Linnea Freeman

Linnea Freeman

Associate Professor, Biology

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Dr. Linnea Freeman graduated from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst Commonwealth College (Honors College) in 2006 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. At UMass, she completed an undergraduate thesis project on protein folding in the laboratory of Dr. Lila Gierasch. Her thesis project was entitled: "The Equilibrium Folding States of CRABPI and Single Tryptophan Mutants”; she received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the Dean Slakey Award for Research. In addition to performing this research during sophomore, junior, and senior year as well as most summers, Dr. Freeman spent a summer at Northeastern University in the Neuroscience laboratory of Dean James Stellar. There, she fell in love with Behavioral Neuroscience research.

Just after graduating, (and just after a few weeks of backpacking in Europe), Dr. Freeman moved to Charleston, South Carolina and began her graduate research at the Medical University of South Carolina. She quickly joined the laboratory of Dr. Lotta Granholm to study Aging and Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Freeman's dissertation was entitled: "Damaging Effects of a High Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Diet to the Brain". She received a Predoctoral NRSA Award (F31) grant from the National Institute of Aging for this research.

After receiving her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2011, Dr. Freeman moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to pursue a postdoctoral position with Dr. Jeffrey Keller. There, she continued her research interests in Nutritional Neuroscience and Alzheimer's disease. In the Keller Laboratory, she investigated many different aspects of how diet affects the brain: inflammation, oxidative stress, cognitive changes, as well as progressing Alzheimer's disease.

Next, Dr. Freeman accepted a second postdoctoral position back at the Medical University of South Carolina with Dr. Gary Aston-Jones. In the Aston-Jones Laboratory, Dr. Freeman expanded her research interests to investigate food "addiction" and sex differences in seeking of palatable food rewards. She received a grant from the K12 Career Development Program in Neurosciences - Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) to study: "Sex Differences in Demand for Highly Palatable Food Rewards: Role of Orexin Neurons". She was also an Adjunct Professor at the College of Charleston in the Biology and Psychology Department - teaching Introduction to Biology, Neurobiology and Behavior, and Neuropsychopharmacology. In Fall 2015, Dr. Freeman was very excited to become an Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at Furman University. At Furman, Dr. Freeman is continuing her Nutritional Neuroscience research investigating the damaging effects of a high saturated fat diet on the brain, particularly looking at increased inflammation and changes to the blood-brain-barrier.


  • Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina
  • B.S., University of Massachusetts Amherst


