Faculty Feature Andrew Janowski, MD

Faculty Features

“Maybe you should be a baby doctor?” Andrew Janowski wouldn’t want to admit it, but his mother’s advice to him in fifth grade after an episode of ER was spot on. Andrew grew up in Middleton, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. He spent much of his childhood focusing on soccer and track, but he gained notoriety for being a two-time school geography bee champion. Unfortunately, he did not guess British Columbia as the location of a deadly avalanche in 1998 and missed being one of the ten state finalists by a single question.

Like most of his family members, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in molecular biology and then matriculated at the medical school. In between long hours learning the differences between rubella, rubeola, variola, and varicella, Andrew’s claim to fame was being the combined medical/law school champion at Mario Kart 64. Thankfully, his focus did not stray from important items, like selecting his specialty, where his choice on the first day and last day of medical school was the same: pediatrics. Whispers of Andrew being an infectious disease specialist started as a fourth-year student that was reinforced with the guidance of Ellen Wald and Jim Conway. Andrew would match at his first-choice residency at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where he developed critical skills as a pediatrician under Basil Zitelli and Sara McIntire, and pediatric ID with Mike Green, Marian Michaels, and Judy Martin.

Seeking a program with strong clinical expertise and basic science research, Andrew was fortunate that Gregory Storch and David Hunstad were willing to take him for his fellowship at Washington University. To date, one of the high marks of his career was receiving the fellow teaching award in 2015. Andrew built his research niche with his mentor David Wang, and Andrew’s current research can be summarized in six words: discovery and characterization of novel viruses. He initially described a novel family of viruses named statoviruses from mammalian stool samples and now has been working with astroviruses, a family recently recognized to infect the brain, including cell types like astrocytes. Andrew holds a K08 award from the NIH/NIAID and is now identifying even more exciting diseases that could be associated with astrovirus infection.

Now that he has more free time for himself, Andrew can usually be spotted on the weekend running laps on the perimeter of Forest Park. For the first hour he is usually happy and motivated, but the second half of his run results in a scowl as he ponders the necessity of his dedication. Andrew has been fortunate enough to expand his geography knowledge by seeing the world, including swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands and having a near death experience while whitewater rafting in Costa Rica. Harkening back to his decision to nearly double major in college with a degree in astrophysics, Andrew is now accumulating the resources to become an amateur astrophotographer. Apparently, Andrew has developed a key bond with all things astro: astronomy, astrophotography, astroviruses, astrocytes. Well, almost everything, as he still keeps astrology at arm’s length and refuses to drive a Chevy Astro.

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