Dr Bill Petri
William A. Petri, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases & International Health at the University of Virginia.
Petri studies enteric infections. He leads the PROVIDE study of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is exploring in Bangladesh and India new solutions for the problem of oral poliovirus and rotavirus vaccine failures in the developing world. With his collaborators, he has discovered that Environmental Enteropathy, a chronic gut inflammatory condition due to enteric infections in low income country children, is a risk factor for oral vaccine underperformance, malnutrition, and child developmental disability.
C. difficile colitis is a major area of investigation in the Petri lab. Focusing on the early innate immune response to infection, he has shown that IL-23 mediated inflammation is disease-enhancing, and conversely that IL-25 is protective. Eosinophils mediate IL-25 protection, and C. difficile CDT toxin promotes virulence via the death of eosinophils in a TLR2-dependent pathway.
In the field of colitis due to E.. histolytica, Petri has molecularly defined the parasite’s ability to kill cells, developed the first FDA cleared test for its diagnosis, discovered that children were immune to reinfection, and that immunity was associated with an IgA antibody response. His research team identified the obesity hormone leptin as playing a critical role in defense of the gut from both C. difficile and amebic colitis, with mutations in the receptor for leptin a major determinant of susceptibility to infection.
Petri in 2014 received from Governor Terry McAuliffe the State of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, and has been recognized at UVa with the All-University Teaching, Dean's Excellence in Faculty Research, Distinguished Mentor of the Departments of Medicine and Biology, and Inventor of the Year Awards. International recognition includes election as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Editor of Infection and Immunity, receipt of the Oswald Avery Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Burroughs Wellcome New Investigator and Scholar Awards in Molecular Parasitology (1992-2003) as well as Lucille P. Markey Scholar in Biomedical Research (1985-2003). He has continuously served on advisory committees for the NIH since 1993, and is recognized as a “Best Doctor in America”.