Alumni Profiles – Freeman

Alumni Profiles

Marc Freeman ’93

Dr. Marc Freeman ’93 has been selected as the new director of the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.  The Vollum Institute is a privately endowed research institute dedicated to basic research that will lead to new treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases.  Vollum scientists have broad-ranging interests that coalesce around molecular neurobiology and cellular physiology.  Dr. Freeman’s own research has centered on Glia cells and has shown that the most predominant and least-studied glial cell, the star-shaped astrocyte, is essential to the brain’s signaling network and allows for many complex behavioral outputs. His research has shown that neuromodulators, a messenger that regulates a diverse group of neurons, function not only through neurons, but signal through astrocytes as well. Currently, he is exploring how neurons and glia cells communicate with one another so the nervous system runs smoothly and how their dysfunction can result in neurological disease.  Prior to his appointment with the Vollum Institute, Dr. Freeman worked as professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) early career scientist from 2009 to 2013 and is now a HHMI investigator.  Dr. Freeman was able to move his lab and a number of his staff with him to Oregon so that his research will continue.

“At graduate school I sat next to students who had graduated from Harvard and MIT, and I found they hadn’t had as much opportunity to work with professors or in the lab as I had. That’s how good the Eastern program is,” Freeman said. “Eastern has a wonderfully diverse campus. My freshman year I roomed with twins from Italy, and I later had two students from Pakistan as roommates. It was a great experience, and you learn a great deal about other cultures and how people do things around the world.”

“I think Eastern is the best educational value for your dollar I can think of. It has a small college atmosphere, top-notch faculty, and opens the door to huge opportunities. I have two young sons. If I had to pick between a larger university, even a prestigious one, and Eastern — it’s an easy choice.”

“I would not be where I am today if it were not for Professor Mike Adams. He got me involved in research when I was a freshman. And I spent three and a half years working side-by-side in the lab with him. And you know what? It is an experience every Eastern student can have.” Marc received his PhD from Yale University in 1999.