Curtis Klaassen, PhD

Curtis Klaassen, PhD

A native Iowan(Fort Dodge), Dr. Curt Klaassen became interested in toxicology when an older brother studied pharmacy at Drake University. Arriving at the UI in 1964, he found “young, energetic faculty members who were serious about science and had high standards for themselves and their students.” When Dr. Klaassen considers that time, only one generation beyond the Great Depression, he recalls “the work ethic back then was different and generally life was more serious. Students would frequently work in labs until midnight, and “faculty would check to see how many students were still working.” In some cases, working at night was a practical matter; graduate students had to work in Dr. James Fouts’s laboratory at night because they couldn’t fit into the small space along with the technicians and post-docs for whom the daytime hours were reserved.

Previous education:

Biology (minor in Chemistry)
Wartburg College, Waverly, IA
The University of Iowa
Year of degree: 
Current research description: 

After receiving his PhD in 1968, Dr. Klaassen went to the Kansas University Medical Center, where he has devoted his career to investigating basic regulatory mechanisms in toxicology, specifically the role ligand-activated transcription factors play in regulating chemical elimination.

Awards and honors: 

Among the particular highlights of a distinguished 40-year career are Dr. Klaussen’s service as president of the Society of Toxicology (1990-1991) and the International Union of Toxicology (1992-1995) and as editor of Casarett and Doull's “Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons,” considered the premier textbook in the field. He has twice been named a “Highly Cited Researcher” (2002, 2007) by the Institute for Scientific Information, a designation held by less than one half of one percent of all researchers.

Counsel for current toxicology students: 
“Toxicology is an excellent area to go into given the wide diversity of things you can do. There are university jobs; a large need in industries—not only pharmaceutical and chemical—and regulatory agencies, even at the state level. It’s an excellent job market.”

Current position: 
University Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics
Current employer/institution: 
Kansas University Medical Center