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Distinguished scientist: Peter Iwen, Ph.D.

Image with caption: Peter Iwen, Ph.D.

Peter Iwen, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2018 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award recipients.

The Distinguished Scientist Award

The Distinguished Scientist Award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

  • Name: Peter Iwen, Ph.D.
  • Title: Professor, UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology; director, Nebraska Public Health Laboratory; campus senior biosafety officer
  • Joined UNMC: October 1978
  • Hometown: Arthur, N.D. (small farming community northwest of Fargo, population 350)

Research focus:
Diagnostic Microbiology

The goal of my research is: To develop and optimize assays for the identification of microbial pathogens with an emphasis on fungi and bacteria. Original work in my laboratory showed that the internal transcribe spacer region within the rDNA complex was a useful target for the identification of both the common and uncommon fungal and mycobacterial species. This region has now been recognized as a bar code for identification and has led in part to the identification of three new microbial species, Mycobacterium nebraskense, M. talmoniae, and Philosimplex canis. More recently, my colleagues and I have been involved in the development of protocols for laboratorians to use on how to safely test specimens that might contain a high consequence pathogen. These protocols are currently being shared with multiple U.S. laboratorians through the National Ebola Training and Education Center workshops.

My research will make a difference: By offering new options to enhanced diagnostics to provide a fast and reliable result for optimal patient management.

The best advice I've ever been given is: "Your reaction to adversity defines who you are as a person."

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • My wife and I have been married for over 41 years and have reared four successful young adults.
  • I have walked more than 45,000 miles from my home to work and back since starting at UNMC.
  • I financed part of my undergraduate education employed as a subsurface engineer (i.e. grave digger).

Ceremony March 5

A campus ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. March 5 in the Durham Research Center Auditorium to recognize the scientist laureate, research leadership awardee, distinguished scientists and new investigators, as well as the winners of the Community Service to Research Award. A reception will follow.

Honorees include:
Scientist Laureate

  • Robert Lewis, Ph.D., Eppley Institute

Research Leadership

  • Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D., College of Public Health

Distinguished Scientists

New Investigators

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