Science & Technology

UGA lecture series kicks off with intestinal infection expert

Athens, Ga. – William A. Petri Jr., an internationally known expert on intestinal infections in children, opens the 6th annual Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard lecture series on Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the University of Georgia Chapel. The UGA series features heroes in the global battle against premature death and disease.

In a 5:30 p.m. lecture titled “Malnutrition: Genes, Vaccines and Means to Intervene,” Petri will show how combined insights from molecular biology and clinical medicine can help prevent some of the nine million deaths that amebiasis causes each year in children younger than five. His research shows that genetic differences make some infected children more vulnerable to malnutrition than others.

Petri is the Wade Hampton Frost Professor of Medicine, with joint appointments in the departments of microbiology and pathology at the University of Virginia Medical School. He also heads the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health and is founder of the Biodefense Training Program supported by the National Institutes of Health. He holds several major NIH grants related to infectious disease research and training.

Children in Bangladesh have long been the focus for Petri’s international health research program, where enteric infections cause rampant diarrhea, malnutrition and death. His Voices from the Vanguard lecture will focus on what his team has learned, and why he sees hope for the future.

In addition to conducting his research program, Petri remains a practicing physician. He is a board-certified internist with an infectious disease subspecialty, and in 2009 was named one of the Best Doctors in America. He serves as an attending physician on general medical wards and on the infectious disease service at the University of Virginia Hospital, where he receives top evaluations from medical residents.

Petri also has won awards for his outstanding teaching and mentoring of undergraduates, including his commitment to bringing more minority students into biomedical research.

The 2011 Global Diseases lecture series continues on Feb. 22, when University of Wisconsin researcher Bruce Christensen presents an integrated view of mosquito-borne infectious diseases.On March 23, AIDS advocate and prevention expert Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder of SisterLove, Inc., will discuss her organization’s work in Atlanta and South Africa. The lecture series concludes on April 21 with Stanford University Professor Jenna Davis discussing her work in water, sanitation and health.

All lectures will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the UGA Chapel, followed by a reception next door at Demosthenian Hall.

The Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard lecture series is a joint effort of Patricia Thomas, UGA’s Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Daniel G. Colley, director of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. For additional information, see