'New Antibiotics for Drug-Resistant Infections' topic of free lecture Feb. 13

February 09, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A free public lecture titled "New Antibiotics for Drug-Resistant Infections" will be given by Kenneth Keiler, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, in 100 Thomas Building on the University Park campus. During his lecture, Keiler will describe his discovery of an entirely new kind of antibiotic made from molecules discovered by his team that have broad-spectrum antibiotic powers to make bacteria incapable of protein synthesis.

The presentation is the fourth of six lectures on consecutive Saturdays in the 2016 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, an annual free public minicourse provided by Penn State's Eberly College of Science. Registration is not required, and all are welcome to attend any or all of the lectures. The overall topic of this year's series is "Medial Research from Labs to Hospitals to Homes." Keiler and the other speakers in the 2016 series all are making discoveries at the frontiers of research related to human health.

Keiler's research has revealed new opportunities in basic science research as well as in medical research to fight such diseases as tuberculosis, anthrax and food-borne illnesses. He leads several ongoing projects to advance drug development with these new antibiotic molecules. 

His lab focuses on how cells make protein, particularly under stressful conditions. The goal of this research is to understand the fundamental biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology of this system and related pathways, and to use this knowledge to develop advanced antibiotics and tools for basic research. He also collaborates with Sarah Ades, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, to explore other pathways that are candidate targets for antibiotic development and chemical-biology studies.

Keiler's research and teaching achievements have been recognized with a Tombros Faculty Fellowship from the Center for Excellence in Science Education in 2012, the Tershak Teaching Award from Penn State's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2014, and the Penn State Eberly College of Science C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015.

Keiler earned a doctoral degree in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995 and a master's degree in biology and a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at Stanford University in 1989. As a graduate student, Keiler discovered the previously unknown quality-control mechanism called "trans-translation," which prevents errors in protein synthesis in all species of bacteria, but is not known to exist in animals, plants, and other forms of life.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in the fall of 2002, Keiler was a Department of Energy Biosciences Research Fellow at the Life Sciences Research Foundation of the Stanford University School of Medicine from 1998 to 2002 and a Human Frontier Science Program Fellow at the Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire of the College de France from 1996 to 1997.

The lectures remaining in the 2016 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science series after Keiler's lecture on Feb. 13 include: 

  •  "Invented: A Better Tool Against Cancer" on Feb. 20 by Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics and the Huck Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State; and 
  •  "Anti-Cancer Drugs: Discovery and Development" on Feb. 27 by Raymond J. Hohl, professor of medicine and pharmacology and the director of the Penn State Cancer Institute.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is an annual free public minicourse organized and supported by the Penn State Eberly College of Science as an enjoyable and enlightening learning opportunity for residents of the central Pennsylvania area. The lectures will be archived online for learners worldwide. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures, is online at science.psu.edu/frontiers.

For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by calling 814-867-5830 or emailing science@psu.edu.


  • Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science
    IMAGE: Penn State
  • ​Ken Keiler

    Ken Keiler

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated February 09, 2016