21552-Relich, Ryan

Ryan F. Relich, PhD

Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

IU Health Pathology Laboratory
350 W 11th Street, Room 6027E

Indianapolis, IN 46202
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Dr. Ryan F. Relich is an American Board of Medical Microbiology-certified medical microbiologist who is passionately interested in all facets of diagnostic microbiology, especially laboratory directorship, infectious disease epidemiology and pathology, new diagnostic test development and evaluation, pathogen discovery, and viral ecology. In his current academic position at the Indiana University School of Medicine, he is actively involved in fellow, resident, and student teaching, and is the Director of the IU School of Medicine's CPEP-accredited Medical and Public Health Laboratory Microbiology Fellowship Program. He is actively involved in research concerning in vitro diagnostic product development, clinical trials, and emerging virus ecology. As an employee of Indiana University Health, Dr. Relich serves as the Medical Director of the Division of Clinical Microbiology, Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit Laboratory, and Interim Medical Director of the Division of Molecular Pathology. Dr. Relich is immensely interested in the ecology of emerging viruses, pandemic preparedness, development of dignostics for novel viruses, virus discovery and characterization, and establishing best practices for manipulating highly infectious clinical specimens for routine diagnostic testing. For more information on Dr. Relich's research interests, please click on the "Research" tab below.

Key Publications

Google Scholar

1. Shaheen M, Lei GS, Relich RF, Jarasvaraparn C, Tolliver KM, Molleston JP, Gonzalez IA. 2024. Granulomas in pediatric liver biopsies: single center experience. Pediatr Dev Pathol doi: 10.1177/10935266231221908. Ahead of Print

2. Vicente-Santos A, Lock LR, Allira M, Dyer KE, Dunsmore A, Tu W, Volokhov DV, Herrera C, Leis GS, Relich RF, Janech MG, Bland AM, Simmons NB, Becker DJ. 2023. Serum proteomics reveals a tolerant immune phenotype across multiple pathogen taxa in wild vampire bats. Front Immunol 14:1281732. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1281732. 

3. Gavina K, Franco LC, Khan H, Lavik JP, Relich RF. 2023. Molecular point-of-care devices for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in resource-limited settings - A review of the current landscape, technical challenges, and clinical impact. J Clin Virol 169:105613. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2023.105613.

4. Chang-Graham AL, Sahoo MK, Huang C, Solis D, Sibai M, August G, Calayag L, Kenji OM, Shi RZ, Mostafa HH, Lei GS, Relich RF, Pinsky BA. 2023. Comparison of nucleocapsid antigen with strand-specific reverse-transcription PCR for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 infection. J Clin Virol 164:105468. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2023.105468.

5. Gavina K, Franco LC, Robinson CM, Hymas W, Lei GS, Sinclair W, Hall T, Carlquist J, Lavik JP, Emery CL, Heaton PR, Hillyard D, Lopransi BK, Relich RF. 2023. Standardization of SARS-CoV-2 cycle threshold values: multisite investigation evaluating viral quantitation across multiple commercial COVID-19 detection platforms. Microbiol Spectr Jan 18:e0447022. doi: 10.1128/spectrm.04470-22.

6.  Relich RF, Loeffelholz MJ. 2023. Taxonomic changes for human viruses, 2020 - 2022. J Clin Microbiol Jan 26;61:e0033722. doi: 10.1128/jcm.00337-22.

7. Agard A, Elsheikh O, Bell D, Relich RF, Schmitt BH, Sadowski J, Fadel W, Webb DH, Dbeibo L, Kelley K, Carozza M, Lei GS, Calkins P, Beeler C. 2022. Clinical comparison and agreement of PCR, antigen, and viral culture for the diagnosis of COVID-19: clinical agreement between diagnostics for COVID-19. J Clin Virol Plus Aug;2(3):100099. doi: 10.1016/j.jcvp.2022.100099.

8. Pancholi P, Relich RF, Chandrasekaran S, Dunn JJ, Granato PA, Harrington AT, Hansen GT, Ledeboer NA, Li Q, Sims MD, Uphoff TS, Greene W, Young S, Dhiman N. 2022. Multicenter evaluation of the Simplexa VZV Direct assay for detection of varicella-zoster virus in cerebrospinal fluid and lesion-swab specimens. J Clin Microbiol Apr 20;60(4):e0235521. doi: 10.1128/jcm.02355-21.

9. Syed F, Li W, Relich RF, Russell PM, Zhang S, Zimmerman MK, Yu Q. 2021. Excessive matrix metalloproteinase-1 and hyperactivation of endothelial cells occurred in COVID-19 patients and were associated with the severity of COVID-19. J Infect Dis. Apr 22:jiab167. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab167.

10. Schneider JG, Relich RF, Datta D, Bond C, Goings M, Hadd D, Lei GS, Kedra J, John CC. 2021. Indentifying risk factors that distinguish symptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection from common upper respiratory infections in children. Cureus. Feb 10;13(2):e13266. doi: 10.7759/cureus.13266.

