Brett A. Colson, PhD

Personal Information
Assistant Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

Brett Colson, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.   

His research interests include muscle physiology, muscle disease, and heart failure. The primary focus of his current research is to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac muscle dysfunction that occurs with genetic mutations in myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C), the number one cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and often leading to arrhythmias, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. This work also involves development and application of site-directed spectroscopic probe methods for understanding structure, function, and dynamics of cardiac muscle proteins, which is needed to understand the basic mechanisms that are crucial to cardiac muscle physiology and malfunction in disease.

The powerful combination of his doctoral training experience in molecular physiology and muscle biophysics using genetically engineered mice under Dr. Richard Moss, and postdoctoral training under Dr. David Thomas in spectroscopic analysis of molecular dynamics in muscle biochemistry, has uniquely positioned him to undertake biophysical studies at the forefront of biomedicine and technology.

He continues this line of study at the University of Arizona where he aims to establish a strong program in structural biology and cardiovascular sciences to study the molecular mechanisms of muscle proteins and their response to changing physiological demands in health and disease, combining several biophysical techniques from comprehensive analysis of contractile function at levels ranging from isolated muscles to actin-myosin molecular interactions, to high-resolution distance and disorder measurements of muscle protein structural dynamics in solution and in muscle cells, specially engineered with reporter probes.  

Dr. Colson is pursuing very exciting medically-relevant spectroscopy experiments, well-aligned for discovery of novel therapies for heart failure, in order to understand and fix the molecular defects underlying disease in cardiac muscle. Instead of targeting the β-adrenergic receptor or protein kinases with widespread downstream effectors, he is directly targeting the substrate of cMyBP-C. This includes the development of approaches to specifically perturb cMyBP-C structure to favor conformations associated with healthy hearts, in efforts to alleviate the contractile dysfunction associated with diseased hearts. 


University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI  B.S., Molecular Biology, 5/2004

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI  M.S., Physiology, 8/2006

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (Rick Moss) Ph.D., Physiology, 12/2009

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN Postdoctoral Fellow, Biophysics, 12/2012

University of Minnesota (Dave Thomas), Research Associate, Biophysics, 8/2015