David H. Petering, PhD

Primary Institution:
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Distinguished Professor

As a professor of chemistry at UWM since 1971, David Petering has become an internationally recognized expert on the effect of metals on biological systems. He is director of the Institute of Environmental Health at UWM, as well as director of the Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and housed at the UWM Great Lakes WATER Institute.

A pioneer in metallodrugs, Petering is equally known for what he calls “the other side of the coin,” his research on metal toxicology, the harmful effects of metals. Petering has been a leader in measuring potentially toxic exposure to harmful metals in the environment and in the workplace. One such metal, cadmium, can accumulate in the soil where tobacco is grown. When smokers inhale, traces of cadmium are transferred to the body, where it affects a smoker’s kidneys, bones, and lungs. Petering was among the first to show how cadmium is toxic to the kidney. He is also recognized for his studies on the protein metallothionein, which protects cells against cadmium.

A third area of Petering’s research centers on the body’s metabolism of zinc. He has made major contributions to the area of tumor cell zinc biochemistry.

Associated SEPA Project(s)