William Petri, Jr.
Professor of Infectious Diseases
University of Virginia
William A. Petri, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. is internationally recognized as a scientist in Global Health at the University of Virginia (UVA), where he is also Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases & International Health, a practicing physician, inventor and entrepreneur, and teacher since 1985. Dr. Petri bridges the gap between laboratory science and the patient. Through his creative and cutting edge research, teaching, and clinical service, he interacts one-on-one with undergraduate, graduate and medical students, interns and fellows. Dr. Petri is a University leader who has built Infectious Diseases & International Health into UVA’s largest research program.
Dr. Petri is a pioneer and leader in the study of enteric infections and their consequences on the health of children. He leads the PROVIDE study of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is in Bangladesh and India exploring new solutions for the problem of oral poliovirus and rotavirus vaccine failures in the developing world. Alongside his collaborators, he has discovered that vaccine underperformance is associated with malnutrition, diarrhea, and shortened duration of exclusive breastfeeding.
Dr. Petri is also the most highly cited investigator in the world on amebiasis, one of the top 10 causes of diarrhea in children in the developing world. He has molecularly defined its ability to kill cells, developed the first FDA cleared test for its diagnosis, and was the first person to discover that children were immune to reinfection, and that immunity was associated with an IgA antibody response. He has discovered that the obesity hormone leptin plays a critical role in defense of the gut from ameba, with mutations in the receptor determining susceptibility to infection.
Dr. Petri was named by Nature as one of the top 20 NIH-funded scientists in the US. He is former President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Editor of Infection and Immunity. Dr. Petri received the Squibb Award and has been honored with the Burroughs Wellcome New Investigator and Scholar in Molecular Parasitology (1992-2003) as well as a Lucille P. Markey Scholar in Biomedical Research (1985-2003).
"Interactive teaching that engages the student’s and my mind is what builds bridges between student and teacher. To observe a student think through a problem and arrive at a solution is heartening."