’s 2021 Annual Event on March 26. Gehrke will be inducted along with 174 colleagues who make up the AIMBE Fellow Class of 2021. For more information about the AIMBE Annual Event, please visit www.aimbe.org.