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Dr. William C. Davis receives WSU 50 years of service award for exceptional career in immunology research

Feb 13, 2019
Dr. Davis is an immunologist in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Davis joined WSU in 1968 when laboratory research was in its very early stages. Over the years he has supported the growth of basic research, helping to bring in the cutting edge labs seen in the Department today.

PULLMAN, WA –Dr. Davis is an immunologist in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Davis joined WSU in 1968 when laboratory research was in its very early stages. Over the years he has supported the growth of basic research, helping to bring in the cutting edge labs seen in the Department today. 

William C Davis“My interest in immunology began very early – surveying the National Geographic magazines on my grandfather’s bookshelf. That sparked a lifetime of keen interest and passion for knowledge and solving microbiologic problems,” stated Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis is internationally known for his research on mycobacterial pathogens, particularly those that cause bovine tuberculosis and Johne’s disease in cattle. Both of these diseases continue to impact the health and wellbeing of domestic livestock worldwide, and both can have human health implications. 

Effective vaccines have been elusive, but Dr. Davis and his team have discovered the “Achilles’ heel” for both pathogens. He has shown that deleting the gene called “relA” in the bacteria renders it unable to cause disease, and importantly, enhances a key immune response needed for protection. He has also discovered the bacterial protein that is targeted by this immune response. The next step is to conduct experimental trials in cattle to validate his new vaccine concept. Dr. Davis is now poised for this important next phase, and is actively pursuing funding to do the work

“The contributions of Dr. Davis to the field of veterinary immunology have had a global impact,” stated VMP Department Chair Dr. Bob Mealey. “We are very excited to celebrate Bill’s 50 year career in research and his important contributions to training, mentoring, and serving faculty and students so they can carry on his passion for discovery at WSU.”

As part of Dr. Davis’ commitment to WSU College of Veterinary Medicine he and his wife, Betty Davis, have established the Bill and Betty Davis Endowment for Basic and Applied Research in Immunology of Food and Companion Animals. Please visit the web page for more information on this endowment and his matching commitment.