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Bret D. Freudenthal

Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, 2004
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, 2010
National Institutes of Environmental Health, National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2015

Publications: Click here


2016 EMGS Young Scientist Award - See the entry video here

Laboratory of Genome Maintenance and Structural Biology  

The cellular genome is continually exposed to hazards that damage the DNA and reduce its stability; promoting deleterious human health outcomes. Importantly, multiple enzymes involved in maintaining genomic stability are deregulated or mutated in cancer cells. While a general connection between DNA damage and human health has been established, it remains unclear how genome stability is altered at the molecular level. In this sense, the "devil is truly in the details" and gaining mechanistic insight is essential. 

The overarching goal of the lab is to fill the knowledge gap between DNA damage and human disease in hopes of beneficially impacting the treatment and/or prevention of human ailments. We are particularly interested in oxidative DNA damage because the basis of multiple human afflictions are rooted in oxidative stress. A primary defense mechanism employed during the repair of oxidative DNA damage is Base Excision Repair (BER). BER involves the removal of the damaged base and subsequent processing by a multi-protein complex that protects the cell from toxic DNA intermediates.

Major Research Goals within the Lab include:

1)     Elucidating how DNA damage is generated, processed, and repaired
2)     Identifying DNA polymerase strategies during replication and repair
3)     Determine how large multi-protein complexes channel and protect toxic DNA intermediates during DNA damage processing
4)     Utilize creative structural techniques to probe key biological questions
5)     Develop approaches to manipulate the DNA damage response to treat and pevent deleterious human diseases

Lab Scientific Approach:

The lab utilizes a reductionist approach to investigate complex biological questions. This approach includes structural (x-ray and neutron), biochemical, kinetic, and molecular biology assays. The workhorse of the lab is x-ray crystallography. We have an in-house Rigaku MicroMax-007 HF rotating anode equipped with a Pilatus 200K detector that is utilized for the collection of publication quality macromolecular x-ray crystallographic data sets. We combine our multi-disciplinary approach with cellular collaborations to validate structure-function models.

Protein Crystals and Molecular Snapshots - The Art of  Science  

Freudenthal Lab Members: 

Amy Whitaker

Matt Schaich

Mallory Smith

Postdoctoral Fellow

Graduate Student

Graduate Student




Nicole Ellis

Max Fairlamb

Graduate Student

Graduate Student

Freudenthal Lab Events 






Freudenthal Lab News

•·        Dr. Bret Freudenthal was awarded instructor of the year by popular vote from the 2016-2017 IGPBS class.

•·        Nicole Ellis was recognized for being the top student in her class and was awarded student of the year, which is voted on by the IGPBS faculty and IGPBS advisory board.

•·        Mallory Smith and Matt Schaich received travel awards from KUMC Graduate Studies to attend the Environmental Mutagenesis & Genomics Society (EMGS) 48th Annual Meeting.

•·        The entire lab attended the annual SBMB workshop at University of Nebraska Medical Center.

•·        Dr. Amy Whitaker and Mallory Smith received travel awards from the Environmental Mutagenesis & Genomics Society (EMGS) to attend their 48th Annual Meeting.

•·        Max Fairlamb has received the University of Kansas' prestigious Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship during the 2016-2017 academic year.

•·        Matt Schaich and Mallory Smith progressed into Ph.D. candidacy in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

•·        On Earth day, April 22, 2017, the Freudenthal lab participated in the March for Science in Kansas City.

•·        Dr. Amy Whitaker received the 2nd place award for her oral presentation at the 8th Annual KUMC Resident, Postdoc and Fellow Research Forum.

•·        Dr. Amy Whitaker represented the lab at the 2017 Mammalian DNA repair Gordon Research Conference.

•·        Dr. Amy Whitaker was selected to present as a trainee speaker, and she was awarded the second place travel award in the poster competition at the annual KUCC research symposium.

•·        Dr. Bret Freudenthal is the winner of the First 2016 Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society Young Scientist Award and was able to present a plenary lecture at the 2016 annual meeting!

•·        Dr. Bret Freudenthal presented research at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

•·        Dr. Amy Whitaker awarded travel and participation for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 7th annual workshop on neutron scattering applications in structural biology.

•·        Tony Flynn was recognized as a Top Poster Presenter at the University of Saint Mary's Science and Math Undergraduate Research Forum for his structural studies of a polymorphism associated with cancer.

•·        ​ Matt Schaich received the University of Kansas' prestigious Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship during the 2015-2016 academic year.



Last modified: Sep 28, 2018


Bret D. Freudenthal
Assistant Professor