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In Memoriam: Professor Robert Freedman

We are extremely sad to inform you that Professor Robert Freedman died on Tuesday 17th October, following a period of illness. Robert passed away at home with his family around him.

Robert joined the University as Professor of Biochemistry and Head of Biological Sciences in 2002 and held his appointment as Head until 2007. Robert retired in 2010, before re-joining the University as a Recognised Researcher. Robert was an excellent scientist, a lovely person and a very popular, collegiate, supportive colleague. He will be sadly missed by those who knew him.



Recognised Researcher


Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 3516
WebLink: Protein folding and disulphide bond formation

Research Interests

I am continuing my long-standing research on protein folding in the cell and on folding catalysts, especially the formation of disulphide bonds in the folding of secreted proteins. This work has focussed on the properties of the folding catalyst protein disulphide-isomerase (PDI) and other aspects of protein folding and modification in the endoplasmic reticulum.

I also undertake joint research projects with several Warwick colleagues in a range of Departments. I collaborate with Colin Robinson in studies on protein folding and export in bacteria, aimed at modifying bacteria to be improved biotechnological factories for manufacturing high-value disulphide-bonded proteins. I also work with Rudolf Roemer (Physics) and Claudia Blindauer (Chemistry), carrying out experimental and theoretical studies of protein structure, dynamics and flexibility. In a collaboration with Warwick's Centre for the History of Medicine, funded by the Biochemical Society, I am studying the role of women in the early history of Biochemistry in the UK; in addition to conventional publications, this work has generated exhibitions and web-sites:
Women Biochemists
Early Women Biochemists


I retired from full-time work in 2010 and now work part-time, and only on research. I am fortunate that my work continues to be funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Wellcome Trust and the Biochemical Society.

I came to Warwick in 2002 and was Head of the Department of Biological Sciences from 2002 to 2007. Before that, I worked for 30 years at the University of Kent, where I was Head of the School of Biosciences (1989-94) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1996-2002).

My only current external responsibility is as Editor of 'BJ Classics' a series of commentaries on significant papers that have appeared over the years in the Biochemical Journal. Previously, I was active in learned societies and research funding bodies. I was Chair of the Biochemical Society from 1996-98 and instrumental in promoting collaboration between specialist societies, eventually leading to the creation of the Society of Biology in 2009. From 2009-2012, I chaired the Society of Biology's Education, Training and Policy Committee. For six years before that (2002-08) I was a member of the Council of the BBSRC, and served as Chair of its Appointments Board and of several scientific reviews of its Research Institutes. In earlier years, I was Biochemistry Consultant to 'New Scientist' (1971-80) and Programme Manager of the SERC Protein Engineering Club (1985-88).

Research Projects

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Post Graduate Supervision

  • Investigation of dynamics of protein disulphide-isomerase by single-molecule FRET
  • Studies on protein stability in aqueous solution
  • Protein rigidity, flexibility and simulations of conformational change
  • Studies on the pancreas specific form of protein disulphide-isomerase, PDIp

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