Kurt Piepenbrink

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Assistant Professor Food Science and Technology kpiepenbrink2@unl.edu 402-472-6753 262 Food Innovation Center
Research Strengths
Bioinformatics, Biomedical Research, Structural Biology

The overall goal for our research program is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which bacteria interact with their surroundings, including host cells, other bacteria, abiotic surfaces and extracellular structures. Our current focus is on type IV filaments, a class of extracellular appendages common to a wide range of bacteria, which we study through a combination of integrated structural biology, biochemical characterization of their protein subunits and manipulation of bacterial genetics.


  • BA, The Johns Hopkins University, 2005
  • Ph D, The University of Notre Dame, 2011


  • Microcolony Formation, DHHS-NIAID, June 2017
  • Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Bacterial Persistence, Internal, July 2018


  • The structure of PilA from Acinetobacter baumannii AB5075 suggests a mechanism for functional specialization in Acinetobacter type IV pili., The Journal of biological chemistry, January (1st Quarter/Winter) 2019
  • DNA Uptake by Type IV Filaments, DNA Uptake by Type IV Filaments, February 2019
  • Motility and adhesion through type IV pili in Gram-positive bacteria., Biochemical Society transactions, December 2016
  • Structural Diversity in the Type IV Pili of Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter., The Journal of biological chemistry, October (4th Quarter/Autumn) 2016
  • Type IV pili promote early biofilm formation by Clostridium difficile., Pathogens and disease, August 2016
  • Structural and evolutionary analyses show unique stabilization strategies in the type IV pili of Clostridium difficile., Structure (London, England : 1993), February 2015
  • Structure of Clostridium difficile PilJ exhibits unprecedented divergence from known type IV pilins., The Journal of biological chemistry, February 2014