Lee Riley

Lee Riley

Title
Professor
Department
School of Public Health
Phone
(510) 642-9200
Research Expertise and Interest
public health, infectious diseases, molecular epidemiology, global health, tuberculosis, drug-resistant infections, slum health
Research Description

Lee Riley is a Professor and Head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology in the School of Public Health.  Research in the Riley Lab focuses on three general areas—1) antimicrobial drug resistant (AMR) Gram negative bacterial (GNB) infections--genetics of resistance, molecular epidemiology, and diagnostic test development; 2) tuberculosis biomarker discovery; 3) infectious diseases of urban slums in developing countries. AMR research targets emerging multidrug-resistant GNB infections including urinary tract and bloodstream infections.  Their basic AMR research focuses on characterizing  both mechanisms of resistance as well as mechanisms of bacterial resistance to acquiring drug resistance.  Applied AMR research focuses on developing new rapid tests to simultaneously detect GNB species and drug resistance directly from clinical specimens.  This work is done in collaboration with Bioengineering Department researchers.  AMR epidemiology research focuses on characterizing food as a major reservoir of AMR genes and pathogens linked to human extraintestinal infections.  Tuberculosis (TB) biomarker discovery projects stem from earlier basic pathogenesis research that examined the role of putative ABC lipid transporters in Mycobacterium tuberculosis comprised of a family of mce operons (mce1-4).  Host response to cell wall lipids of M. tuberculosis and mce operon mutants in latently infected subjects are studied in Brazil to predict progression to disease.  Their global health research projects focus on characterizing the epidemiology of infectious diseases that predominate in urban slums and the interaction of chronic noncommunicable diseases with these infectious diseases.  Their research team has collaborations and research sites in Brazil, Colombia, India, and Bangladesh.  Thus, their research program emphasizes linking basic biology research with translational research to address infectious diseases of global importance.

In the News

April 27, 2020

Urban slums are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. Here’s how to help

Government-enforced social isolation may help relatively affluent populations limit the spread of COVID-19, but these measures can be devastating for the nearly 1 billion people around the globe currently dwelling in urban slums, where physical space is scarce, and many rely on daily wage labor for survival.

In the News

April 27, 2020

Urban slums are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. Here’s how to help

Government-enforced social isolation may help relatively affluent populations limit the spread of COVID-19, but these measures can be devastating for the nearly 1 billion people around the globe currently dwelling in urban slums, where physical space is scarce, and many rely on daily wage labor for survival.

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.
March 24, 2020
Rachel Becker, CALmatters
Projections of imminent COVID-19 diagnoses can be overwhelming. Asked in an interview why the virus is spreading so far and so fast, Dr. Lee Riley, public health professor and chair of Berkeley's Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, says: "We don't really know why this is happening. But one of the observations being made in China, where they have a lot of experiences now, is that the virus seems to be able to transmit even before someone becomes symptomatic. ... And then even after an infected person recovers from the illness, they continue to shed the virus up to two weeks to even 20 days. So there's more opportunity for an infected person to transmit. That's why I think so many other people get infected -- because there's many more days of infectious period for a person to contract the virus. That may be one of the reasons that it's spreading so quickly." Regarding the numbers of confirmed cases and how testing delays and shortages may be affecting them, he says: "One caveat is that these numbers that we're getting may be somewhat delayed because as you know, the testing is increasing in number, and so there's a real backlog of the tests. We don't really know exactly what's happening now. The numbers that we're seeing are based on the tests that were done several days ago, and they're just coming up because [at] a lot of the testing services, there's a huge backlog right now. ... We don't know which direction this is going to go. We may see a continued increase, a huge bump in the next several days, but that just means the results are just coming in."
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July 16, 2019
Matt Richtel
Urinary tract infections, or U.T.I.s, that are antibiotic-resistant are making the common illness increasingly dangerous and difficult to treat. Dr. Lee Riley, an epidemiology and infectious diseases professor at Berkeley's School of Public Health, co-authored a study published last year, which found that 12 strains of E. coli in poultry match common urinary tract infection strains. He's currently working on a project funded by the C.D.C. to determine whether urinary tract infections need to be classified and reported as food-borne illnesses.
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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.
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