Joe DeRisi is an interdisciplinary scientist whose work combines genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, and bioengineering to study autoimmune, parasitic, and viral diseases in a wide range of organisms.
One of the early pioneers of DNA microarray technology and whole-genome expression profiling, he was chosen for a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 for his work with microarrays, particularly as a member of a team that identified and characterized the virus (now known as SARS-CoV-1) that caused the original SARS outbreak in 2003.
DeRisi has been a leading advocate of unbiased methods for pathogen discovery, disease tracking, and clinical diagnosis using metagenomic sequencing. Over the past two decades his work has increased the power, versatility, and clinical utility of metagenomic tools, laying the groundwork for the CZ ID platform now used for pathogen surveillance and diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries around the world. More recently, together with colleagues at UC San Francisco (UCSF), he has increasingly focused on the use of programmable phage display technologies for investigating previously unknown autoimmune diseases.
DeRisi graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, before earning his Ph.D. in Biochemistry with Patrick O. Brown at Stanford University. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine, DeRisi is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. He was previously a Searle Scholar, a Packard Fellow, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute before launching the CZ Biohub in San Francisco in 2016 along with Steve Quake.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, DeRisi and his team at the Biohub and at UCSF worked together to rapidly launch a clinically certified testing facility, which ultimately offered free clinical tests and SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing to all 58 California Departments of Public Health, as chronicled in Michael Lewis’s 2021 book, The Premonition.