Lisa Barcellos

Research Expertise and Interest

public health, genetic epidemiology, human genetics, autoimmune diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, epigenetics, genomics, computational biology

Research Description

Lisa Barcellos received her PhD in Immunology (emphasis Immunogenetics)and MPH in Epidemiology from UC Berkeley. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow in genetic epidemiology at UC San Francisco. She is a genetic epidemiologist specializing in diseases of the immune system and is working to identify genetic factors that predispose people to autoimmune diseases and that modulate disease expression and clinical progression.

Most of her research to date has centered on multiple sclerosis (MS). She is collaborating with other scientists at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Southern California and UC San Francisco Department of Neurology. She and colleagues at UC San Francisco Department of Medicine are also leading studies focused on systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions.

In addition to genetics, genomics and epigenetic studies, Barcellos is also investigating environmental exposures, such as smoking and obesity, and maternal-child immunogenetic relationships for involvement in disease risk. “ I ’d say in the last ten years, it ’s become even more apparent that environment is playing a huge role in autoimmune diseases, as well as other common, complex disorders like diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness,” she says. “Studies in genetic epidemiology need to incorporate that information.”

In the News

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.
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 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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