Joseph DeRisi

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Joseph DeRisi
Residence US
Nationality American
Alma mater Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz
Known for ViroChip, work on identifying SARS virus, gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum
Scientific career
Fields Biology
Institutions University of California, San Francisco Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Doctoral advisor Patrick O. Brown

Joseph DeRisi is an American biochemist, specializing in molecular biology, parasitology, genomics, virology, and computational biology.


He received a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1992) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (1999) from Stanford University.

Joseph DeRisi is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator and a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) with a joint appointment at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3).

DeRisi's best-known achievements are printing the first whole genome expression array (Derisi et al., 1997, Science; PMID 9381177), performing the first broad analysis of differential gene expression in cancer cells (Derisi et al., 1996, Nature Genetics; PMID 8944026), profiling gene expression throughout the lifecycle of the malaria-causing protozoan Plasmodium falciparum,[1] his discovery of the SARS virus,[2] and pioneering virus discovery using gene hybridization array and DNA sequencing technologies (Wang et al., 2002, PNAS, PMID 12429852). Joe is also known for tackling any "cool problem" whatsoever, which generally come in the form of biological questions complicated by obstacles not surmountable without invention of new protocols and techniques.

DeRisi uses microarrays extensively in his work, and has designed and built both hardware and software for microarrays. He is a proponent of open access to microarray technology,[citation needed] and maintains a website with software and protocols for microarray operations.[citation needed] He is also a proponent of open access publishing,[citation needed] and has publications in the Public Library of Science journals.[3]

DeRisi has identified putative disease-causing viruses in humans (cancer, SARS, other respiratory infections, etc.), and animals ranging from parrots and cockatiels to honeybees and boa constrictors. He and a research partner, Don Ganem, have identified a parasite, Nosema ceranae, that appears to be responsible for colony collapse among honeybees. He has also de-bunked the relation of viruses to certain subsets of human cancer.

Perhaps most relevant to contemporary global health, based on extensive characterization of the malaria-causing pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum, DeRisi's group has developed profoundly promising candidate drugs to cure malaria and a model for a vaccine to prevent malaria.

In 2004 DeRisi was named a MacArthur fellow (the "Genius" award), in 2008 was awarded the 14th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment, and in 2014 he received the John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science from the National Academy of Sciences. In 2016 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[4]



  1. ^ Llinas, Manuel; Bozdech, Zbynek; Wong, Edith D.; Adai, Alex T.; Derisi, Joseph L. (2006), "Comparative whole genome transcriptome analysis of three Plasmodium falciparum strains", Nucleic Acids Research, 34 (4): 1166, PMC 1380255Freely accessible, PMID 16493140, doi:10.1093/nar/gkj517 
  2. ^ Rota, Paul A.; Oberste, M. Steven; Monroe, Stephan S.; Nix, W. Allan; Campagnoli, Ray; Icenogle, Joseph P.; Penaranda, Silvia; Bankamp, Bettina; Maher, Kaija; Bellini, William J. (2003), "Characterization of a Novel Coronavirus Associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome", Science, 300 (5624): 1394, PMID 12730500, doi:10.1126/science.1085952 
  3. ^ Bozdech, Zbynek; Llinás, Manuel; Pulliam, Brian Lee; Wong, Edith D.; Zhu, Jingchun; Derisi, Joseph L. (2003), "The Transcriptome of the Intraerythrocytic Developmental Cycle of Plasmodium falciparum", PLoS Biology, 1 (1): e5, PMC 176545Freely accessible, PMID 12929205, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000005  open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected, News from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2016, retrieved 2016-05-14 .

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