Titles & Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  • Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
  • Medical Director, IU Health Division of Clinical Microbiology
  • Medical Director, IU Health Donor Screening Laboratory
  • Medical Director, IU Health Special Pathogens Unit Laboratory
  • Interim Medical Director, IU Health Division of Molecular Pathology
  • Director, IU School of Medicine CPEP-Accredited Medical and Public Health Laboratory Microbiology Fellowship Program
  • Education
    2015 Fellowship IU School of Medicine
    2011 PhD Miami University
    2005 BS Clarion University of Pennsylvania
    2004 BS Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  • Research
    Emerging viral diseases pose a significant threat to the health and safety of the global community. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a number of novel viruses, including avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, Bundibugyo virus, Heartland virus, human metapneumovirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and, most recently, SARS-CoV-2, the etiologic agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), have emerged in the human population and have proven to be formidable threats to public health. In addition, known viruses such as chikungunya virus, mpox virus, and Zika virus have become established in new locations. The emergence of these and other pathogens has exposed many weaknesses in global infectious disease readiness and response infrastructures, and has revealed the needs for better diagnostics and an understanding of where these agents come from and what factors govern their spillover into the human population. A common factor in almost all outbreaks of novel viral pathogens is the involvement of one or more animal species, including birds, mammals (e.g., bats and rodents), and arthropods (e.g., ticks and mosquitoes), that serve as reservoirs, intermediate hosts, or vectors. By investigating the relationships between viruses, their reservoirs and vectors, and human and animal hosts, as well as possible drivers of their emergence (e.g., human encroachment on wild lands), it will be possible to better predict viral emergence so that either preventive or abatement countermeasures can be implemented in a rapid time frame.  

    Research in my laboratory is currently focused on four specific areas concerning emerging viruses:

    1. Development and refinement of diagnostics for emerging viruses. We are committed to developing new technologies and methods for the diagnosis of emerging viral pathogens, including arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, coronaviruses, filoviruses, flaviviruses, henipaviruses, orthomyxoviruses, orthopoxviruses, and paramyxoviruses. The overarching goal of this work is to create highly sensitive, specific, and rapid tests that are amenable to use in both laboratory and field settings. Collaborations with outside institutions, including the NIH, Purdue University, and Stanford University, and industry partners are underway for development and evaluation of tests for various respiratory viruses and arboviruses, mpox virus, and, soon, Nipah virus.

    2. Surveillance for emerging pathogenic viruses in arthropods collected in Indiana and abroad.
    By using a combination of classical and modern methods,  we seek to determine the prevalence of several emerging viruses in possible vector and reservoir species endemic to Indiana and abroad. Work is performed at both biosafety level (BSL)-2 and BSL-3 for detection of viruses such as Bourbon virus, chikungunya virus, Heartland virus, Lone Star virus, and Powassan virus. We are also interested in the detection and characterization of novel arboviruses.
    3. Surveillance for emerging pathogenic viruses in bats and rodents collected in Indiana and Central America. Similar to our arbovirus surveillance work, we are interested in detecting pathogenic viruses in wild bat and rodent populations throughout Indiana and abroad. We have partnered with the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Becker at the University of Oklahoma to test Neotropical and domestic bats for various pathogens, especially coronaviruses.  We are currently developing real-time PCR and nanopore next-generation sequencing methods to detect these viruses, and samples that yield detectable nucleic acids are inoculated onto a battery of primary and established cell lines to procure isolates for subsequent ultrastructural, biochemical, genomic, and pathogensis studies.
    4. Investigating the evolution, ecology, and pathogenicity of tick-borne viruses endemic to the U.S. Midwest. Bourbon virus (BRBV) and Heartland virus (HRTV) are two relatively recently discovered tick-borne viruses that are known to be virulent human pathogens. Both of these viruses have caused significant morbidity and mortality in a small number of human hosts, suggesting that these viruses, although currently rarely encountered, could pose serious dangers to at-risk populations if they become more prevalent. To that end, we wish to characterize the pathogenesis of these viruses in both cell culture and in animal models to understand how they cause disease and, if possible, identify therapeutic and/or preventive countermeasures. In the future, we plan to assess BRBV and HRTV pathogenicity in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Natasha Tilston-Lunel at the IU School of Medicine.

    1. IU School of Medicine

        Michael Davis, PhD, Department of Pediatrics
        Bob Lei, PhD, MA, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Manager,
        Relich Laboratory 

        Christopher Robinson, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

        Natasha Tilston-Lunel, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

        Homer Twigg, MD, Department of Medicine

        Andy Q. Yu, MD, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

    2. Purdue University
        Mohit Verma, PhD, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering 
    3. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

        Heinz Feldmann, MD, PhD, Chief, Laboratory of Virology; Chief, Disease
        Modelling and Transmision Section; Chief Scientist of the RML BSL-4  

        Andrea Marzi, PhD, Chief, Immunobiology and Molecular Virology Unit
        Vincent Munster, PhD, Chief, Virus Ecology Unit

    4. Stanford University

        Benjamin Pinsky, MD, PhD, Departments of Pathology, Medicine, and  
    I also serve as a member of the IU School of Medicine Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine's Industry-Sponsored Clinical Research Group. For more information on this program, it's faculty, and research interests, please click on this link: https://medicine.iu.edu/research/clinical/in-vitro/.
  • Professional Organizations
    American Society for Clinical Pathology
    American Society for Microbiology
    American Society for Virology
    Pan American Society for Clinical Virology
    South Central Association for Clinical Microbiology
  • Board Certifications
    American Board of Medical Microbiology
  • Clinical Interests

    Dr. Relich is very interested in the diagnosis of infectious diseases, especially viral diseases, and implementation of new diagnostic methods such as matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), real-time polymerase chain reaction, and next-generation sequencing for the identification of pathogens. In addition, he is interested in classical virological methods, such as cultivation, serology, and electron microscopy, for detection of viruses in clinical specimens.

  • Awards
    Org: Indiana University
    Desc: Trustees Teaching Award
    Scope: University
    Date: 2023-05-02
    Org: Pan American Society for Clinical Virology
    Desc: Young Investigator Award
    Scope: International
    Date: 2021-05-01
    Org: Indiana University School of Medicine
    Desc: Clinical Pathology Teaching Award
    Scope: Department
    Date: 2018-06-15

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