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Brian Patrick Higgins, PhD


Office: (859) 257-9020
Office: MS 401 Medical Science Bldg.


  • Associate Professor
  • Microbiology Discipline Coordinator

College Unit(s)

Biography and Education


Dr. Brian Higgins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He also serves as the Microbiology discipline coordinator, the Course Director for Musculoskeletal and Integumentary (MD818), and a co-course director for Foundations of Infection, Immunity, and Therapeutics (MD810) and Multidiscipline and Integrative Medicine (MD829) in the College of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics with high honors from the University of Maryland, a PhD in microbiology from the University of Georgia, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University studying programmed DNA rearrangements in ciliates. His research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Prior to joining the UK COM in 2014, Dr. Higgins was an Assistant Professor at the new GRU/UGA Medical Partnership in Athens, GA, where he helped design an integrated, systems-based curriculum. It was here that he developed a passion for medical education and curriculum development, and quickly recognized the need for alternative learning strategies in medical education. In 2013 he implemented a flipped-classroom approach for the entire microbiology curriculum, and was named Educator of the Year by the students that same year. The Medical College of Georgia also presented Dr. Higgins with the Exemplary Teaching Award for Excellence in Medical Education across all campuses. Dr. Higgins also serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Since arriving at UK, Dr. Higgins has worked with both basic science and clinical faculty to coordinate the materials being presented to the students. He has also delivered a “Calibrate” session in the UK College of Pharmacy and Grand Rounds in the UK OB/GYN department, both with a focus on flipping the classroom and other alternative learning strategies. He has been awarded College of Medicine Abraham Flexner Master Educator Awards in the areas of Teaching, Leadership, Curriculum Development, and Innovation. In 2021 Dr. Higgins was selected to participate in the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Health Educators (…) Dr. Higgins TEDxUKY Talk, "Stop Wasting Everyone's Time in the Classroom" can be viewed here:

Selected Publications

Swart, E.C., Nowacki, M., Shum, J., Stiles, H., Higgins, B.P., Doak, T.G., Schotanus, Landweber, L.F. 2012. The Oxytricha trifallax mitochondrial genome. Genome Biology and Evolution, 4: 136-154. 

Zoller, S.D., Hammersmith, R.L., Swart, E.C., Higgins, B.P., Doak, T.G., Herrick, G., and Landweber, L.F. 2012. Characterization and taxonomic validity of the ciliate Oxytricha trifallax (Class Spirotrichea) based on multiple gene sequences: Limitations in identifying genera by morphology. Protist. 163: 643-657 

Wurzburger, N., Higgins, B.P., and Hendrick, R.L. 2012. Ericoid mycorrhizal root fungi and their multicopper oxdiases from a temperate forest shrub. Ecology and Evolution. 2: 65-79 

Higgins, B.P., Popkowski, A.C., Caruana, P.R., and Karls, A.C. 2009. Site-specific insertion of IS492 in Pseudoalteromonas atlantica. Journal of Bacteriology. 191: 6408-6414. 

Liu, A. Z., Samils, N., Higgins, B.P., Stenlid, J., Slippers, B., Nairn, C.J., and Covert, S.F. 2009. Microsatellite markers for the wood decay fungus Phlebiopsis gigantea. Conservation Genetics. 10: 1529-1532. 

Nowacki, M., Higgins, B.P., Maquilan, G.M., Swart, E.C., Doak, T.G., and Landweber, L.F. 2009. A functional role for transposases in a large eukaryotic genome. Science. 324:935-8. 

Möllenbeck, M., Zhou, Y., Cavalcanti, A.R., Jönsson, F., Higgins, B.P., Chang, W.J., Juranek, S., Doak, T.G., Rozenberg, G., Lipps, H.J., and Landweber, L.F. 2008. The pathway to detangle a scrambled gene. PLoS ONE. 3: e2330. 

Higgins, B.P., Carpenter, C., and Karls, A.C. 2007. Chromosomal context directs IS492 high frequency precise excision controlling EPS phase variation in Pseudoalteromonas atlantica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104: 1901-1906.