Karl Klose, microbiology professor in the UTSA College of Sciences and researcher in the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, has been named a fellow by the American Academy of Microbiology.
Elected by his peers for his lifetime scientific contributions to the field of microbiology, Klose will receive the honor at the Academy Fellows luncheon on Tuesday, June 2 in New Orleans.
For more than 25 years, Klose has studied how bacteria cause disease, with the goal of developing new vaccines and therapeutics, specifically to combat cholera and tularemia. His research has been funded by a number of agencies, including the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, San Antonio Area Foundation and Thrasher Research Fund.
Klose's cholera research focuses on how the Vibrio cholerae bacterium causes disease. The acute infection, caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water, claims more than 120,000 lives annually.
Recently, Klose discovered that the bacterium, which normally lives in oceans and rivers, senses a shift in temperature as it enters the human body through a mechanism called a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) thermometer. The thermometer detects the higher body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and then turns on the virulence factors that lead to cholera. Klose and his colleagues at UTSA, collaborating with scientists in Germany, demonstrated that interfering with the thermometer prevents the bacteria from causing disease, suggesting possible therapeutic outcomes.
Another area of Klose's research centers on developing a vaccine to combat tularemia, or rabbit fever. When introduced into the lungs, the bacterium Francisella tularensis is highly infectious and can be fatal. As a result, it has been developed as a bioweapon by several countries around the world. Klose's research team identified a way to create a tularemia vaccine from a live bacterium that protects against pulmonary infection in several animal models.
An author of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, Klose joined UTSA in 2004 and was the founding director for the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. He has taught "hands-on" microbiology courses in India and Chile, and maintains adjunct positions at the UTHSCSA and Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Klose was the recipient of the UTSA President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Research Excellence in 2009.
Additionally, Klose has served as an active faculty member in the UTSA Center for Infection Genomics (CEIG). The center was established in 2011 with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense Army Research Office to support microbiology research, teaching and outreach activities aligned with Army priorities. The CEIG aims to increase the pool of talented high school students pursuing microbiology research careers.
Klose earned bachelor's degrees in Biochemistry and German Literature from the University of California at San Diego, and a doctoral degree in microbiology from the University of California at Berkeley. He followed this with postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School, and was a faculty member at the UTHSCSA prior to his arrival at UTSA.
Founded in 1955, the American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, the world's largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.
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