Hunstad named inaugural Strauss Professor

Pediatric infectious diseases specialist recognized for excellence in mentoring

David Hunstad, MD (center), a pediatric infectious disease specialist, has been named the inaugural Arnold W. Strauss, MD, Endowed Professor for Mentoring at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He was installed in his new role by David Perlmutter, MD, (left) executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor; and Gary Silverman, MD, PhD, (right) the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. (Photo: Mark Beaven/School of Medicine)

David A. Hunstad, MD, a respected pediatric infectious diseases specialist and a national leader in pediatric research training, has been named the inaugural Arnold W. Strauss, MD, Endowed Professor for Mentoring at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Hunstad, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine, is held in high regard for his mentoring of early-career physician-scientists, and for his research involving pediatric urinary tract infections. The Department of Pediatrics funded the professorship to honor both Hunstad and Strauss, the latter a noted pediatric cardiologist who served as director of Washington University’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology from 1982-2000.

Hunstad’s laboratory, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is focused on understanding the molecular interactions between Gram-negative bacteria and their hosts, with a particular focus on E. coli and urinary tract infections. The lab’s current goals are to understand sex differences in kidney infections and the long-term effects of such infections, and to study emerging therapies and vaccines for urinary tract infections in pediatric populations.

“I am pleased to recognize David Hunstad as the Arnold W. Strauss, MD, Endowed Professor for Mentoring, and to take this opportunity to recognize Arnold Strauss’ enduring and remarkable legacy,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “David’s commitment to supporting future generations of physician-scientists has helped to fundamentally transform the culture of the university. His dedication fosters an environment of growth and learning that paves the way for future innovation. We also are eternally grateful for the work of Arnold Strauss, who has been a great leader in his field and dedicated mentor over his long and successful career.”

In conjunction with the mentorship he has exemplified in his laboratory, Hunstad acts as pediatric co-director for the School of Medicine’s Oliver Langenberg Physician-Scientist Training Program. He also serves as the training director for the Child Health Research Center and for an institutional physician-scientist training grant, both in the Department of Pediatrics. He also is a professor of molecular microbiology.

“David is one of the outstanding physician-scientist leaders in the Department of Pediatrics,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor. “His work on the pathobiology of urinary tract infections has advanced the field in this important area, and he has been a model mentor for pediatric physicians and scientists.”

Hunstad earned his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., before coming to Washington University School of Medicine on a full scholarship. He completed his residency in pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, during which he served as chief resident. He then completed a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship through Washington University.

The laboratory of Scott Hultgren, PhD, the Helen Lehbrink Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology, opened its doors to Hunstad in 2001 for Hunstad’s postdoctoral training, which was supported by the Pediatric Scientist Development Program. Hunstad joined the faculty in 2003.

“David Hunstad is an outstanding pediatric physician-scientist and educator,” said Gary A. Silverman, MD, PhD, the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. “He has emerged as a nationally visible leader in research training in pediatrics and has excelled in multiple leadership roles within our department and more broadly at the School of Medicine. We are delighted to be able to recognize and support his continued work and mentorship activities with this inaugural professorship.”

From 2018-22, Hunstad served as strategy and operations officer for the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR) and as an inaugural member of the Board of Directors of the Pediatric Academic Societies. He co-leads the SPR and American Pediatric Society’s Journeys mentoring program for early-stage pediatrician-scientists. In recognition of these and other activities, Hunstad received the Thomas Hazinski Distinguished Service Award from SPR earlier this year. Hunstad also has been elected a fellow of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Arnold W. “Arnie” Strauss, MD, earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1966 and completed his medical degree at Washington University in 1970. Following residency training in general pediatrics and pediatric cardiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, he completed a research fellowship in the Department of Biological Sciences at Washington University and at Merck, Sharp and Dohme Research.

Strauss joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in 1977. In 1982, he became director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. He was honored as an Alumni Endowed Professor in 1999. In 2000, Strauss became the James C. Overall Professor and chair of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine and the medical director of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where he remained until 2007.

At Vanderbilt, Strauss led the opening of the new Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. He later became the chair of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, director of the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation, and chief medical officer of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2007. He then transitioned to professor of pediatrics in cardiology and associate director of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund for external relations and strategic projects in 2014.

Strauss’ research interests have included the molecular basis of disorders of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. Patients with mutations in these genes present with heart failure, liver failure, and sudden infant death. His research also has involved understanding the genetic causes of congenital heart disease and heart failure in children. His work was recognized with the E. Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Pediatric Research in 1991 and the Basic Research Prize from the American Heart Association in 2006. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Strauss retired from his practice in 2020.

About Washington University School of Medicine

WashU Medicine is a global leader in academic medicine, including biomedical research, patient care and educational programs with 2,800 faculty. Its National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding portfolio is the third largest among U.S. medical schools, has grown 52% in the last six years, and, together with institutional investment, WashU Medicine commits well over $1 billion annually to basic and clinical research innovation and training. Its faculty practice is consistently within the top five in the country, with more than 1,800 faculty physicians practicing at 65 locations and who are also the medical staffs of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals of BJC HealthCare. WashU Medicine has a storied history in MD/PhD training, recently dedicated $100 million to scholarships and curriculum renewal for its medical students, and is home to top-notch training programs in every medical subspecialty as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology and communications sciences.

Originally published by the School of Medicine

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.