Todd Robert Klaenhammer

October 30, 1951March 6, 2021

Todd R. Klaenhammer passed away on March 6th, 2021 at age 69 after his health unexpectedly and rapidly deteriorated over the 2 weeks prior. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Amy and daughter, Ellen, and many dear friends who were part of his family. He was born in St. Paul, MN in 1951. He received a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota in 1973, followed by Masters and Doctoral degree, also at the University of Minnesota.

Todd’s 38-year career started when he joined North Carolina State University as an assistant professor in 1978 at the age of 26. He excelled in the field of genetics of lactic acid bacteria, with numerous research and teaching awards. Of special importance was his election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2001. Later, he also received the O. Max Gardner award, given to one researcher in the NCSU system “who has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

He exhibited a “work hard, play hard” ethic, with profound dedication to his work, with special interest and excitement when he was able to help young scientists succeed. He and his wife Amy, married 48 years, had a wonderful life together with many exciting and challenging events. Together with the assistance of many friends, he and Amy built a log cabin on Mayo Lake, NC. They raised and trained a total of 7 hunting Golden Retrievers, who religiously fetched the paper every morning and helped carry logs into the house for firewood. Todd could do well at nearly everything that he tried – he was involved in many sports and activities, including softball, racquetball, downhill skiing, water skiing, as well as fishing and hunting. He was perfecting his game of golf after retirement from NCSU. He was a wonderful father & inspiration to his daughter, Ellen, who was born in 1986, and is currently a practicing Physician Assistant in cardiology in Wilmington, NC.

Amy and Ellen have requested that in lieu of flowers or gifts, consideration be given to making a gift to the Todd R. and Amy E. Klaenhammer Endowment (


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Todd Robert Klaenhammer

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pablo Ruiz Pesce

May 22, 2021

I have briefly met Todd & Amy years ago, when I was just 11 years old. I'm 47 yers old now. My name is Pablo and I'm from Argentina.

They had travelled to Tucumán, Argentina to visit CERELA (reference center for lactobacilli). My mother: Aída Pesce de Ruiz Holgado was the Director of CERELA at that time. It was sept 1985. My mother had invited him as part of a foreing cientific interchange program.

I'm sad knowing that Todd has passed away, but at the same time I feel some comfort knowing that I had the pleasure to met these nice couple when I was a kid.

Let me share with you a picture of that travel, when we had the opportunity to show Todd and Amy some of our beautiful landscapes.

I'd love to be in contact with you Amy whenever you think is appropriate.
My email:


Jim Versalovic

May 14, 2021

Todd was a great colleague and friend. He was so generous with his time and energy. I will never forget when I asked him if I could get an invitation to attend my first ISAPP meeting after his talk at the annual ASM meeting. He never hesitated to offer his support.

I benefited greatly from Todd's leadership at ISAPP and his passion for lactobacilli. Beyond the science, he was always kind and willing to share ideas, perspectives and laughter at meetings. The world of microbiology will miss you dearly, Todd.

Roger Clemens

May 12, 2021

Todd...was a valued friend and treasured colleague. It seems only yesterday that we collaborated in probiotic research when it was not in vogue. I remember lecturing on the NCSU campus as a guest professor during Easter many years ago. Amy and Todd shared their lovely home and provided an exceptional Easter dinner. Ellen had just been accepted to NCSU, if I recall correctly. Those were wonderful days...and memorable times.

Leann Barden

March 30, 2021

Dr. Klaenhammer was one of the best professors I've ever had. His humor, coupled with my fear of his system of using notecards to randomly call on students, prompted me to study harder and learn more than I did from many classes. What's more, he was a wonderful person who wanted students to succeed. After graduating NCSU, I interned at the Institute of Medicine and put together a workshop on the microbiome. Dr. Klaenhammer went out of his way to make sure I had all the best scientists for speakers. I will miss him and give my condolences to his family and friends.

Rich Styles

March 21, 2021

For many years Todd and I played R’ball on a weekly basis. He amazed me with his scheduling talents of who he played every night. I got Monday. Faithfully we would play and I would listen to his stories of travel and the people he met along the way. I traveled with him thru his stories. A fierce competitor. At times we would play Rball at his home court at NCSU. He invited me to one of his many awards ceremonies at NCSU. We had a love for goldens and got our dogs together which resulted in Todd getting the pick of the litter. We always talked about his love for his dogs. He loved his family. He is missed by many and is scheduling more Rball and golf games on the best courts and courses. Miss you

Bill Luken

March 19, 2021

Dear Amy and Ellen,

Very sorry to hear about Todd's passing. I enjoyed playing racquetball with Todd. He was a very competitive and honest player of the game. I will hold those great memories forever and truly miss his friendship and openness. He was a man of the world for his commitment to humanity. His friends at Kildaire Farms Racquetball Club are already missing him.

My deepest sympathies, Bill.

Glenn Gibson

March 18, 2021

Such devastating news, we have lost a pioneer of the research field but also one of the nicest persons ever. I will always cherish his friendship and those squash/racquetball games. Huge condolences to the family.

Mitch and Laurie Davis

March 17, 2021

Dear Amy and Ellen, our deepest sympathies on the passing of Todd. We both had the pleasure of working closely with Todd through each of our time on the Operational Advisory Committee on the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center which Todd led for several years. We enjoyed working with and getting to know him well and got to visit the lake once too. We were thrilled when Todd came pheasant hunting with us in South Dakota as well. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our deepest sympathy.
Mitch and Laurie Davis

Caitlin Trahan

March 15, 2021

Dear Amy & Ellen,
Todd has been such a foundation to the way I work and the appreciation I have for the leaders behind the science. I feel so lucky to have been in his lab with the group he created. The times I had with him continue to bring me joy. My heart goes out to you.


Barbara Sherry

March 15, 2021

I first met Todd when I was a new Assistant Professor getting more involved in university-wide scientific initiatives. He was friendly, supportive, and always had good advice, despite my being in a different college and in a different field. Over the years I had the pleasure of working with him more closely, both on large initiatives and on small student graduate advisory committees. Todd always brought his whole self to everything he touched. He considered every interaction an important one and always showed his commitment. The impact, not only on those individual events but also in showing how we can and should behave, was enormous. I count myself among the many who learned from Todd how to lift myself higher. Rest in peace, Todd; your legacy will live on.