Michael L. Freeman, PhD
Dr. Freeman continues a distinguished career in the field of Radiobiology, with a tenure at VUMC spanning 38 years. He served as the Division Director for Radiation Biology and 1 year as Interim Chair of Radiation Oncology. Currently, he is the Director of Faculty Development and Promotions for the Department. He served on the steering committee for the AACR Radiation Sciences and Medicine Working Group and completed an appointment to the Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology at the NCI. He is a member of several editorial boards, including Cancer Letters. An expert in in radiobiology and cancer biology, Dr. Freeman is frequently called upon to chair DOD, NIAID, and DOE study sections.
With respect to clinical education, Dr. Freeman directs the residency Radiation Biology course. This weekly didactic session covers the fundamentals of Radiobiology as well as Cancer Biology. Supplemental topics covering advances in immunotherapy and targeted kinase-modulating agents are covered as well. In addition to resident education, Dr. Freeman serves as an advisor to clinical residents pursuing basic and translational sciences research. He has mentored several Holman Pathway residents and continues to collaborate with physician-scientists on staff.
Uveal melanoma (UM) is the uncontrolled proliferation of melanocytes in the choroid, ciliary, or iris of the eye and is distinct from cutaneous melanoma. UM is characterized by activating mutations in GNA11 or GNAQ but exhibits an overall low mutation burden. Whereas cutaneous melanoma responds well to pembrolizumab or ipilimumab, UM does not. Standard of care for primary UM includes irradiation, surgery and enucleation. Despite these aggressive treatments, 50% of patients develop metastases, mainly hepatic (1), with an overall survival of 50% at 1 year. In collaboration with Drs. Austin Kirschner (Radiation Oncology) and Anthony Daniels (Ophthalmology) we are addressing this critical problem using well defined biochemical and cell-based assays, as well as genetically engineered mouse models.