Matthew Freeman, Head of Department

By any measure the Dunn School is one of the UK’s top biomedical research departments, and it’s an honour to be at the helm. The diversity of the work we do here, broadly described as the cell and molecular biology that underlies human disease, is one of our great strengths. You can learn more about the impact and scope of research within this overarching remit by browsing this website. We are also an integral part of the vibrant South Parks Road Science Campus where we are planning exciting developments that will consolidate Oxford's position as a world-leading centre for biomedical research. 

Our primary focus is research excellence, with a tradition of both fundamental and translational science, but we are also very proud of our teaching. We provide a major part of the preclinical course for medical students, and with Oxford consistently rated among the top medical schools in the world, that is a serious responsibility.

My mission is to enable world beating science at the Dunn School. To do this, we aim for a collegiate and interactive environment where everyone from graduate students to professors can draw on the experience and support of others. For example, we have outstanding core facilities open to all, we organise internal research seminars and symposia, and we encourage students and postdocs to organise their own interdisciplinary networks. We also throw excellent parties.

Famously, the Dunn School has a spectacular history. The discovery of penicillin as a therapeutic must rate among the top medical discoveries of all time and has saved many millions of live. It is a wonderful example of translating scientific discoveries into benefits for human health. But we have never rested on our laurels. Discoveries in molecular biology and cell signalling at the Dunn School have led to recombinant proteins to treat haemophilia (replacing potentially dangerous blood products), new influenza vaccines (which are given to millions of people worldwide), and treatments directed at the immune system used in chemotherapy and against multiple sclerosis.

And we are continually looking into the future, building facilities and developing world-leading technology. This is essential for us to continue attracting the best young scientists from across the world, and to understand biological principles and develop their potential so that we can have an equally beneficial impact on science and medicine in the 21st century.

Matthew has featured in a number of Voices from Oxford webcasts:

  • Professor Matthew Freeman, Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford profile piece. The Dunn School is highly regarded as one of the UK’s top biomedical research departments, and is part of the Univerity's South Parks Road Science Campus.  Matthew previously worked for the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cambridge, before taking up his current post.
  • How Cells Communicate Prof Matthew Freeman, Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford talks with Prof Denis Noble.  They discuss the huge importance of the Dunn School in the development of penicillin, which since its beginnings in the middle of the 20th century has since saved many hundreds of millions of lives around the world.  Matthew also talks about his own research interest, which focus on communication between cells in living organisms.  They also discuss trends which have seen biology refocusing from genes and genomics towards the cell and higher levels of biological organisation in recent years, as well the increasing interdisciplinarity in science generally.  Matthew explains how the University's of Oxford's South Parks Road science area is perfectly suited to such endeavours, with departments such as pathology, chemistry, pharmacology, engineering and biochemistry all situated close together, which enables high levels of cooperation between the academics working in and between them.
  • Round table discussion on science policy Four University of Oxford scientists discuss science policy. Prof Matthew Freeman, Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology and Prof Denis Noble, Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology are joined by Dr Tianyi Zhang from the Biochemistry Department, and Dr Gijsbert Werner from Zoology. Together they outline the value of science and the need for public funding of research which will not only lead to applications such as medicine which benefit society, but also for more fundamental research, the benefits of which are as yet unknown.
  • Advice to Young People: Brexit Prof Matthew Freeman, Head of the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford offers his advice to young people, specifically with reference to Brexit. Whilst he still hopes that the process may not be fully implemented, he speaks of how the Dunn School and wider academic community are doing everything they can to ensure the continued European and international nature of the University of Oxford. Matthew speaks of the importance of travelling abroad for young people, and how this can open up new opportunities for study and work, as well as broadening their horizons in how they perceive the world.