Petri, William A.

William A Petri

William A Petri

Primary Appointment

Wade Hampton Frost Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Disease, Medicine: Infectious Diseases and International Health


  • Residency, Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cleveland
  • Clinical Fellowship, Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia
  • PhD, Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia
  • MD, University of Virginia

Contact Information

345 Crispell Drive, MR-6 1st floor, Room 1709
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Telephone: 434-243-952/434-982-1700
Fax: 434-924-0075

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of parasitic infection

Research Description

William A. Petri, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. studies enteric infections and their consequences in children of the developing world. The scope of research includes molecular parasitology, host defense and Clostridium difficile in the lab at UVa, and in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan studies of infant vaccines and undernutrition. Focusing on amebic colitis, his lab identified the Gal/GalNAc-binding lectin of the parasite Entamoeba histolytica that mediates contact-dependent killing of host cells. Cell biologic studies of adherence, apoptosis and endocytosis of human cells by the parasite are active areas of investigation. DNA transformation of the parasite was pioneered in the lab, and is used to study molecular pathogenesis. Clinically, the group has developed FDA-approved antigen-detection tests that allow sensitive and specific diagnosis of amebiasis. Using these tests in a now 10 year study of 300 children in Bangladesh, acquired immunity to amebiasis was discovered and demonstrated to be associated with interferon gamma and mucosal IgA anti-lectin immune responses. A genetic polymorphism in the leptin receptor, which is a regulator of T cell development, influenced the development of immunity. We are pursuing these observations in a murine model of disease. We are also developing an amebiasis vaccine, and have just started an 8 country study of the role of enteric infections, microbiome and human genome on child malnutrition and oral vaccine failure. Ten graduate students have received the PhD degree in the Microbiology Department working in the lab, and 16 postdoctoral fellows have also trained there. Currently there are five graduate students and seven postdoctoral fellows conducting research in the lab.

Selected Publications