Lee Gehrke

Core Faculty
Phone: (617) 253-7608
Website: Gehrke Lab
Lab Phone: (617) 253-7699
room: E25-406B
MIT address: 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Administrative Assistant: Michelle Antunes
assistant phone: (617) 258-0866
assistant email: mantunes@mit.edu

Lee Gehrke

Core Faculty


  • Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School


Lee Gehrke is the Hermann von Helmholtz Professor in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gehrke received his PhD degree in anatomy and developmental genetics from the school of medicine at Case Western Reserve University and then did postdoctoral training in the Biology Department at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a member of the MIT and Harvard faculties since 1982.  Professor Gehrke’s primary teaching responsibility is directing course HT-010, Functional Human Anatomy, which is part of the core HST MD curriculum.


  • PhD in Anatomy and Developmental Genetics, Case Western Reserve University, 1980
  • MA (Honorary) Harvard University
  • BS in Zoology, Eastern Illinois University

selected awards/societies

  • American Society for Virology
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows Class of 2021


Professor Gehrke’s research interests center on molecular aspects of host-pathogen interactions and on the pathogenesis of RNA viruses.  Current experimental work focuses on understanding how viruses that are closely related in genetic sequence cause highly variable disease outcomes.  Examples include Zika virus, which is correlated with birth defects including microcephaly, and dengue virus, which is in most cases a self-limited disease that does not cause congenital abnormalities. Cerebral organoids grown from NIH-registered human embryonic stem cells or human induced pluripotent stems cells closely mimic the human brain and serve as models for defining virus tropisms (which cells are infected) and subsequent effects on cell growth or cell death.  Collaborative work with other IMES faculty permits three-dimensional imaging of virus infections, and single cell sequence analysis distinguishes transcriptional profiles in infected and uninfected cells.

selected publications

  • Antonucci J, Gehrke L. Cerebral Organoid Models for Neurotropic Viruses [Internet]. ACS Infectious Diseases. 2019. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00339
  • Li Y, Muffat J, Javed AO, Keys HR, Lungjangwa T, Bosch I, Khan M, Virgilio MC, Gehrke L, Sabatini DM, Jaenisch R. Genome-wide CRISPR screen for Zika virus resistance in human neural cells [Internet]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019. p. 201900867. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900867116
  • Bosch I, de Puig H, Hiley M, Carré-Camps M, Perdomo-Celis F, Narváez CF, Salgado DM, Senthoor D (…other authors), de Bosch N, Tam J, Gómez-Márquez J, Clavet C, Villar L, Hamad-Schifferli K, Gehrke L. Rapid antigen tests for dengue virus serotypes and Zika virus in patient serum. Sci Transl Med [Internet]. 2017 Sep 27;9(409). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aan1589 PMID: 28954927
  • Myhrvold C, Freije CA, Gootenberg JS, Abudayyeh OO, Metsky HC, Durbin AF, Kellner MJ, Tan AL, Paul LM, Parham LA, Garcia KF, Barnes KG, Chak B, Mondini A, Nogueira ML, Isern S, Michael SF, Lorenzana I, Yozwiak NL, MacInnis BL, Bosch I, Gehrke L, Zhang F, Sabeti PC. Field-deployable viral diagnostics using CRISPR-Cas13. Science [Internet]. 2018 Apr 27;360(6387):444–448. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aas8836

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS):

Genome-wide CRISPR screen for Zika virus resistance in human neural cells

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a neurotropic and neurovirulent arbovirus that has severe detrimental impact on the developing human fetal brain. We used a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 knockout screen to identify ZIKV host genes in human neural progenitors. The screen identified host factors involved in heparan sulfation, endocytosis, endoplasmic reticulum processing, Golgi function, and interferon activity. Our findings provide insights into host-dependent mechanisms for ZIKV infection in the highly vulnerable human neural progenitor cells and identify molecular targets for potential therapeutic intervention.

May 7th(199 kB)

A full list of Professor Gehrke’s publications can be found on NCBI.

courses taught

  • HST 010 – Med. Sci. 250 a, b – Human Functional Anatomy (Harvard Medical School)
  • HST 426 – Medical Maker Lab (MIT)