Eric O. Freed, Ph.D.

Eric O. Freed, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Building 535, Room 110
  • Frederick, MD 21702-1201
  • 301-846-6223 (office)
  • 301-846-6483 (lab)


Dr. Freed is recognized as a leader in the field of virus assembly who has made important strides in understanding the mechanisms of retroviral replication at the molecular level, with an emphasis on late stages of the HIV-1 replication cycle.  As Director of the HIV DRP, he oversees a program of basic, translational, and clinical research aimed at developing a better understanding of HIV that can be used to generate more-effective treatment strategies.  His research focuses on HIV-1 Gag trafficking, Env incorporation, virus assembly, budding, release, maturation, and drug resistance.  Dr. Freed has a special interest in the complex relationship between viral proteins and cellular factors and pathways, believing that characterizing fundamental aspects of the retrovirus replication cycle will suggest novel targets for the development of antiretroviral therapies.  Recent work in the Freed lab has also focused on the ability of Env mutations to broadly rescue defects in virus replication, including those conferred by antiretrovirals.

Areas of Expertise

HIV pathogenesis
Virus Assembly


Selected Key Publications

HIV-1 is dependent on its immature lattice to recruit IP6 for mature capsid assembly.

Renner N, Kleinpeter A, Mallery DL, Albecka A, Rifat Faysal KM, Böcking T, Saiardi A, Freed EO, James LC.
Nat Struct Mol Biol. 30(3): 370-382, 2023. [ Journal Article ]

Neutral sphingomyelinase 2 is required for HIV-1 maturation.

Waheed AA, Zhu Y, Agostino E, Naing L, Hikichi Y, Soheilian F, Yoo SW, Song Y, Zhang P, Slusher BS, Haughey NJ, Freed EO.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 120(28): e2219475120, 2023. [ Journal Article ]

Mutations in the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein can broadly rescue blocks at multiple steps in the virus replication cycle.

Van Duyne R, Kuo LS, Pham P, Fujii K, Freed EO.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 30(116): 9040-9049, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Biochemical evidence of a role for matrix trimerization in HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein incorporation

Tedbury PR, Novikova M, Ablan SD, Freed EO.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113(2): E182-90, 2015. [ Journal Article ]

Phosphatidylinositol (4,5) bisphosphate regulates HIV-1 Gag targeting to the plasma membrane

Ono A, Ablan SD, Lockett SJ, Nagashima K, Freed EO.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 101(41): 14889-94, 2004. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

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Freed lab and colleagues at JHU publish two studies on nSMase2

In collaboration with John Hopkins University, Abdul Waheed, Eva Agostino, Lwar Naing and Yuta Hikichi publish papers in the journal PNAS showing a critical role of nSMase2, in the late stages of HIV-1 replication and maturation (2023).

Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

Alex Kleinpeter successfully competed for a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence (PI) Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2023.  The PI Award Program establishes and maintains a strong cohort of new and talented, NIH-supported, independent investigators.  This program is designed to facilitate a timely transition of outstanding postdoctoral researchers or clinician-scientists from mentored research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions, and to provide independent NIH research support during the transition that will help these individuals launch competitive, independent research careers. Previous K99/R00 Award winner:  Melissa Fernandez (2019)

Intramural AIDS Research Fellowships

Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship (IARF) awards from the Office of AIDS Research, Office of Intramural Research, and Office of Intramural Research & Training in the National Institutes of Health include full stipend support to successful candidates who demonstrate outstanding scientific potential through both an imaginative and thoughtful research plan and a well thought out career development plan.

Hana Veler received an IARF award in 2023 to support her research project on “Antagonism of viral glycoproteins by guanylate binding protein 5” and Geraldine Vilmen received an IARF award in 2023 to support her research project on “ Mechanism of HIV-1 inhibition by MARCH E3 ubiquitin ligases and cellular partners”.

The following postdoctoral fellows in the Freed Lab received IARF awards in previous years:

Hana Veler:  "Investigating the Interaction Between the MA Domain of Gag and the Cytoplasmic Tail of gp41 During HIV-1 Maturation" (2022)

Yuta Hikichi:  "Mechanism of HIV-1 Env-Mediated Drug Resistance" (2022)

Yuta Hikichi:  "Mechanism of HIV-1 Env-Mediated Drug Resistance In Vitro and In Vivo" (2021)

Alex Kleinpeter: "Elucidating the Role of IP6 in HIV-1 Assembly and Maturation." (2020, 2021)

Cheng man (Bonnie) Lun: "Antagonism of HIV-1 Replication by Cellular Factor MARCH E3 Ubiquitin Ligases and Viral Escape Pathways" (2019, 2020)

Melissa Fernandez: "Mechanism of HIV-1 Env Trafficking to the Virological Synapse” (2018, 2019)

Mariia Novikova: "Characterization of Antiretroviral Activity of Second-Generation Maturation Inhibitors and Mechanisms of Resistance" (2017)

Rachel Van Duyne: "Challenging the Paradigm for Antiretroviral Resistance through the Study of Non-Canonical HIV-1 Escape Mutants" (2017)

Emiko Urano:  "Development of Potent and Broadly Active HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors" (2016)

Mariia Novikova:  "Mechanisms of HIV-1 Gag Lattice Formation and Env Incorporation" (2016)

Rachel Van Duyne:  "Characterizing the Host Cell Factors Involved in HIV-1 Gag Trafficking to Sites of Virus Assembly" (2015)

Robert Buckheit:  "The Effect of Host Antiviral Restriction Factors on Viral Budding and Maturation" (2014)

Lillian Kuo:  "Characterizing the Role of HIV-1 p6-Alix Binding in HIV-1 Cell-to-Cell Infectivity" (2011, 2012)

Philip Tedbury:  "HIV-1 Gag in Assembly and Release: Interactions with gp41 and Cellular Host Factors" (2011, 2012)

NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence

James Kirui and Yuta Hikichi won 2022 NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence (FARE) for travel to attend and present their work at a scientific meeting in the U.S.  This award, which acknowledges outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows, is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, and Office of Intramural Training and Education and is funded by the Scientific Directors.  FARE awards are based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality/presentation of the abstracts.  Members of the Freed Lab who were FARE awardees in previous years include Rachel Van Duyne (2015), Lillian Kuo (2012), Kayoko Waki (2012), Angelica Martins (2012), Muthukumar Balasubramaniam (2010), Benjamin Luttge (2010), Catherine Adamson (2009), and Karine Gousset (2007).

Travel Awards, Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting

Yuta Hikichi and Alex Kleinpeter both won a $800 travel award for their outstanding posters at the 2022 Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting.  This annual Think Tank meeting on the NIH-Bethesda campus provides a venue for students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff scientists to present emerging work and hypotheses in the field of cancer virology.  The Think Tank travel awards are provided by the Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology, Center for Cancer Research, NCI.  Members of the Freed Lab who received travel awards in previous years include Mariia Novikova (2017, 2016) and Rachel Van Duyne (2016), Philip Tedbury (2014), Angelica Martins (2013), and Emiko Urano (2013).

Confirmed Talent Award from French Government

Geraldine Vilmen received an award from the French Government in December 2021 as a "confirmed talent" representing France overseas.  She is part of an esteemed group of young people highlighting opportunities worldwide.

D.Phil. in Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science Awarded by University of Oxford

Hana Valer was awarded a D.Phil. degree in Biological and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Oxford in November 2021 after successfully defending her dissertation on the interaction between influenza A virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and cellular GTPase Rab11a.  Her project was a collaboration between the Dunn School of Pathology and Division of Structural Biology (STRUBI) at the University of Oxford and the Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility.

Eric Freed Received 2020 NCI Women Scientists Advisors Mentoring and Leadership Award

In recognition of his commitment to mentoring and his role in promoting diversity, Eric Freed received the 2020 NCI Women Scientists Advisors Mentoring and Leadership Award, which honors "exceptional dedication, leadership, and tireless efforts to promote and nurture NCI women scientists at all stages of their careers."

Eric Freed Received 2020 Distinguished Research Career Award from The Ohio State University Center for Retrovirus Research

Photo of Eric Freed holding award from The Ohio State University Center for Retrovirus Research

Eric Freed was selected by the Center for Retrovirus Research of The Ohio State University to receive the 2020 Distinguished Research Career Award.  This annual award honors the distinguished research career of a scientist working in the field of retrovirology.  The retrovirologist is nominated by student and faculty members of the Center for Retrovirus Research and as part of the award recognition is invited to give a special lecture to all members of the Ohio State University biomedical research community.  To read more about this award, click here.

NCI Director's Innovation Award

James Kirui received a 2020 NCI Director’s Innovation Award for his research proposal "Using highly sensitive reporter virus vectors to study late stages of HIV-1."  With support from this award, