Joseph F. Petrosino, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine and the Director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research. He holds joint appointments in the Human Genome Sequencing Center, Department of Ophthalmology, and is a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology and Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine programs.
He obtained his undergraduate degree in microbiology and immunology with a distinction in research from the University of Rochester, followed by a PhD degree in microbiology and immunology from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed postdoctoral fellowship training in genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and was a Research Associate in the Human Genome Sequencing Center working on the functional genomics of biodefense and emerging infectious disease.
He was hired as a tenure-track faculty member at BCM in 2006 with a National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases funded Career Development Award Project from the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease. His ongoing comparative genomics studies of Francisella tularensis, a pathogenic bacterium with the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety, have helped move the field closer to the goal of creating new rationally-designed attenuated and/or subunit vaccines for this Category A select agent.
In 2007, Dr. Petrosino and his colleagues obtained funding through the NIH Common Fund for the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). As a large-scale sequencing center Principal Investigator for the HMP, Dr. Petrosino assisted in the lead of consortium efforts for standardized clinical sample preparation, sequencing, and analysis. This allowed microbial communities from diverse body sites and niches to be compared with minimal technical bias and has led to study design standards that are being implemented internationally.
As a result of the success of his efforts and to extend metagenomics and microbiome studies at BCM, the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research (CMMR) was established in January 2011, with Dr. Petrosino serving as its Director. Currently, the CMMR is pursuing over 200 metagenomics projects in humans and model systems with the goal to improve human health through detection and modulation of the microbes that reside on and in us and to translate these efforts into new diagnostics and therapeutics. Among the latest CMMR projects initiated is an $11.8M microbiome analysis of 18,000+ Type 1 Diabetes samples from the NIH/NIDDK TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young) study.
Dr. Petrosino has authored 40 original papers. Among 14 published in 2012 are the June HMP flagship manuscripts in Nature, collaborative studies examining microbiome associations with Cystic Fibrosis, pregnancy, nutritional intervention in colitis, rotavirus infection, and the shaping of the microbiome from birth in murine systems. He has been an invited to speak at numerous institutions and meetings nationally and internationally, and recently he has been named an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer for 2012-2014.