Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-Reed

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
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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.

See Dr. Dittenhafer-Reed's current research 

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.

EDUCATION

  • 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

Published Works

See Dr. Dittenhafer-Reed’s published works .

Outside the College

Kristin enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking and running.

Profile photo of Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-Reed
Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-Reed

Phone Number616.395.6818

A. Paul Schaap Science Center 35 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423
A map showing the location for Dr. Kristin Dittenhafer-Reed A. Paul Schaap Science Center 35 East 12th Street Holland MI 49423