Christine Petersen


Portrait of Christine Petersen, professor in the Department of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health

Title(s): Director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Professor
Department: Epidemiology
Office: S429 CPHB
Phone: (319) 384-1579

Dr. Petersen is the Director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (CEID) at the University of Iowa housed within the Department of Epidemiology. The focus of this center is to bring together trans-disciplinary research teams to lessen the burden of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases across health settings. These efforts bring together immunologists, vaccinologists and computational biologists/biostatisticians to attack the problem of vaccine-intractable infections through statistical hierarchical modeling of protective immunity. CEID-based efforts have led to published collaborative studies.

Dr. Petersen is also the principal investigator and last author in studies that follow the immunopathology of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and tick-borne diseases, including Borreliosis (LD) in a canine natural disease model. We have ongoing studies of dogs infected with visceralizing Leishmania spp in the US, Brazil and India and in people in Brazil and Ethiopia. She is Co-I of an R01 “Epidemic modeling framework for complex, multi-species disease processes,” working with Drs. Oleson and Brown, based on her laboratory’s wet-lab discoveries of canine progressive leishmaniasis. Dr. Petersen has also led multiple field and vaccine trials as PI on a sub-contract on a VL vaccine immunogencity study with Merial from an NIAID R01 to the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI). This subaward from IDRI led to further trials of experimental vaccine immunogencity ex vivo in cells from a hunting dog cohort, published in Vaccine in 2015 and a large CONSORT-guided vaccine field trial completed in spring of 2017 and recently also published in Vaccine (4). The safety portion of this trial was published in AJTMH in 2018. Her active research group is focused on the long term goal of understanding how to best protect people and animals from vector-borne diseases through effective treatment and/or vaccination.

Courses Taught

  • Zoonotic Diseases
  • Applied Veterinary Epidemiology/Biostats
  • Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases

Research Interests

  • Investigation of host-pathogen interaction between the immune system and Leishmania species in domestic and International cohorts (India, Brazil)
  • Evaluation of key comorbidities their immunologic mechanisms required to induce clearance of disease vs. progression in domestic and International cohorts (Brazil, Ethiopia)
  • Understanding of processing of and immune responses to carbohydrates
  • Development of diagnostics and epidemiological studies of Brucella canis
  • Transmission and Immunological Bayesian Hierarchical Modeling in collaboration with members of the Biostatistics department
  • Understanding the epidemiologic and immunologic factors that lead to clinical Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases
  • Identification of reservoirs and prevention of zoonotic diseases



  • Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Carver College of Medicine
  • Interdepartmental program in immunology
  • National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education

In the News