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K-State Today

May 7, 2012



Noted researcher bringing expertise in bacterial diseases to university as head of department of biochemistry

By Communications and Marketing

After a national search that attracted significant competition, Phillip E. Klebba is joining Kansas State University as head of the department of biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. He will start his new job in July.

Klebba is currently a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma.

"I’m excited to join the distinguished faculty of the department of biochemistry at Kansas State University," Klebba said. "I look forward to pursuing the ambitious goals of the K-State 2025 plan in the context of educating students, performing basic research and applying our findings to health and agriculture in the state of Kansas."

According to Peter Dorhout, dean of Kansas State University's College of Arts and Sciences, Klebba's work adds to the university's historic leadership in disease research in bacteria.

"Dr. Klebba is exactly the kind of departmental leader and scholar we were seeking to build on the excellence that Dr. Kanost, current department head and university distinguished professor, has fostered with the faculty," Dorhout said. "Dr. Klebba's global perspectives on education and research are a welcome addition to the program."

Klebba's research addresses the close correlation between iron acquisition and bacterial disease. Pathogenic bacteria produce transport systems to obtain the metal, and inhibition of their iron uptake reduces or prevents their virulence.

"We are working to understand the underlying biochemistry of bacterial iron transport so that we may design inhibitors to block these processes and prevent microbial infections," he said. "Our research program related to bacterial infectious disease complements the department of biochemistry's well established expertise in insect and plant biochemistry and other disciplines."

As a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, Klebba has garnered the global perspective on problem solving and research in bacterial diseases. He has also spent time as a visiting professor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An author of nearly 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 90 invited international lectures, he has enjoyed continuous extramural funding since 1986 for his work in understanding how bacteria operate.

As part of his research team, Klebba's wife, Sally Newton, will also be joining the department of biochemistry as a research professor.

Klebba earned his bachelor's from the University of Notre Dame and his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. He did postdoctoral work at Stanford University and at Berkeley. Prior to joining the University of Oklahoma in 1993, Klebba served at the Medical College of Wisconsin and at Notre Dame.