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Bret D. Freudenthal

Associate 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

Interests: Genome Maintenance: Elucidating how DNA damage is generated, processed and repaired using structural and biochemical approaches.

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

                         Freudenthal Lab Members:

Amy Whitaker, Ph.D. Fausto (Alex) Varela, Ph.D. Tyler Weaver, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow Postdoctoral Fellow Postdoctoral Fellow
A_Whitaker A_varela T_Weaver
Alexandra Machen, Ph.D. Mallory Smith, B.S. Matt Schaich, B.S., B.A.
Graduate Student Graduate Student Graduate Student
A_Machen M_Smith M_Schaich
Max Fairlamb, B.S. Nicole Ellis, B.S. Benjamin Ryan, B.S.
Graduate Student Graduate Student Graduate Student
Griffin Welfer, B.S. Wesley Stark Luis Cortez, B.S.
Graduate Student UG Student/PT Lab Tech PT Post-Baccalaurate
G_Welfer W_Stark
Kristen Khoang, B.S.
Laboratory Technician
K_Khoang .

Freudenthal Lab Events 






Freudenthal Lab News
• Nicole Hoitsma was awarded a 2020 Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association.
• Dr. Alex Varela receives a NIGMS Research Supplement Award to support his scientific career.
• Dr. Amy Whitaker was awarded 1st place in "Best Platform Presentation by a New Investigator" at the 2019 Environmental Genomics and Mutagenesis Society Meeting.
• Max Fairlamb was awarded 1st place in "Best Poster Presentation by a Student" at the 2019 Environmental Genomics and Mutagenesis Society Meeting.
• Matt Schaich was awarded 2nd place in "Best Platform Presentation by a Student" at the 2019 Environmental Genomics and Mutagenesis Society Meeting.
• Dr. Tyler Weaver receives 2019 Subramanian Thesis Award from University of Iowa shadowing the footsteps of Dr. Freudenthal nine years before him.
• Dr. Tyler Weaver won "1st Place Poster" award at the 2019 Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics (SBMB) Workshop.
• Matt Schaich was the 2019 Karen B. and Kelly D. Gregg Graduate Student Award recipient from the KUMC Cancer Biology department.
• Dr. Amy Whitaker, Dr. Tyler Weaver, Dr. Fausto (Alex) Varela, Alexandra Machen, Matt Schaich, Mallory Smith, Max Fairlamb, and Nicole Hoitsma all received travel awards to attend the 2019 Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS) meeting.
• Two new graduate students joined the lab, Benjamin Ryan and Griffin Welfer.
• The lab introduced two new talented postdoctoral fellows, Fausto (Alex) Varela and Tyler Weaver.
• Led by Max Fairlamb, we hosted 12 local students at the lab for a day to give them a taste of scientific research.
• Alexandra Machen received the distinguished Joe Kimmel Award from the KUMC Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department.
• Alex Machen, Nicole Hoitsma, and Mallory Smith won research presentation awards at the 2019 KUMC Student Research Forum.
• Dr. Amy Whitaker performed several outreach activities with the local American Cancer Society network.
• Mallory Smith was chosen to receive an ASBMB Travel Award AND present her abstract as a spotlight session talk during the annual Experimental Biology/ASBMB meeting.
• Nicole Hoitsma received a KUMC Biomedical Research Training Program (BRTP) Award.
• Matt Schaich was selected to present his research at the 2019 Gordon Research Seminar (GRS).
• Dr. Amy Whitaker surpassed her goals as organizer for the 2019 Gordon Research Seminar (GRS).
• Dr. Amy Whitaker was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Cancer Society (ACS)!
• A new post-baccalaureate and research technician joined the lab, Luis Cortez and Kristen Khoang.
• Dr. Amy Whitaker was nominated and elected as chair of the KUMC Postdoctoral Association.
• The Freudenthal Lab was awarded a Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (R35) from NIGMS!
• The NIEHS awarded the Freudenthal Lab its first R01!
• Dr. Amy Whitaker was selected to attend the 2018 Cold Spring Harbor Course: X-Ray Methods in Structural Biology, a competitive X-ray scattering course.
• Max Fairlamb and Nicole Hoitsma progressed into Ph.D. candidacy in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
• On Citizen Science Day, April 14, 2018, the Freudenthal lab participated in the annual March for Science in Kansas City, partially organized by Mallory Smith
• Mallory Smith was selected to go to Washington D.C. and speak with legislators via the 2018 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Hill Day.
• Max Fairlamb orchestrated a field trip for students from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School to demystify what a research lab is and also engage them in science activities.
• Nicole Hoitsma won the first place award for her oral presentation in platform G at the 2018 KUMC Student Research Forum.
• Mallory Smith was unanimously elected as the 2018 KUMC Graduate Student Council (GSC) President.
• Dr. Bret Freudenthal was invited to speak at the 6th EU-US Conference on Repair of Endogenous DNA Damage in Udine, Italy on "APE1 Cleavage Mechanisms during DNA Repair".
• Dr. Amy Whitaker was awarded the 2017 EMGS New Investigator Platform Award for her excellent oral presentation titled, "APE1 Cleavage Mechanisms during DNA Repair".
• Artwork created by Dr, Amy Whitaker and Max Fairlamb was featured in the Kansas City Area Life Science Institute (KCALSI) "Science to Art" exhibition.
• 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.

 Freudenthal Lab Events


Last modified: Jun 29, 2020


Bret D. Freudenthal
Associate Professor