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Bernard Friedenson

Bernard Friedenson

University of Illinois at Chicago



Bernard Friedenson is a PhD research scientist with nearly 60 publications. He received an NIH research career development award and recently won an Innocentive Award in competition with nearly 400 other scientists. After a B.A. in honors chemistry-mathematics at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a PhD in biochemistry-organic chemistry at the University of Minnesota, he did post-doctoral work at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, where he rose to senior cancer research scientist, specializing in immunology. As a faculty member at the University of Illinois Chicago, he acquired 13 years further training in medical sciences, molecular medicine and genomics.


B.F’s recent work found evidence that hereditary breast cancer gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase risks in other organs beyond breast and ovary. Nonetheless he showed these mutations do not make breast or any other cancer inevitable. Instead BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations increase susceptibility to carcinogens, especially those capable of causing complex DNA damage. For example, mutation carriers may be unduly sensitive to alcohol and acetaldehyde carcinogens. However hidden alcohol and acetaldehyde are widespread in foods and confound epidemiologic studies trying to demonstrate this increased risk. B.F. showed that differential exposure of organs to carcinogens plays a major role in which organ develops cancer. B.F.’s background in immunology enabled his recent finding that acquired mutations may cause defects in the ability of breast cancers to respond to microbial infection. This deficit may underlie breast cancer and even help target breast and ovary for BRCA1 and BRCA2 related cancers. B.F. is a member of the editorial board of BMC Research Notes, a reviewer for multiple other journals and has recently chaired sessions at an international cancer meeting.