Alexander N. Freiberg, PhD

Alexander N. Freiberg, PhD
Associate Professor

Department of Pathology
Director, Robert E. Shope BSL-4 Laboratory
Member, Center for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases
Member, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development
Phone: (409) 772-2882
Lab: (409) 772-2884

Alexander N. Freiberg, PhD

  • One main research interest is in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which emerging RNA viruses cause encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever diseases. We are characterizing the host innate immune response and activation of cellular signaling pathways following viral infection, with a major interest on infections caused by Nipah and Hendra viruses, Tick-borne encephalitis viruses, as well as Rift Valley fever virus. The goal is to better understand the role that the host cell-mediated immune response may play in development of encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever diseases. These studies are being performed in BSL-2, BSL-3E and BSL-4 containment facilities.

    In addition, another project focuses on understanding the structure and assembly of high-containment classified viruses, with a major focus on bunyaviruses using cryo-electron microscopy and biophysical techniques. We have determined the three-dimensional structure of Rift Valley fever virus, and are analyzing the arrangement and interaction of the two viral glycoproteins within the virus particle. This information can be utilized to develop structure-based vaccines and antivirals.

    In collaboration with partners in academia and in biotechnology, we are also working on the identification and characterization of broad spectrum antivirals and on testing novel vaccine platforms against Filo-, Bunya-, Henipa-, Arena- and Flaviviruses.

  • Diploma University of Potsdam, Germany Biochemistry 2000
    PhD University of Potsdam, Germany Physical Biochemistry 2005
    Postdoctoral Fellow University of Texas Medical Branch, TX Arbovirology, Structural Virology 2005-2009
  • 2006 James W. McLaughlin Postdoctoral Travel award
    2006 Dept. of Pathology Trainee Research Session: Postdoctoral Fellow Award for Molecular/Cell Biology Research
    2006 Postdoctoral Fellow Travel Award, American Society for Virology
    2006-2008, 2009 W.M. Keck Center for Virus Imaging Postdoctoral Training Fellowship
    2007 Dept. of Pathology Trainee Research Session: Postdoctoral Fellow Award for Molecular/Cell Biology Research
    2008 Dept. of Pathology Trainee Research Session: Postdoctoral Fellow Award for Molecular/Cell Biology Research
    2009 James W. McLaughlin Postdoctoral Travel award
    2009 SCSB Postdoctoral Fellow Honorable Mention
    2009 Pathologic/Clinical/Applied/Epidemiological Research
  • 1997-2008 German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    2005-present American Society of Virology
    2007-present Microscopy Society of American
    2010-present American Society of Microbiology
    1. Freiberg A, Morona R, Van den Bosch L, Jung C, Behlke J, Carlin N, Seckler R, Baxa U. (2003). The tailspike protein of Shigella Phage Sf6 - A structural homolog of Salmonella Phage P22 tailspike protein without sequence similarity in the β-helix domain. J Biol Chem 278:1542-1548.
    2. Freiberg A, Machner MP, Pfeil W, Schubert WD, Heinz DW, Seckler R. (2004). Folding and stability of the leucine-rich repeat domain of internalin B from Listeria monocytogenes. J Mol Biol 337: 453-461.
    3. Freiberg AN, Dolores LK, Enterlein S, Flick R. (2008). Establishment and characterization of plasmid-driven minigenome rescue systems for Nipah virus: RNA Polymerase I- and T7-catalyzed generation of functional paramyxoviral RNA. Virology 370: 33-44.
    4. Müller JJ, Barbirz S, Heinle K, Freiberg A, Seckler R, Heinemann U. (2008). An intersubunit active site between supercoiled parallel β-helices in the trimeric tailspike endorhamnosidase of Shigella flexneri phage Sf6. Structure 16: 766-775.
    5. Saeed MF, Kolokoltsov AA, Freiberg AN, Cantley LC, Holbrook MR, Davey RA. (2008). Phosphoinositide-3 kinase-Akt pathway plays a vital role in cellular entry of Ebola virus. PLOS Pathog 4(8): e1000141.
    6. Freiberg AN*, Sherman MB*, Holbrook MR, Watowich SJ. (2008). Three-dimensional organization of Rift Valley fever virus revealed by cryo-electron tomography. *contributed equally. J Virol 82(21): 10341-10348.
    7. Barbirz S, Becker M, Freiberg A, Seckler R. (2009). Phage tailspike proteins with β-solenoid fold as thermostable carbohydrate binding materials. Macromolecular Bioscience 9(2): 169-173.
    8. Sherman MB*, Freiberg AN*, Holbrook MR, Watowich SJ. (2009). Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy of Rift Valley fever virus. *contributed equally. Virology 387(1): 11-15.
    9. Wolf MC, Wang Y, Freiberg AN, Aguilar HC, Holbrook MR, Lee B. (2009). A catalytically and genetically optimized β-lactamase-matrix based assay for sensitive, specific, and higher throughput analysis of native henipavirus entry characteristics. Virology J 6(1): 119.
    10. Kolokoltsov AA, Saeed MF, Freiberg AN, Holbrook MR, Davey RA. (2009). Identification of novel cellular targets for therapeutic intervention against Ebola virus infection. Drug Development Research 70(4): 255-265.
    11. Freiberg AN, Worthy M, Lee B, Holbrook MR. (2010). Combinatorial chloroquine and ribavirin treatment does not prevent death in a hamster model of Nipah and Hendra virus infection. J Gen Virol 91(3):765-772.
    12. Mandell RB, Koukuntla R, Kaniewski LD, Carzoli AK, Freiberg AN, Holbrook MR, Martin B, Staplin WR, Link CJ, Flick R. (2010). A replication-incompetent Rift Valley fever virus vaccine: Chimeric virus-like particles fully protect mice and rats against lethal challenge. Virology 397(1): 187-198.
    13. Wolf MC, Freiberg AN*, Zhang T*, Akyol-Ataman Z*, Grock A, Hong PW, Li J, Watson NF, Fang AQ, Aguilar HC, Porotto M, Honko AN, Damoiseaux R, Miller JP, Woodson SE, Chantasirivisal S, Fontanes V, Negrete O, Krogstad P, Dasgupta A, Moscona A, Hensley LE, Whelan SE, Faull KF, Holbrook MR, Jung ME, Lee B. (2010). A broad-spectrum antiviral targeting entry of enveloped viruses. *contributed equally. PNAS 107(7):3157-62.
    14. Katz A*, Freiberg AN*, Backström V, Schulz A, Mateos A, Holm L, Pettersson RF, Vaheri A, Flick R, Plyusnin A. (2010). Oligomerization of Uukuniemi virus nucleocapsid protein, *contributed equally. Virology J 7:187.
    15. Sherman MB, Freiberg AN, Hilser V, Lemon S, Brocard S, Zimmerman D, Chiu W, Watowich SJ, Weaver SC. (2010). A unique BSL-3 cryo-electron microscopy laboratory at UTMB. Appl Biosafety 15(3):130-6

    NIH Biosketch