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School of Health Sciences Personnel - Jennifer Freeman

Jennifer Freeman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Toxicology
Phone: 765-494-1408
Fax: 765-496-1377

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B.S., Cell and Structural Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D., Environmental Toxicology and Molecular Cytogenetics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA

Research: Molecular and Environmental Toxicology and Cytogenetics

Dr. Freeman’s research interests are in molecular and environmental toxicology, cytogenetics, genomics, and epigenomics. Current research efforts in the Freeman laboratory are focused on investigating the adverse health effects of exposure to environmental stressors on human and environmental health using the zebrafish model system. The zebrafish is a prominent model system in a variety of biological disciplines and has become one of the preferred vertebrate models in biomedical research. Similarities between the zebrafish and human genome permits investigations into the molecular pathways found to play a role in the mechanisms of toxicity in the zebrafish and translation to humans. Dr. Freeman has been involved in the cytogenetic mapping of the zebrafish genome in efforts to establish an accurate and comprehensive genome sequence. She also developed the first array comparative genomic hybridization platforms for the zebrafish that were applied to investigate genomic imbalances in zebrafish developmental mutant and disease models including numerous cancer models. In addition, these platforms were applied to define and characterize copy number variants (CNVs) in the zebrafish genome.

Ongoing research projects in the Freeman laboratory are defining the underlying genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of toxicity of environmental stressors with current focus on pesticides, metals, and radiation. Three major ongoing projects are investigating the underlying genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of toxicity of a developmental exposure to (1) the heavy metal lead, (2) the herbicide atrazine, and (3) radiation. These projects are identifying genetic biomarkers and molecular pathways of the immediate adverse impacts of a developmental exposure, the lasting impacts of this developmental exposure throughout the lifespan, and the analysis of subsequent generations linking genetic, epigenetic, and phenotypic assessments. These studies are investigating a developmental origin of adult disease pathogenesis with a specific focus on neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and reproductive alterations. 


Freeman Laboratory Research Video Link:


  • Environmental and molecular toxicology
  • Developmental origin of adult disease
  • Genome and epigenome alterations
  • Molecular cytogenetics
  • Toxicogenomics


  • Director, School of Health Sciences Undergraduate Honors Program (HSCI 19501, HSCI 19601, HSCI 29501, HSCI 29601, HSCI 39501, HSCI 39601, HSCI 49501, and HSCI 49601)
  • Essentials of Environmental, Occupational, and Radiological Health Sciences (HSCI 20200)
  • Advanced Techniques in Molecular Toxicology (HSCI 59000)
  • Toxicology Laboratory: Undergraduate Research Experience (HSCI 29000, HSCI 39000, and HSCI 49000)
  • Introduction to Environmental Health Science (HSCI 57500 / HK 57500)

Honors and Credentials

  • Robert R. Landolt Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Health Sciences (2010)
  • Colgate Palmolive Award for Alternative Research, Society of Toxicology (2012)
  • Early Career Research Achievement Award, College of Health and Human Sciences (2014)
  • Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award, Purdue Univesrity (2014)


Representative Publications

  1. Wirbisky, S., G.J. Weber, J.W. Wang, J.R. Cannon, and J.L. Freeman. 2014. Novel dose-dependent alterations in excitatory GABA during embryonic development associated with lead (Pb) neurotoxicity. Toxicol. Letters. 229:1-8.
  2. Weber, G.J., M.S. Sepulveda, S.M. Peterson, S.S. Lewis, and J.L. Freeman. 2013. Transcriptome alterations following developmental atrazine exposure in zebrafish are associated with disruption of neuroendocrine and reproductive system function, cell cycle, and carcinogenesis. Toxicol. Sci. 132:458-466.
  3. Freeman, J.L., G.J. Weber, and M.S. Sepulveda. 2013. Fishing for microRNAs in toxicology. In: Micro-RNA in Toxicology and Medicine.
  4. Peterson, S.M., J. Zhang, and J.L. Freeman. 2013. Developmental reelin expression and time point-specific alterations from lead exposure in zebrafish. Neurotox. Teratol. 38C:53-60.
  5. Lewis, S.S., G.J. Weber, J.L. Freeman, and M.S. Sepulveda. 2012. Molecular epigenetic changes caused by environmental pollutants. In: Toxicology and Epigenetics.
  6. Brown, K.H., K.P. Dobrinski, A.S. Lee, O. Gokcumen, R.E. Mills, X. Shi, W.W.S. Chong, J.Y.H. Chen, P. Yoo, S. David, S.M. Peterson, T. Raj, K.W. Choy, B. Stranger, R.E. Williamson, L.I. Zon, J.L. Freeman*, and C. Lee*. 2012. Extensive genetic diversity and strain sub-structuring among zebrafish strains revealed through copy number variant analysis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 109:529-534.
  7. Zhang, J., S.M. Peterson, G.J. Weber, X. Zhu, W. Zheng, and J.L. Freeman. 2011. Decreased axonal density and altered expression profiles of axonal guidance genes underlying lead (Pb) neurodevelopmental toxicity at early embryonic stages in the zebrafish. Neurotox. Teratol. 33:715-720.
  8. Peterson, S.M., J. Zhang, G.J. Weber, and J.L. Freeman. 2011. Global gene expression analysis reveals dynamic and developmental stage dependent enrichment of lead (Pb)-induced neurological gene alterations. Environ. Health Perspect. 119:615-621.
  9. Peterson, S.M. and J.L. Freeman. 2009. Cancer cytogenetics in the zebrafish. Zebrafish.6:355-360.
  10. Freeman, J.L., C. Ceol, H. Feng, D.M. Langenau, C. Belair, H.M. Stern, A. Song, B.H. Paw, A.T. Look, Y. Zhou, L.I. Zon, and C. Lee. 2009. Construction and application of a zebrafish array CGH platform. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 48:155-170.
  11. Freeman, J.L., A. Adeniyi, R. Banerjee, S. Dallaire, S. F. Maguire, J. Chi, B.L. Ng, C. Zepeda, C.E. Scott, S. Humphray, J. Rogers, Y. Zhou, L.I. Zon, N.P. Carter, F. Yang, and C. Lee. 2007. Definition of the zebrafish genome using flow cytometry and cytogenetic mapping. BMC Genomics 8: 195.
  12. Shepard, J.L., J.F. Amatruda, D. Finkelstein, J. Ziai, K.R. Finley, H.M. Stern, K. Chiang, C. Hersey, B. Barut, J.L. Freeman, C. Lee, J.N. Glickman, J.L. Kutok, J.C. Aster, and L.I. Zon. 2007. A mutation in separase causes genome instability and increased susceptibility to epithelial cancer. Genes Dev. 21:55-59.
  13. Redon, R. Ishikawa, K.R. Fitch, L. Feuk, G.H. Perry, T.D. Andrews, H. Fiegler, M.H. Shapero, A.R. Carson, W. Chen, E.K. Cho, S. Dallaire, J.L. Freeman, J.R. Gonzalez, M. Gratacos, J. Huang, D. Kalaitzopoulos, D. Komura, J.R. MacDonald, C.R. Marshall, R. Mei, L. Montgomery, K. Nishimura, K. Okamura, F. Shen, M.J. Somerville, J. Tchinda, A. Valsesia, C. Woodwark, F. Yang, J. Zhang, T. Zerjal, J. Zhang, L. Armengol, D.F. Conrad, X. Estivill, C.Tyler-Smith, N.P. Carter, H. Aburatani, C. Lee, K.W. Jones, S.W. Scherer, and M.E. Hurles. 2006. Global variation in copy number in the human genome. Nature 444:444-454.
  14. Freeman, J.L., G.H. Perry, L. Feuk, R. Redon, S.A. McCarroll, D.M. Altshuler, H. Aburatani, K. Jones, C. Tyler-Smith, M.E. Hurles, N.P. Carter, S.W. Scherer, and C. Lee. 2006. Copy number variation: New insights in genome diversity. Genome Res. 16:949-961.
  15. Freeman, J.L., N. Beccue, and A.L. Rayburn. 2005. Differential metamorphosis alters the endocrine response in anuran larvae exposed to T3 and atrazine. Aquat. Toxicol. 75:263-276.
  16. Freeman, J.L. and A.L. Rayburn. 2005. Developmental impact of atrazine on metamorphing Xenopus laevis as revealed by nuclear analysis and morphology. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 24:1648-1653.
  17. Freeman, J.L. and A.L. Rayburn. 2004. In vivo genotoxicity of atrazine to anuran larvae. Mutat. Res.-Gen. Tox. En. 560:69-78.

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