John V. Williams, MD, is Henry L. Hillman Professor of Pediatric Immunology; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; and Director, Institute for Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity in Children (i4Kids). Dr. Williams is an international authority on the epidemiology, immunity, and pathogenesis of respiratory viruses. The major focus of his research is the immunity and pathogenesis of human metapneumovirus (HMPV). His team described the epidemiology of HMPV, a leading cause of lower respiratory infection. His lab discovered that HMPV uses integrins as receptors to enter cells through endocytosis. His group identified the HMPV F protein as a protective antigen and showed that F protein was an effective vaccine. Dr. Williams’ lab discovered that HMPV and other acute respiratory viruses induce lung CD8+ T cell impairment via the PD-1 signaling pathway, previously associated with chronic infections and cancer, and that this impairment limits memory and vaccine responses to respiratory viruses.
Dr. Williams also leads CDC-funded surveillance studies of acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in children based at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of only seven sites nationally. He conducts collaborative research with clinical investigators at the University of Pittsburgh and international sites. He has participated in studies of respiratory virus epidemiology in North America, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. His group has published studies on coronaviruses, influenza virus, HMPV, parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinoviruses in diverse populations.
He completed his undergraduate education at Northern Virginia Community College and the University of Virginia and attended medical school at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University. He trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh/University of Pittsburgh and completed fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
He has authored or co-authored more than 150 original articles, reviews, and chapters about his research, which has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Williams is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology and Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society. He has been an active mentor of graduate and medical students, residents, and fellows, and is a standing member of the NIH/NIAID MID-B Study Section. He has been recognized for his teaching and research accomplishments with the Society for Pediatric Research E. Mead Johnson Award, the Mary Ann and John Hash Award for Outstanding Teaching of Graduate Students in Microbiology and Immunology, and the inaugural Caroline B. Hall Award for Translational Research from the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.