  • Adeluyi A, Guerin L, Fisher M, Galloway A, Cole R, Chan S, Wyatt M, Davis S, Freeman L, Ortinski P, Turner J. (2019) Microglia morphology and proinflammatory signaling in the nucleus accumbens during nicotine withdrawal. Science Advances 5(10), eaax7031. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7031
  • Deshpande N, Saxena J, Pesaresi T, Carrell C, Ashby G, Liao M-K, Freeman LR. (2019) High Fat Diet Alters Gut Microbiota but not Spatial Working Memory in Early Middle-Aged Sprague Dawley Rats. PLoS One, 14(5):e0217553.
  • Freeman L.R., Aston-Jones G.(2018) Activation of medial hypothalamic orexin neurons during a Go/No-Go task, Brain Research, pii: S0006-8993(18)30453-0. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2018.08.031. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Kah-Chung Leong, Linnea R Freeman, Carole R Berini, Shannon M Ghee, Ronald E See, PhD, Carmela M Reichel, PhD (2017) Oxytocin Reduces Cocaine Cued Fos Activation in a Regionally Specific Manner, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology,
  • Granholm AC, Ledreux A, Wang X, Schultzberg M, Freeman LR. (2016) Detrimental effects of a high fat/high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal markers in aged rats, Behavioral Brain Research, 312: 294-304.
  • Cunningham MA, Wirth JR, Freeman LR, Boger HA, Granholm A-Ch, Gilkeson GS. (2014) Estrogen Receptor Alpha Deficiency Protects Against Development Of Cognitive Impairment In Murine Lupus, Journal of Neuroinflammation, 11(1):171. PMC4272530.
  • Freeman L.R., Haley-Zitlin V., Rosenberger DS, Granholm A-Ch. (2014) Damaging effects of a high-fat diet to the brain and cognition: A review of proposed mechanisms, Nutritional Neuroscience, 17(6):241-51. PMC4074256
  • Freeman L.R. Cerebrovascular Changes: The Role of Fat and Obesity, In: Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Brain and Neurological Health edited by Ronald Ross Watson and Fabien De Meester, Elsevier, pp 221-227, 2014.
  • Zhang L, Dasuri K, Fernandez-Kim SO, Bruce-Keller AJ, Freeman LR, Pepping JK, Beckett C, Murphy MP, Keller JN (2013) Prolonged diet induced obesity has minimal effects towards brain pathology in mouse model of cerebral amyloid angiopathy: Implications for studying obesity-brain interactions in mice, Biochim Biophys Acta, 1832(9):1456-62. PMC4566932.
  • Pepping J, Freeman LR, Gupta S, Keller JN, Bruce-Keller AJ (2013) NOX2 Deficiency Attenuates High Fat Diet-Induced Adiposopathy and Brain Injury, American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism, 304(4):E392-404. PMC3566505.
  • Dasuri K, Ebenezer P, Fernandez-Kim SO, Zhang L, Gao Z, Bruce-Keller AJ, Freeman LR, Keller JN (2013) Role of Physiological Levels of 4-Hydroxynonenal on Adipocyte Biology: Implications for Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, Free Radical Research, 47(1):8-19. PMC4038367.
  • Freeman L.R., Zhang L, Nair A, Dasuri K, Francis J, Fernandez-Kim SO, Bruce-Keller A.J., Keller J.N. (2013) Obesity Increases Cerebrocortical Reactive Oxygen Species and Impairs Brain Function, Free Radical Biol. Med., 56:226-33. PMC4038352.
  • Freeman L.R., Zhang L, Dasuri K, Fernandez-Kim SO, Bruce-Keller A.J., Keller J.N. (2012) Mutant Amyloid Precursor Protein Differentially Alters Adipose Biology Under Obesogenic and Non-Obesogenic Conditions, PLoS ONE, 7(8): e43193. PMC3422309.
  • Freeman L.R., Keller J.N. (2012) Oxidative Stress and Cerebral Endothelial Cells: Regulation of the Blood-Brain-Barrier and Antioxidant Based Interventions, BBA - Molecular Basis of Disease for SI: Antioxidants & Antioxidant Treatment, 1822(5):822-829. PMC3412391.Freeman L.R., Granholm A-Ch. (2012) Vascular Changes in Rat Hippocampus following a High Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Diet, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 32(4):643-653. PMC3318144.
  • Freeman L.R., Small B., Bickford P.C., Umphlet C., Granholm A-Ch. (2011) A High Fat/High Cholesterol Diet Inhibits Growth of Fetal Hippocampal Transplants Via Increased Inflammation, Cell Transplantation, 20(10):1499-514. PMC4830280.
  • Freeman L.R., Haley-Zitlin V., Stevens C., Granholm A-Ch. (2011) Diet-induced effects on neuronal and glial elements in the middle-aged rat hippocampus, Nutritional Neuroscience, 14(1):32-44. PMC4073499.
  • Willis L.M., Freeman L.R., Bickford P.C., Quintero E.M., Umphlet C.D., Moore A.B., Goetzl L., Granholm A-Ch. (2010) Blueberry Supplementation Attenuates Microglial Activation in Hippocampal Intraocular Grafts to Aged Hosts, Glia, 58(6): 679-690. PMC2834232.
  • Granholm A-Ch., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., Moore A.B., Nelson M., Freeman L.R, Sambamurti K. (2008) Effects of a saturated fat and high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal morphology in the middle-aged rat, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 14(2):133-145. PMC2670571.


Dr. Freeman's Nutritional Neuroscience laboratory investigates the damaging effects of a high saturated fat diet to the brain and cognition.

In Project 1, behavioral and molecular techniques are used to measure the interaction between an unhealthy diet, changes to gut microbes, inflammation, and cognition. In Project 2, behavioral and molecular techniques are used to measure the effects of an unhealthy diet to the blood-brain-barrier and resulting changes to cognition.