Ken Bayles, Ph.D., honored today as Scientist Laureate

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | February 13, 2018

Image with caption: Ken Bayles, Ph.D.

Ken Bayles, Ph.D.

Today, Ken Bayles, Ph.D., professor in the UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology and associate vice chancellor for basic science research, will be honored as UNMC's 12th Scientist Laureate.

It is the medical center's highest honor for research.

Dr. Bayles' research focuses on strategies to combat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus.

His lab of six researchers works to understand the molecular events that control the process of biofilm development.

"Since biofilm is an important cause of the recalcitrance of bacteria to antibiotics, it's important that we understand in detail how these biofilms are formed and how they persist so that we can find new ways to get rid of them," Dr. Bayles said.

He stressed that biofilms, which can grow like dental plaque on implanted items such as knee joints and hip replacements, cause antibiotic "tolerance," not "resistance."

"In the biofilm, a physiological change happens," he said. "It allows the bacteria to persist in the presence of the antibiotic. An antibiotic may still prevent growth of the bacteria within the biofilm, but they can still persist -- basically, it prevents the antibiotic from killing them. So when you take the antibiotic away, the bacteria will continue growth as before."

Implanted devices that become colonized with biofilm are often untreatable, he said.

"The only way to get rid of them is to take the infected device out and put a new one in."

Dr. Bayles has been working in staph-related research since he was a graduate student in the 1980s. He was happy, he said, to find a home in UNMC that has been very supportive of his research -- and research in general.

"I noticed the energy here when I first interviewed," he said. "I noticed the excitement, and I still feel that today. I think that the university invests and provides a lot of support for a variety of programs."

Dr. Bayles said he was honored to be joining the 11 previous Scientist Laureates.

"It's obviously special to be part of that elite group," he said. "I think that what makes the people in that group stand out is the ambition that we all have.

"There are a lot of things that go into making a good scientist," he said. "It's perseverance and courage to go in directions that may be against the paradigm, it's pushing the envelope and coming up with innovative new ideas.

"That's probably the common thread," he said. "However, there are variations of this and different paths people take to achieve this honor -- there's no one way to do it."


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Emily McElroy
February 13, 2018 at 4:31 PM

Well deserved!!

Heidi Kaschke
February 13, 2018 at 1:35 PM

Congratulations, Dr. Bayles!

Pinaki Panigrahi
February 13, 2018 at 12:48 PM

Congratulations Ken. Not at all surprised.

Linda Sobeski
February 13, 2018 at 10:39 AM

Congratulations, Ken!

Ruth scott
February 13, 2018 at 9:36 AM

Thank you for your outstanding perseverance!

Dan Grice
February 13, 2018 at 9:29 AM

Congratulations, Dr. Bayles!

Kusum K. Kharbanda
February 13, 2018 at 8:37 AM

Congratulations Ken. A well-deserved award!!

John S Davis
February 13, 2018 at 6:54 AM

Congratulations Ken, well deserved.