Infection Medicine

Professor Richard Lathe

Honorary Fellow, Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine

Richard Lathe


Richard Lathe graduated BSc (Molecular Biology) from the University of Edinburgh, studying under Bill Hayes and Martin Pollock. This was followed by Docteur es Sciences under Rene Thomas at the University of Brussels (Ciba-Geigy Fellowship). His postdoctoral studies were with Ekkehard Bautz at Heidelberg (EMBO), and Michael Ashburner at Cambridge (SERC). He was subsequently appointed Deputy Scientific Director at Transgene, Strasbourg, France (Biotech industry) and then Head of Molecular Biology at ARC ABRO, Edinburgh. Returning to Strasbourg to work with Pierre Chambon he was for several years titular Professor and Director of the Biotechnology School at the University of Strasbourg. For more than 10 years he was Professor and Chairman of the Centre for Genome Research at the University of Edinburgh. Other employments have included Permanent Advisor, GLSV Munich, Germany (Venture Capital for science start-up), Director, Pieta Research Consultancy, Edinburgh, and Professor at the State University of Pushchino, Moscow, Russia. He is Honorary Fellow at the Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine at Edinburgh University.

Research Interests

Research experience has ranged from bacterial genetics to Drosophila to vaccines against viral disease. He was instrumental in the development of the vaccine that has now eradicated rabies in France and other European countries. Accomplishments include the generation of the first transgenic sheep. Highly-cited publications concern the design of oligonucleotide probes from amino acid sequence data, the development of the rabies vaccine, and gene cloning advances focusing on breast cancer and steroid metabolism.  Previous grant awards have been from the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the European Commission, where he was Coordinator for a trans-Europe research initiative.

Recent research aims towards an understanding of brain function and dysfunction. Notable contributions include the discovery of CYP7B, a steroid and sterol hydroxylase predominantly expressed in the hippocampus. His monograph on autism was commended by the British Medical Association (2007).  Current research focuses on the potential contribution of infectious agents to Alzheimer disease and other conditions including autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. His current focus is on understanding the link between steroid/sterol metabolism, cognition, ageing, and brain disease.

Professor Lathe maintains an active interest in the origin of life, and is the originator of the Tidal Chain Reaction theory.  He has acted as Expert Witness at the European Patent Court and Expert Reviewer for the European Commission.

Research Theme

  • Host-Pathogen Interaction

Selected Publications

1.  Lathe, R. (1985) Synthetic probes deduced from amino acid sequence data: theoretical and practical considerations. J. Mol. Biol. 183, 1–12

2.  Lathe, R., Kieny, M.P., Gerlinger, P., Clertant, P., Guizani, I., Cuzin, F. and Chambon, P. (1987) Tumor prevention and rejection with recombinant vaccinia. Nature 326, 878–880

3.  Rose, K.A., Stapleton, G., Dott, K., Kieny, M.P., Best, R., Schwarz, M., Russell, D.W., Björkhem, I., Seckl, J. and Lathe, R. (1997) Cyp7b hydroxylates dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and pregnenolone at the 7α position. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94, 4925–4930

4.  Lathe, R. (2001) Hormones and the hippocampus. J. Endocrinol. 169, 205–231

5.   Lathe, R. (2004) Fast tidal cycling and the origin of life. Icarus 168, 18–22

6.   Lathe, R. (2005) Autism, Brain and Environment, Kingsley Publishers

7.  Lathe, R. and Harris, A. (2009) Differential display detects host nucleic acid motifs altered in scrapie infected brain. J Mol. Biol. 392, 813–822

8.   Lathe, R., Sapronova, A. and Kotelevtsev, Y. (2014) Atherosclerosis and Alzheimer – diseases with a common cause? Inflammation, oxysterols, vasculature. BMC Geriatr. 14, 36

9. Itzhaki, R.F., Lathe, R., and 31 others (2016) Microbes and Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 51, 979–984

10. Moir, R.D., Lathe, R., and Tanzi, R.E. (2018) The antimicrobial protection hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. 14, 1602–1614

11. Haas, J.G. and Lathe, R. (2018) Microbes and Alzheimer's disease: new findings call for a paradigm change. Trends Neurosci. 41, 570–573

12. Lathe, R., Singadia, S., Jordan, C., and Riedel, G. (2020) The interoceptive hippocampus: mouse brain endocrine receptor expression highlights a dentate gyrus (DG)–cornu ammonis (CA) challenge–sufficiency axis. PLoS One 15, e0227575

13. Lathe, R. and Darlix, J.L. (2020) Prion protein PrP nucleic acid binding and mobilization implicates retroelements as the replicative component of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Arch Virol. 165, 535–556

14. Lathe, R. and St Clair, D. (2020) From conifers to cognition: microbes, brain, and behavior. Genes Brain Behav. 2020, e12680