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In Memoriam Walter Dobrogosz

Microbiology has played a significant and enduring role in the history of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Walter Dobrogosz’s pivotal involvement commenced in 1962 when he joined the Department of Botany and Bacteriology. In 1964, the Department of Microbiology was formally established, drawing its core faculty from the Department of Botany and Bacteriology, including esteemed individuals such as Drs. Dobrogosz, Elkan, Evans, and Perry. Additionally, this department benefited from the invaluable contributions of associate members across various college departments, thereby fostering and solidifying noteworthy interdisciplinary collaborations.

Throughout the years, Dobrogosz actively cultivated a robust research and teaching program with a specific focus on microbial metabolism and microbial physiology. His endeavors garnered significant support from prestigious entities such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Notably, Dobrogosz held the distinction of being the last original member of the Department of Microbiology to retire. Even after embarking on partial retirement in 1999, he continued to passionately impart knowledge to students for several years until his complete retirement in 2003.

Dobrogosz was not only a dedicated academic but also an entrepreneurial trailblazer, making substantial contributions to our comprehension of the role of microorganisms in human health and well-being. At a time when skepticism surrounded microbial probiotics within the scientific and medical communities, his research laid crucial foundations that ultimately led to groundbreaking discoveries. One particularly noteworthy achievement was his discovery of the production of potent antimicrobial compounds known as Reuterin. Lactobacillus reuteri became his chosen microbe, and the lasting influence of his work continues to shape our understanding today.

In addition to his prominent academic career, Dobrogosz secured patents for the commercialization of L. reuteri, resulting in the founding of Probiologics International in 1987. Subsequently, the company underwent acquisition by public investors and a renaming to BioGaia. Presently, BioGaia offers a range of food products that bring the benefits of probiotics to our daily diet.

Dobrogosz/Biogaia Biologics Graduate Fund For Excellence Endowment

This endowment was created to honor Dobrogosz’s many contributions to NC State and microbial research. The endowment is made possible by Biogaia Biologics, Inc., as well as generous donations from alumni and friends. It directly benefits the Microbiology Graduate Programs at NC State.

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