Lee Riley

Lee Riley

Professor of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases
School of Public Health
(510) 642-9200
(510) 643-6350
Research Expertise and Interest
public health, infectious diseases, molecular epidemiology, global health, tuberculosis, drug-resistant infections, slum health
Research Description

Our research program focuses on three general areas—1) basic biology of tuberculosis (TB) pathogenesis; 2) genetics of drug resistance and molecular epidemiology of drug-resistant infections; and 3) infectious diseases of urban slums in developing countries. Tuberculosis pathogenesis research currently focuses on delineating the mechanism of latency and reactivation from latency. In particular, the laboratory has been studying a family of operons called mce (mce1-4) that resemble ABC transporters, possibly involved in lipid transport across the cell wall of M. tuberculosis. Mutants disrupted in the operon are studied for their phenotype in mouse models. More recently, our pathogenesis studies in mice have transitioned into exploring host factors associated with latency and reactivation in human populations in Brazil, a TB-endemic country. These include the development and validation of  new biomarker-based  tests to diagnose pediatric TB and predict progression from latent infection to active disease in children and adults.  Our  second basic research area involves characterizing the genetics of drug resistance in Gram negative bacterial (GNB) pathogens and molecular basis of dissemination of pandemic lineages of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli. We have also launched a long-term project to identify every possible drug resistance genes in saprophytes in food that could potentially enter pathogens. Recognized drug resistance genes are also being characterized from GNB pathogens obtained from clinical sources domestically as well as abroad. The laboratory has field sites in Brazil, India, and Bangladesh, where we conduct studies to assess burden of infectious diseases that are predominant in urban slum settlements, including leptospirosis, rheumatic heart disease, TB, and drug-resistant GNB infections.  Thus, our research program emphasizes linking basic biology research with translational research to address infectious diseases of global importance.

In the News

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
October 17, 2018
Rich Haridy
A new diagnostic test developed by a team of Berkeley researchers can almost instantly identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, in urine samples. The simple and inexpensive test, currently being commercialized for planned rollouts in hospitals and clinics, detects the presence of beta-lactamase molecules -- enzymes the bacteria produce to withstand antibiotics. "Drug-resistant infections are a silent pandemic that actually kill more people every year than Zika or Ebola," says public health and epidemiology professor Lee Riley, the senior author of the work. "The faster you can start the right drug, the better the chances of survival or avoiding complications." Other researchers on the project included postdoctoral engineering fellow Tara deBoer and bioengineering professor Niren Murthy. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in Becker's Hospital Review and R&D.