Lee Riley

Lee Riley

Professor and Head, Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology
School of Public Health
(510) 642-9200
Research Expertise and Interest
public health, infectious diseases, molecular epidemiology, global health, tuberculosis, drug-resistant infections, slum health
Research Description

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

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.
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.