In my current role, I lead the early Oncology Projects group, which is responsible for developing immuno-oncology (IO) agents, antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) and cell therapies from preclinical evaluation to Phase 3 enabling clinical trials.
Since joining AstraZeneca in 2016, I have led a range of programmes exploring the potential of IO agents and oncolytic viruses and personalized therapies in cancer. I also served as the science lead for our head and neck and lung cancer tumour strategy groups. Notably, I led the development strategy for our NGK2A agent, monalizumab, that has now entered phase 3 development and managed key aspects of our partnerships with Innate Pharma. Because we are committed to seeking the best science either from inside AstraZeneca or outside, I have also lead collaborations including, Immunocore, Juno, Parker Institute, Transgene, Fred Hutch, Washington University Personalized Immunotherapy Collaboration. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, I held positions of increasing seniority at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo and Amgen.
Throughout my nearly 25-year career, I have worked on a breadth of small molecule and antibody programmes within oncology, with a focus on biology, translational medicine and early development.
In this time, I’ve led and built multiple cross-functional discovery and development teams, bringing together colleagues with diverse backgrounds and experiences, aimed at delivering robust portfolios with the greatest potential for producing effective cancer medicines. I’m particularly proud of having mentored colleagues as they have advanced their careers in the biopharmaceutical industry.
I earned a PhD in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I have authored more than 100 papers and conference abstracts about cancer research, and have generated 10 patents.
By understanding the interplay between the innate immune system and the tumour, we are identifying new avenues for leveraging immune mechanisms to detect and eradicate cancer cells.
Doubled the size of the biomarkers group to meet the increasing demand of a growing oncology pipeline of both IO and non-IO oncology assets in role as Group Director, Oncology Biomarkers, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Held increasing levels of responsibility in clinical development at Daiichi Sankyo, including leading the creation and implementation of the translational research strategy for all assets, restructuring the biomarker discovery and development organizations, and forming an oncology strategy that defined the company’s focus on antibody drug conjugates
While serving in oncology research scientist roles at Amgen, built the company’s first molecular/translational lab, served as Research Lead for panitumumab—discovering and developing a biomarker for patient stratification (KRAS), served as Project Lead for patritumab, an anti-HER3 antibody-drug conjugate, and led scientific due diligence on more than 20 licensing opportunities
Intervention strategies for microbial therapeutics in cancer immunotherapy
V. Gopalakrishnan, B. Weiner, C.B. Ford, B.R. Sellman, S.A. Hammond, D.J. Freeman, P. Dennis, J-C. Soria ‚Ä†, J.R. Wortman,M.R. Henn. IOTECH. 2020 May;6(C):9-17 https://www.esmoiotech.org/article/S2590-0188(20)30013-7/pdf
Optimizing oncolytic virotherapy in cancer treatment
Clinical Translation and Validation of a Predictive Biomarker for Patritumab, an Anti-human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 3 (HER3) Monoclonal Antibody, in Patients With Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
Mendell J, Freeman DJ, Feng W, Hettmann T, Schneider M, Blum S, Ruhe J, Bange J, Nakamaru K, Chen S, Tsuchihashi Z, von Pawel J, Copigneaux C, Beckman RA. EBioMedicine. 2015 Feb 12;2(3):264-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484825/
A Phase 2 Randomized Trial of Paclitaxel and Carboplatin with or without Panitumumab for First-Line Treatment of Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Crawford J, Swanson P, Schwarzenberger P, Sandler A, Prager D, Zhang K, Freeman DJ, Johnson C, Krishnan K, Johnson D. J Thoracic Oncol. 2013 Dec;8(12):1510-8. https://www.jto.org/article/S1556-0864(15)30133-7/fulltext
Gene Expression Profiles Can Predict Panitumumab Monotherapy Responsiveness of Animal Xenograft Models
Tumor penetration and epidermal growth factor receptor saturation by panitumumab correlate with antitumor activity in an preclinical model of human cancer
Freeman DJ, McDorman K, Ogbagabriel S, Kozlosky C, Yang BB, Doshi S, Perez-Ruxio JJ, Fanslow W, Starnes C, Radinsky R. Mol Cancer. 2012 Jul 25;11(1):47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499177/#__ffn_sectitle
Activity of panitumumab alone or with chemotherapy in non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines expressing mutant epidermal growth factor receptor
Association of K-ras mutational status and clinical outcomes in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer receiving panitumumab alone
Freeman DJ, Juan T, Reiner M, Hecht JR, Meropol NJ, Berlin J, Mitchell E, Sarosi I, Radinsky R, Amado RG. Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2008 May;7(3):184-190. https://www.clinical-colorectal-cancer.com/article/S1533-0028(11)70418-2/fulltext