Bill B. Messer, MD, PhD

Bill Messer, MD

Bill B. Messer, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology 
Division of Infectious Diseases, OHSU


BA, English, Clark Honors College, University of Oregon, 1989
PhD, Ecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003
MD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, 2006


Internal Medicine, University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NC, 2009


Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, 2012

Research interests

Dr. Messer's research focuses on arthropod-borne viruses, with substantial work in dengue virus and growing research projects studying Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever virus. The Messer lab's particular interest is in viral genetics and evolution and how those factors affect viral fitness, viral pathogenicity and the human immune response following infection or vaccination. 

Research focus

Determinants of long-term antibody mediated immunity to arbovirus infection in humans. We follow a cohort of dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus infected as well as yellow fever virus vaccinated humans over time to study the natural evolution of immunity over time. We focus particularly on type specific and broad antibody mediated dengue virus neutralization and the memory B cells that give rise to these type-specific and broadly neutralizing antibodies. We are interested in identifying putative thresholds and mechanisms of antibody mediated protection and how natural antibody mediated immunity correlates with and influences vaccine induced immunity.

Protein scaffold vaccines for flaviviruses. Because the flaviviruses are antigenically very similar, vaccine strategies that work for one flavivirus are expected to work for others as well. Working with Nancy Haigwood's group at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, we have developed a dengue virus serotype 2 vaccine that uses a bacterial protein scaffold to display dengue virus envelope protein antigens. This vaccine is both immunogenic and protective in non-human primates. We have adapted this scaffold to display envelope glycoproteins from the other three dengue virus serotypes as well as Zika virus with the intent of developing vaccines that can protect against all four dengue serotypes as well as Zika.

Clinical interests

Dr. Messer is trained in diagnosing and treating infections in the general population, international travelers and immune compromised hosts, including long-term management of HIV patients.


Dr. Messer completed his PhD in Ecology in 2003 under the mentorship of Drs. Aravinda de Silva in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Thomas Whitmore in the Department of Geography, both at UNC Chapel Hill. His dissertation focused on the evolution of dengue virus serotype 3 and the emergence of dengue hemorrhagic fever in Sri Lanka. After completing his MD and his residency in Internal Medicine at UNC in 2008 he joined the lab of Dr. Ralph Baric where he took primary responsibility for the Baric lab's dengue virus research program, supported by the Southeast Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense.  In May, 2012, following completion of his fellowship in Infectious Diseases, Dr. Messer was appointed Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine in the UNC School of Medicine. In November, 2012, Dr. Messer joined the faculty in the Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Oregon Health & Science University as an Assistant Professor where he has developed a broad research program studying the interplay between arthropod-borne virus genetics and human immunity following infection with these viruses.

View Dr. Messer's full list of publications here