Thomas Briese, PhD

Thomas Briese

Associate Director, Center for Infection and Immunity
Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology 
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Phone: 212.342.9035
Fax: 212.342.9044


Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, MS, 1983
Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, Ph.D., Biology, 1987
Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Genetik, Berlin, Germany, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1987-88
Institute of Virology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1989-90


Molecular epidemiology of emerging viral diseases
Virus-host interactions with emphasis on adaptive and innate immune responses
Innovative approaches to pathogen discovery and diagnosis
Molecular detection tools for the identification of bio-threat agents


Thomas Briese, PhD has been a global leader in infectious disease surveillance and discovery for over 25 years. In the early 1990s, Dr. Briese cloned the Borna disease virus genome, a novel infectious agent potentially linked to mental disorders. In subsequent years, Dr. Briese pioneered state-of-the-art methods in molecular biology to study the involvement of infectious agents in chronic and neuropsychiatric diseases, as well as in acute diseases. He earned international recognition for the identification of West Nile Virus, the flavivirus responsible for the 1999 New York City encephalitis epidemic; identification of Lujo virus, the first hemorrhagic fever-associated arenavirus from Africa identified in the past three decades; and the discovery of a previously unrecognized third species of human rhinoviruses, rhinovirus C. In 2003 Dr. Briese was one of few foreign researchers invited by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology to investigate and respond to the SARS coronavirus epidemic. Similarly, he was the first researcher to provide robust evidence that MERS coronavirus was likely transmitted to humans from camels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Most recently, Dr. Briese developed a groundbreaking diagnostics platform capable of detecting all viruses in a sample with great accuracy and sensitivity and at minimal cost. This finding was described by Scientific American as one of the “World Changing Ideas” of 2015 and is being developed for commercial use in the future.

Dr. Briese’s other activites include, service as an adviser to the WHO during the SARS and MERS epidemics, participation in The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) Steering Committee’s Infectious Agents Study Group, membership in the Bornaviridae Study Group and chair of the Bunyaviridae Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). Dr. Briese’s honors include the Albertsons Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Max Planck Society Post-doctoral Fellowship and the New Zealand Environmental Science and Research International Fellowship.


  • Briese, T., A. Kapoor, N. Mishra, K. Jain, A. Kumar, O. J. Jabado, W. I. Lipkin (2015) Virome Capture Sequencing enables sensitive diagnosis and comprehensive virome analysis.  mBio 6(5):e01491-15
  • Briese, T., N. Mishra, K. Jain, I. S. Zalmout, O. J. Jabado, W. B. Karesh, P. Daszak, O. B. Mohammed, A. N. Alagaili, W. I. Lipkin (2014) Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus quasispecies that include homologues of human isolates revealed through whole-genome analysis and virus cultured from dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia. MBio.5, e01146 – 14.
  • Alagaili, A. N., T. Briese, N. Mishra, V. Kapoor, S. C. Sameroff, P. D. Burbelo, E. de Wit, V. J. Munster, L. E. Hensley, I. S. Zalmout, A. Kapoor, J. H. Epstein, W. B. Karesh, P. Daszak, O. B. Mohammed, W. I. Lipkin (2014) Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia. MBio. 5, e00884 - 14.
  • Chowdhary, R., C. Street, A. Travassos da Rosa, M. R. Nunes, K. K. Tee, S. K. Hutchison, P. F. Vasconcelos, R. B. Tesh, W. I. Lipkin, T. Briese (2012) Genetic characterization of the Wyeomyia group of orthobunyaviruses and their phylogenetic relationships.  J. Gen. Virol. 93, 1023 – 34.
  • Epstein, J. H., P.-L. Quan, T. Briese, C. Street, O. J. Jabado, S. Conlan, S. Ali Khan, D. Verdugo, M. J. Hossain, S. K. Hutchison, M. Egholm, S. P. Luby, P. Daszak and W. I. Lipkin (2010) Identification of GBV-D, a Novel GB-like Flavivirus from Old World Frugivorous Bats (Pteropus giganteus) in Bangladesh. PLoS Pathog. 2010 Jul 1;6:e1000972.
  • Briese, T., J. T. Paweska, L. K. McMullan, S. K. Hutchison, C. Street, G. Palacios, M. L. Khristova, J. Weyer, R. Swanepoel, M. Egholm, S. T. Nichol and W. I. Lipkin (2009) Genetic Detection and Characterization of Lujo Virus, a New Hemorrhagic Fever–Associated Arenavirus from Southern Africa.  PLoS Pathog 4(5), e1000455.
  • Briese, T., N. Renwick, M. Venter, R. G. Jarman, D. Ghosh, S. Köndgen, S. K. Shrestha, A. M. Hoegh, I. Casas, E. V. Adjogoua, C. Akoua-Koffi, K. S. Myint, D. T. Williams, G. Chidlow, R. van den Berg, C. Calvo, O. Koch, G. Palacios, V. Kapoor, J. Villari, S. R. Dominguez, K. V. Holmes, G. Harnett, D. Smith, J. S. Mackenzie, H. Ellerbrok, B. Schweiger, K. Schønning, M. S. Chadha, F. H. Leendertz, A. C. Mishra, R. V. Gibbons, E. C. Holmes and W. I. Lipkin (2008) Global distribution of a novel rhinovirus genotype.  Emerg. Infect. Dis. 14, 944 – 947.
  • Briese T., B. Bird, V. Kapoor, S. T. Nichol and W. I. Lipkin (2006) Batai and Ngari viruses: M-segment reassortment and association with severe febrile disease outbreaks in East Africa.  J. Virol. 80, 5627-5630.
  • Briese, T., X. Y. Jia, C. Huang, L. J. Grady and W. I. Lipkin (1999) Identification of a Kunjin/West Nile-like flavivirus in brains of patients with New York encephalitis.  Lancet 354, 1261-1262.
  • Briese, T., A. Schneemann, A. J. Lewis, Y. Park, S. Kim, H. Ludwig and W. I. Lipkin (1994) Genomic organization of Borna disease virus.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 91, 4362-4366.
  • Full publication list

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