Eva Harris

Research Expertise and Interest

public health, infectious diseases

Research Description

Research interests include: molecular virology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of dengue, scientific capacity building in developing countries.

In the News

New Inhaled COVID-19 Therapeutic Blocks Viral Replication in the Lungs

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created a new COVID-19 therapeutic that could one day make treating SARS-CoV-2 infections as easy as using a nasal spray for allergies. In a new study published online in the journal Nature Communications, the team shows that these short snippets, called antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), are highly effective at preventing the virus from replicating in human cells. When administered in the nose, these ASOs are also effective at preventing and treating COVID-19 infection in mice and hamsters.

Coronavirus: science and solutions

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities around the world, researchers at UC Berkeley are racing to find solutions that will both secure our health and help get the economy back on its feet.

Blood tests reveal broad extent of Zika infection

A new study shows that nearly half of the population of Managua, Nicaragua, has been infected with the Zika virus. Previous infection with the Zika virus imparts immunity to the disease and can help quell future outbreaks.

Study details how dengue infection hits harder second time around

One of the most vexing challenges in the battle against dengue virus, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne virus, is that getting infected once can put people at greater risk for a more severe infection down the road. A new study with UC Berkeley researchers details how the interaction between a person’s immune response and a subsequent dengue infection could mean the difference between getting a mild fever and going into a fatal circulatory failure.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
July 28, 2020
Diana Kwon
A profile of UC Berkeley professor of public health, Eva Harris, who has spent her career doing groundbreaking research on mosquito-transmitted dengue and building a scientific infrastructure in Latin America.
May 18, 2020
Max Brimelow, Julie Chang, Pedro Cota, Alex Matthews and Kristen Hwang
In the latest New York Times dispatch about the COVID-19 experience in California by students at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, Max Brimelow, Julie Chang, Pedro Cota, Kristen Hwang and Alex Matthews write about new COVID-19 testing initiatives "led by health experts at California's top public and private universities," including a couple of Berkeley projects. They write: "The university health experts leading these efforts said they acted to fill a void. Eva Harris, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, said that watching the virus spread around the world while bickering government leaders hesitated to act was like witnessing the Titanic speeding toward the iceberg. 'We finally just said, "OK, it hit," and still nothing happened, so we need to get involved,' she said. ... One of the most aggressive efforts currently underway to examine the extent of infection in homeless encampments is being led by the Innovative Genomics Institute, a biochemistry lab at the University of California, Berkeley, best known for its work at the forefront of the CRISPR gene-editing process, and Lifelong Medical Care, a community health center also based in Berkeley. The two have begun expanding testing to low-income and homeless populations in Alameda County. ... 'If we can't help the vulnerable, what are we doing?' asked Fyodor Urnov, the institute's scientific director for technology and translation. Not far from Dr. Urnov's office on the Berkeley campus, two professors in the School of Public Health have teamed up for a different kind of study. Dr. Harris, the infectious disease expert, and Lisa Barcellos, a genetic epidemiologist, are investigating the infection's spread throughout the Bay Area. ... They are testing thousands of residents to look for the presence of active Covid-19 virus as well as antibodies in the blood. This could reveal patients who were exposed but never showed symptoms, and it could also shed light on how widespread the disease truly is in California."
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May 8, 2020
Jana Katsuyama
Dr. Eva Harris, a public health professor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccinology and Dr. Lisa Barcellos, a public health professor specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics, are co-leading an extensive study of the Bay Area's exposure to the virus to see how widespread it has been and for how long. On this program, they discuss their strategy, which includes a mailed questionnaire, followed up with testing. Dr. Harris says they've mailed 307,000 invitations to participate in the study to "every single home, every household in the census track in 11 cities." Dr. Barcellos says: "We're asking all about current symptoms, past symptoms and going back as far as December. We're asking about travel histories. We're asking about who's in the household and what they've been exposed to." From the respondents, 5,000 to 6,000 will be selected randomly to participate in the testing phase. "The in-home collection kits include all the materials that someone needs to collect saliva, as well as an oral and nasal swab," Dr. Barcellos says. "It's really very straightforward and doesn't hurt at all," Dr. Harris adds. Link to video. Read more about the study at Berkeley's School of Public Health.
April 29, 2020
Catherine Offord
As jurisdictions plan reopening while COVID-19 still presents a threat, antibody testing to see the extent of exposure and possible immunity will be critical, but studies can and have been found to be flawed, so it's important to get the testing right. Dr. Eva Harris, a public health professor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccinology, is co-leading an extensive study of the Bay Area's exposure to the virus over time. Noting that not all so-called seroprevalence studies are created equal, she says it's important to be clear about that when discussing the implications of different studies' findings. Her study will monitor how seroprevalence and the number of asymptomatic infections in the community respond to changes in COVID-19 mitigation strategies. "I think that it's really important that many places do seroprevalence studies -- I'm super supportive of that," she says. "I also think it's incredibly important that people understand the limitations" of individual studies, she adds. "The study design and the test used and the interpretation have to be transparent to the [scientific] community, and there has to be some way to communicate that to the public." Read more about her study at Berkeley's School of Public Health. Another story mentioning this study appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
April 17, 2020
Lisa M. Krieger
A new Berkeley initiative, set to begin in early May and possibly continuing through the year, will test a large and representative sample of healthy East Bay residents to see if they have been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The tests will solicit saliva, swab and blood samples from volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60. The initiative addresses one of the key challenges faced in lifting physical distancing policies, since it's critical to know the full extent of viral spread with a disease that may be carried and spread by infected people without symptoms. "We're very excited about this ... We're going to follow people over time," says Dr. Eva Harris, a public health professor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccinology who is co-leading the project. Dr. Lisa Barcellos, a public health professor specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics, is co-leading the team. She says: "Our research is the first study in the Bay Area to identify and test a large, representative population of asymptomatic individuals, which will provide much-needed insight into transmission dynamics, the true extent of the community spread, and risk factors for infection beyond those tested for COVID-19 at hospitals and clinics." Other stories on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, and San Francisco Chronicle Online. For more on this, see this story at the School of Public Health.
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January 23, 2019
Debbie Ponchner
Pre-exposure to the dengue virus seems to protect children from harmful symptoms when they're subsequently infected by the Zika virus, a study co-led by public health professor Eva Harris has found. The researchers analyzed data from the large 2016 Zika epidemic in Nicaragua, focusing on a pediatric cohort with a history of exposure to the dengue virus. The cohort was established in 2004 to study dengue infections, and it includes some 3,700 children aged two to 14 years old. The findings support the hypothesis that there is an immunological interaction between the two viruses, which are transmitted by the same mosquito and affect the same populations. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including Eurasia Review, Drug News, The Medical News, Science Media Exchange (Australia and New Zealand), and Health Canal.
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