By Wendy Sarubbi | March 16, 2018 2:05 pm

It was innate curiosity and a passion for discovery that led Dr. Kyle Rohde to pursue a career in research. Now an assistant professor and infectious disease researcher at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Rohde is one of the recipients of the UCF Reach for the Stars Award, an accolade that recognizes early-career university professionals who have achieved noteworthy research of national impact.

“I think my interest in research started at an early age when I started doing science fair projects,” Dr. Rohde said. “I loved the sciences, but I didn’t have the desire to be a clinician, I was more interested in the novel discovery and the organized logical aspect of doing research.”

Dr. Rohde, who joined UCF in 2012, has been awarded 14 grants from the National Institutes of Health and other national organizations totaling more than $2 million.

His research focuses on drug discovery and development of novel diagnostics for tuberculosis, a highly contagious respiratory disease that is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Tuberculosis is very difficult to treat and in most cases, takes six to nine months of taking at least four drugs daily. The tuberculosis bacteria also express proteins that make it resistant to many drugs.  His goal is to identify new and better drugs to treat multi-drug resistant and dormant tuberculosis bacteria.

Dr. Rohde has published 27 peer-reviewed papers in high impact journals including Science, Cell Host and Microbe, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and Journal of Biological Chemistry.

His research in identifying anti-tuberculosis compounds in sea sponges and other marine organisms sparked media interest and was featured on national television on CBS Morning Rounds feature among other media outlets, nationally and internationally.

“Research is important because it gives us new knowledge and understanding of natural processes, but particularly in our field of infectious disease our research has a clinical impact and can improve health and well-being of people,” Dr. Rohde said.

Dr. Rohde, who received his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, also helps train the next generation of biomedical scientists by providing research mentoring to two Ph.D. students, two post-doctorate fellows and six undergraduate students working in his lab. He also teaches undergraduate courses in biomedical sciences.

“I love teaching because it allows me to give students a glimpse of what research is like,” Dr. Rohde said. “I get to inspire them and it’s very rewarding.”

Dr. Griff Parks, director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences describes Dr. Rohde as a true “triple threat” in research, education and service.

“He is a terrific faculty member who has established a robust, independent and well-funded research program and contributes to all of our missions at UCF,” Dr. Parks said.

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