headshot photo of Dr. Michael Ibba

Dr. Michael Ibba

Professor, Dean of Schmid College of Science and Technology
Schmid College of Science and Technology; Biological Sciences
Office Location: Keck Center for Science and Engineering 143
Phone: (714) 516-5235
Scholarly Works:
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Dr. Michael Ibba is the new Dean of Schmid College. Prior to joining Chapman, he was the Chair of the Microbiology Department and served as the Associate Director for the Infectious Disease Institute at The Ohio State University, where he taught for 19 years.

He has published over 190 research articles and currently holds four research grants. Dr. Ibba has received several awards and distinctions. Notably, in 2019 he received the Distinguished Scholar Award at The Ohio State University and in 2017 and 2020 received the Faculty Award for Diversity Enhancement in the College of Arts and Sciences.

He serves as a member of the National Science Foundation Federal Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences (BIO-AC) and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Ibba's research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms that determine how cells ensure the accurate translation of the genetic code, and how changes in the underlying processes impact cellular health and contribute to microbial pathogenesis and disease. Many of these processes are essential and unique to particular systems, making them ideal potential drug targets.

Quality control in protein synthesis

Ribosomes are the protein synthesis factories of the cell that translate the codons of mRNA into amino acids. Protein synthesis proceeds by delivery to the ribosome of aminoacyl-tRNAs, which pair with the corresponding mRNA sequences. Aminoacyl-tRNAs are made by the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, a family of twenty proteins each of which pairs a particular amino acid with the correct tRNA. Accurate aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis often requires an additional editing activity intrinsic to many aaRSs. The editing activity significantly decreases the level of mistakes in aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis in vitro and in vivo, although quantitative analysis of its contribution to the overall fidelity of translation has not been performed. The overall aim of Dr. Ibba's research is to develop experimental systems to quantitatively measure the frequency of aaRS-dependent misincorporation for several amino acids and evaluate the contribution of aaRS editing to overall translational fidelity in vivo.

Translational control of antibiotic resistance

In responses to different environmental stresses, such as the presence of antibiotics, microbes direct resources away from translation to a variety of pathways that contribute to resistance. Elongation factor P (EF-P). EF-P is a protein that mimics the structure and function of a tRNA and binds ribosomes. Aminoacylatio
n of EF-P is required for optimal growth under a variety of conditions, for example at key points during Salmonella infection. Dr. Ibba's research team is interested in understanding how EF-P mimics tRNA at the molecular level and how this provides a novel mechanism for the post-transcriptional control of gene expression.