Walter Klimecki, DVM, PhD

Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Interim Department Head, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Associate Head, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Assistant Professor, Public Health
Assistant Professor, Medicine - (Research Scholar Track)
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Adjunct Associate Professor, Nursing
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-7470
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Klimecki's research over the years has focused on the study of a carcinogenic environmental toxicant, arsenic.  He has contributed both to an understanding of its carcinogenic mechanism of action, as well as human population-level determinants of individual variability in susceptibility to arsenic toxicity. The publications from human studies that he has led directly speak to the importance of his membership in the Arizona Cancer Center.  His work has defined both genetic and non-genetic determinants of “safe” and “risky” metabolism phenotypes in arsenic-exposed human populations.  These metabolic phenotypes have been repeatedly shown in epidemiology studies to impact cancer risk resulting from arsenic exposure.  

Dr. Klimecki's laboratory also studies the mechanistic underpinnings of arsenic carcinogenesis. His research group has recently published a seminal observation describing the ability of non-cytotoxic concentrations of arsenic to impair mitochondrial energy production, and alter fundamental cellular metabolism.  They went on to relate this induction of the Warburg effect to the ability of arsenic to effect malignant transformation of lung epithelial cells.  Their work depended on active collaborations with Cancer Center members (Bernard Futscher), as well as Cancer Center core facilities.  In the true spirit of Center programs, Dr. Klimecki's work benefits, and benefits from, the synergy created under the umbrella of the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Biology
Member Status: 
Research Member
Year of Membership Acceptance: 
Selected Publications: 
Collaborative Research: 
1R25 ES025494-01                            (Klimecki, PI)                                                                           04/02/15 – 03/31/20   
Environmental Health Transformative Undergraduate Experience (E-H-TRUE)
The goal of this NIH research education program proposal is to provide undergraduate research education and training in the environmental health sciences to 40 undergraduates coming from backgrounds under- represented in the sciences.
5R03 ES023921                                  (Klimecki, PI)                                                                           05/19/14 –04/30/16    
Arsenic carcinogenicity: Metabolic Disruption Leads to loss of PTEN function
The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that arsenic carcinogenicity is the result of a disturbance in glucose metabolism that inactivates the tumor suppressor gene, PTEN.
5P42 ES004940                                  (Maier,PI)                                                                                 04/01/15 – 09/29/17               
Hazardous Waste Risk and Remediation in the Southwest                                       
Project 3: Arsenic-induced Pseudohypoxia Drives Malignant Transformation in Lung Cancer  
The goal of this Superfund component project is to define the role of hypoxia signaling in arsenic-induced malignant transformation.
Role: Project PI
5P30 ES06694                                    (Lau, PI)                                                                                   04/01/12 – 03/31/17               
Southwest Environmental Health Sciences                                                                          
Integrative Health Sciences Core
The goal of this core is to provide support services for investigators engaged in translational research related to potentially harmful environmental toxicant exposures. Dr. Klimecki co-directs a core facility focused on supporting translational research.
Role: Core Co-Director
CHE-1339597                                    (Pemberton, PI)                                                                        09/15/13 – 08/31/17   
NSMDS: Molecular Design, Synthesis and Characterization of Green Glycolipid Surfactants
The goal of this grant is to synthesize a series of glycolipid surfactants based on rhamnolipid.  Dr. Klimecki’s role is to characterize basic cytotoxicity of these analogs.
ABRC 91005                                       (Kimecki, PI)                                                                            07/01/11-06/30/13
Arizona Biomedical Research Commission
The Unfolded Protein Response: Mechanism of Inorganic Arsenic Resistance
This grant was focused on identifying the contribution of the unfolded protein response to differential susceptibility to arsenic cytotoxicity in human lymphoblastoid cell lines as a model of population-level individual susceptibility.

Professional Information

Positions and Honors: 
2015-Present   Department Head (Interim), Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Arizona
2013-Present   Associate Department Head, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Arizona
2012-Present   Associate Professor of Pharmacology/Toxicology, University of Arizona
2008-Present   Co-Director: Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core, Southwest Environmental Health  Sciences Center, University of Arizona
2006-Present   Professor of Pharmacology/Toxicology, University of Arizona
2004-Present   Research Assistant Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine, Univ. of Arizona
2000-Present   Associate Research Scientist, Arizona Respiratory Center, University of Arizona
1997-2000      Section Manager, Genotyping Assays, Motorola Biosciences, Phoenix, Arizona
Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
Member        Society of Toxicology, Vice President, Metals Specialty Section
Member        Mountain West Regional Society of Toxicology
Member        International Society of Environmental Epidemiology
2015             NIH Special Emphasis Panel (P50 in Health Disparities) ZRG1 HDM S 50
2015             NCI Special Emphasis Panel (XCA1-SRB-L (J1)
2010             Scientific Organizing Committee, “Arsenic 2010” Biennial Meeting, Tainan City, Taiwan
2009             NIH Study Section Member, ZAT1 SM
2008             NIH Special Emphasis Panel for RFA-HL-08-008
2007, 2008   NIH Study Section Member, ZAT1 SM
2005             NIH Study Section Member, ZRG1-CFS
2002, 2005   Study Section, Genome Canada
1999-2005    NIH Study Section Member, ZRG1-SSS-L, (SBIR,STTR, Drug Development)
1994-1996    NRSA Post-doctoral fellowship, National Cancer Institute, NIH

Academic Information

Post Doctoral: 
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Medical School: 
DVM, Ohio State University
Undergraduate School: 
Ohio State University