Dr. Petroll received his BS degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 1984, and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1989. After two years at Georgetown University in the lab of Drs. James Jester and Dwight Cavanagh, he joined the faculty at UT Southwestern in 1991. He was promoted to professor in 2005, and became Chair of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering in 2012.

Dr. Petroll’s laboratory applies engineering approaches and design principles to the investigation of fundamental clinical and biological problems in ophthalmology, while providing training to graduate students, medical students and post-docs. The main focus of Dr. Petroll’s research is cell mechanics and tissue engineering, in which multidimensional time-lapse imaging is used to investigate how the mechanical behavior of corneal fibroblasts is regulated by both biochemical and biophysical stimuli. He also has a longstanding interest in the development and application of in vivo confocal microscopy, which allows quantitative 3-D imaging of the cornea and has been used in numerous research and clinical studies on corneal wound healing, toxicity, development and infection.


Duke University (1984), Biomedical Engineering
Graduate School
University of Virginia - Sfs (1989), Biomedical Engineering

Research Interest

  • Cell Mechanics
  • Confocal Microscopy
  • Corneal Cell Biology
  • Digital Imaging
  • Wound Healing


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Second harmonic generation imaging of corneal stroma after infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Robertson DM, Rogers NA, Petroll WM, Zhu M Sci Rep 2017 Apr 7 46116
Temporal and spatial analysis of stromal cell and extracellular matrix patterning following lamellar keratectomy.
Kivanany PB, Grose KC, Petroll WM Exp. Eye Res. 2016 Oct 153 56-64
Immunomodulatory therapy with anti-interleukin-1 after photorefractive keratectomy in the New Zealand white rabbit.
Taylor KR, Panday VA, Caldwell MC, Petroll WM, Apsey DA, Reilly CD J Cataract Refract Surg 2016 Jun 42 6 913-9
In vivo confocal microscopy of the cornea: New developments in image acquisition, reconstruction and analysis using the HRT-Rostock Corneal Module.
Petroll WM, Robertson DM Ocul Surf 2015 May
Mechanical interactions and crosstalk between corneal keratocytes and the extracellular matrix.
Petroll WM, Miron-Mendoza M Exp. Eye Res. 2015 Apr 133 49-57

Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
  • Fellow, Silver Level
    Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (2009)
  • Senior Scientific Investigator Award
    Research to Prevent Blindness (2008)
  • Olga Keith Weiss Scholar Award
    Research to Prevent Blindness (1999)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Chair, UTSW Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering (2012)
  • Member, American Society for Cell Biology
  • Member, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
  • Member, Biomedical Engineering Society