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K-State Today

April 18, 2023

K-State's Frank Blecha to lead Core Research Laboratories in College of Veterinary Medicine

Submitted by Joe Montgomery

Frank Blecha

Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine has appointed Frank Blecha to serve as the director of Core Research Laboratories.

As co-principal investigator, Blecha secured a $3.43 million National Institutes of Health C06 grant to construct consolidated biomedical core facilities in support of emerging and zoonotic disease research. Five current and former faculty members and Hodes Family Dean Bonnie Rush were co-investigators and collaborating authors of this grant.

"This new core research facility will strategically combine five key disciplines: animal model/pathology, molecular and cellular biology, microscopic imaging, flow cytometry and cell sorting, and next-generation sequencing. Early phases of construction have begun," Rush said.

Blecha has served as associate dean of research in the veterinary college since 2010. Prior to that, he was head of the anatomy and physiology department from 1998-2011 and assistant department head from 1991-1998. As department head, he mentored and supported the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, award focused on epithelial function in health and disease. He has served as a faculty member specializing in immunology since joining K-State in 1981.

In 2001, Blecha was recognized by K-State as a university distinguished professor, the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty members. In 2004, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Department Head.

"Dr. Blecha has devoted his entire faculty career to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. His leadership and research experience make him an obvious choice for directing the construction and developing infrastructure to support the Core Research Laboratories," Rush said. "His loyalty to Kansas State University is unparalleled. His work has elevated our research mission by serving as an example of excellence in discovery."

Under Blecha's leadership, the College of Veterinary Medicine became a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Award One Health Alliance in 2018. In 2012, Blecha was part of the first research consortium to successfully map the genome of the domestic pig.

Blecha's research focus has been on the evaluation of the regulatory mechanisms involved in innate immunity, including the role of antimicrobial peptides and antiviral cytokines. He has published 158 peer-reviewed publications with 12,835 citations and an h-index of 61.

Blecha holds five U.S. patents and has delivered 138 invited presentations. He has held leadership positions in national and international organizations, including the American Association of Immunologists and the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists. In 2010, Blecha received the Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award from the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists.

Blecha has served as a major professor for nine doctoral and three master's students and a mentor for four postdoctoral fellows. In addition, he has served on the supervisory committees for 56 graduate students. In 1998, he was presented with the University Distinguished Graduate Faculty Member Award at Kansas State University.

An internal search will be conducted for the vacated position of associate dean of research for the College of Veterinary Medicine.