Renowned Expert in Viral Infections Named New Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

April 1, 2015

John V. Williams, M.D., an international authority on the epidemiology of respiratory viral infections, has been named chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

“As chief, I am looking to expand the research capacity of the division, leveraging the strength in transplant medicine with my experience with viral immunology,” said Dr. Williams, also professor of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We will aim to develop an exceptional group of physicians and scientists to provide the best pediatric care for children with infections and conduct cutting-edge research relevant to pediatric infectious diseases.”

Prior to joining Children’s Hospital, Dr. Williams was at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was associate professor of pediatrics, pathology, microbiology and immunology. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and completed medical school at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University. He trained in pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and then in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt.

“The Division of Infectious Diseases has a long history of advancing knowledge in several areas, but in the clinical care of children who have undergone solid organ transplantation, it is particularly well established as an international force,” said David H. Perlmutter, M.D., physician-in-chief and scientific director, Children’s Hospital, and Distinguished Professor and Vira I. Heinz Endowed Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Williams take leadership of this program. With his expertise in the immunopathogenesis of viral infections, we believe this will be an exciting new direction for Children’s center of excellence in pediatric transplant care.”

During his fellowship at Vanderbilt, Dr. Williams began working on human metapneumovirus (MPV,) just after the virus was first discovered as a cause of acute respiratory infections. Over the years, his team has described the clinical features and epidemiology of MPV. His lab discovered that the major outer protein of MPV, the F protein, binds to cellular molecules called integrins to enter cells and initiate infection. His group also identified the MPV F protein as the target of antibodies that prevent infection, and showed that the F protein was an effective vaccine candidate.

In recent years, his lab has been responsible for identifying that MPV and other acute respiratory viral infections cause impairment of certain lung immune cells via a cellular signaling pathway that had previously only been associated with chronic infections and cancer. For this outstanding body of work on MPV, Dr. Williams was presented the 2014 E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research, the most prestigious research award in academic pediatrics.

Dr. Williams has extensive experience in other academic activities, including National Institutes of Health study sections and leadership in national and international academic societies. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology, Journal of Infectious Diseases, and Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society. He has been a very active mentor of students, residents and fellows, and in 2014 was elected to the Vanderbilt Academy for Excellence in Teaching. His wife, Stacey Swenn Williams, a general pediatrician and Pittsburgh native, will be joining Children’s Community Pediatrics at the CCP - GIL office.

For more information on Dr. Williams and the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, visit

Andrea Kunicky, 412-692-6254,
Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919,