Meet UNMC Distinguished Scientist Paul Fey, Ph.D.

April 08, 2011

UNMC researcher Paul Fey, Ph.D., answers questions about his work, life and interests.

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Paul Fey, Ph.D.
NOTE: This profile is part of a series highlighting the 24 researchers who will be honored at a May 2 ceremony for UNMC's 2010 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator award recipients.

  • Name: Paul Fey, Ph.D.
  • Title: associate professor of pathology and microbiology
  • Joined UNMC: 1997
  • Hometown: Garden City, Kan.

Describe your research in laymen's terms.

If you stick your hand down your garbage disposal at home and feel the slimy sides, what you feel is a multi-species bacterial biofilm. Unfortunately, this same bacterial film can form on medical implants and catheters and these infections are very difficult for physicians to treat with antibiotics and this can be devastating for patients. The majority of these biofilm-mediated infections are caused by Staphylococus epidermidis or Staphylococcus aurues. We study how the biofilm matures and what makes it unique.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?

By studying the basic biology of Staphylococcal biofilms, we are discovering novel ways to inhibit biofilm maturation and growth. Ultimately, we hope that our work will lead to ways that catheter and other biofilm-mediated infections can be cured without having the device removed from the patient.

Name someone at UNMC who provides vital contributions to your success and briefly describe how they help you.

We have applied a highly collaborative model in the Center for Staphylococcal Research. Our work is tied to multiple investigators including Drs. Bayles, Kielian and Hinrichs from pathology and microbiology; Drs. Rupp and Hewlett from infectious diseases; Drs. Hartman and Garvin from orthopedic surgery; and Dr. Longo from vascular surgery just to name a few. It is very exciting to bring in new perspectives to your work and UNMC fosters these interdepartmental collaborations. This is key to our success.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I enjoy going to national parks and other sites of historical interest with my family;
  • My wife Marian and I are very excited for another season of highly competitive Kansas City Royals baseball; and
  • I enjoy making pies, jelly and other desserts from my grandmother's recipes.

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