The Gehrke laboratory, located in the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, studies positive sense single stranded RNA viruses that are human pathogens. Examples of these viruses are: Dengue virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and Chikungunya virus. We investigate changes in gene expression at the epigenomic, transcriptional, and RNA translational levels that accompany virus infection. The broad goal of this work is to understand how viruses attack cells, and how cells fight back with an immune response.
To accomplish these goals, the Gehrke laboratory collaborates with the Jaenisch and the Sabatini laboratories at the MIT Whitehead Institute to form the MIT Center for Human Tissue Models for Infectious Diseases (MIT-HTMID), funded by an NIH U19 award. This project focuses on developing two-dimensional and three-dimensional tissue models to investigate neurotropic virus infections. Clinical pathologies that accompany these infections include microcephaly (Zika virus), as well as encephalitis (West Nile, Powassan).
A second focus of the Gehrke laboratory is on developing rapid, antigen-based paperfluidic rapid diagnostic tests to detect and distinguish virus infections. The diagnostics work is based on close collaborations with engineering colleagues in the MIT Little Devices Lab, with the Hamad-Schifferli lab, and with a network of colleagues in Central America, South America, and India, where the viruses are endemic.
Specific projects are outlined in the “Research” section of this site.