Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-ReedAssociate Professor of Chemistry
Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-Reed is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. She joined the Hope faculty in 2016. Her main research interest is studying biochemical mechanisms that control mitochondrial function. She teaches biochemistry courses, organic chemistry laboratory and introduction to biological chemistry.
AREAS OF INTEREST
- Understanding mitochondrial function in human health and disease
- Mechanisms of control of mitochondrial DNA transcription
The long-term aim of the Dittenhafer-Reed lab is to study fundamental biochemical processes occurring in the mitochondria, a specialized compartment within cells. The mitochondria are often considered the powerhouse of the cell, converting nutrients from the food we eat into the chemical energy currency required to carry out all cellular functions. Mitochondrial dysfunction, analogous to batteries losing their charge, can result in a myriad of human diseases. The Dittenhafer-Reed lab aims to employ biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology approaches to explore how processes within the mitochondria work in a healthy context to enable avenues for the treatment of conditions caused when mitochondria are not functioning properly.
More specifically, the Dittenhafer-Reed lab focuses on understanding the regulation of the expression of mitochondrial genes. Interestingly, mammalian cells contain genetic information (DNA) in two compartments, the nucleus and the mitochondria. These DNA molecules are a blueprint, carrying the instructions required for our cells to function. Through the process of transcription, genes, or specific pieces of the blueprint, are read and used to make proteins. These proteins are the machines that facilitate the billions of chemical reactions that occur each second in living organisms. Mitochondrial DNA carries the instructions to make some of the protein machinery required for energy production. The goal of this research is to investigate how the expression of mitochondrial DNA is regulated and how the mitochondria and nucleus communicate, specifically to meet varying energetic demands of a cell.
- Postdoctoral fellow, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Van Andel Research Institute, 2014–2016
- Ph.D. biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
- B.S. chemistry, Hope College, 2009
HONORS, GRANTS, & AWARDS
- National Science Foundation RUI (Research at Undergraduate Institutions) Grant, 2018–2021
- Towsley Research Scholar, 2019
- Hope College 10 under 10 Alumni Award, 2019
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Faculty Travel Grant, 2019
- “The Genomic Landscape of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex,” Nature Communications, 8, 15816, 2017
- “Kinetic and structural analysis of acyl-group selectively provides insight into Sirtuin catalyzed deacylation,” Biochemistry, 54 (19), 2015
- “SIRT3 mediates multi-tissue coupling for metabolic fuel switching,” Cell Metabolism, 21 (4), 2015
- “Quantification of mitochondrial acetylation dynamics highlights prominent sites of metabolic regulation,” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 36, 2013
- “Calorie restriction and SIRT3 trigger global reprogramming of the mitochondrial acetylome,” Molecular Cell, 49, 2013
Outside the College
Kristin enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking and running.