Chair and Walter Schroeder Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Dr. Kirby graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992 and received his PhD in Biochemistry from that institution in 1998. From 1998-2002, Dr. Kirby was a postdoctoral fellow in molecular cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
From 2002-2006, Dr. Kirby was Assistant Professor of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was Associate Professor of Microbiology at the University of Iowa from 2007-2014, before being promoted to the rank of Professor. Additionally at the University of Iowa, Dr. Kirby was a faculty member in the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioengineering; Medical Scientist Training Program; Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in Genetics and Informatics; Fraternal Order Eagles Diabetes Research Center; Sloan Center for Exemplary Mentoring; Interdisciplinary Institute for Human Genetics; Behavioral-Biomedical Interface Training Program; Department of Urology (where he also served as Director of Residents Research); and Obesity Research and Education Initiative. Dr. Kirby joined MCW as Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology on January 1, 2017. He also holds the Walter Schroeder Professorship in Microbiology and Immunology.
Dr. Kirby’s major areas of research focus on signal transduction in diverse bacteria ranging from soil dwelling spore formers (Bacillus subtilis and Myxococcus xanthus) to biofilm forming pathogens, to microbial communities in the gut. Dr. Kirby is actively investigating interactions between M. xanthus and B. subtilis as a model for predator-prey interactions in vivo, primarily to assess the role of production of specialized metabolites, similar to antibiotics, on both sides of the predator-prey equation. Additionally, he has been examining the role of xenobiotics (antipsychotics, antihypertensives and antibiotics) for their capacity to disrupt the gut microbiota with deleterious consequences on metabolism.
Dr. Kirby has held numerous professional positions. Since 1997, he has been a member of the American Society of Microbiology; from 2006-2007, he was Division Chair, American Society for Microbiology: Cell and Structural Biology, and served as the Division Advisor from 2007-2008. He was an Instructor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Advanced Bacterial Genetics from 2006-2010. He also serves as Science Advisor for Hennepin Life Sciences, Academic Editor for PLOS ONE, and Chair of the GRC on Sensory Transduction in Microorganisms. Additionally, Dr. Kirby serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Molecular Microbiology and Frontiers in Microbiology.
Dr. Kirby has been significantly involved in undergraduate, medical student, graduate and postdoctoral education, including serving as a thesis advisor and on thesis committees in anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, biology, epidemiology, genetics and microbiology. He also continues to serve as a mentor to faculty members at other institutions around the country.
Dr. Kirby has participated in approximately 130 invited lectures, workshops and presentations, both nationally and internationally. His bibliography includes more than 50 articles and book chapters. His work has been reproduced in several textbooks and received recognition in the press, including the New York Times, Popular Science and Nature Reviews.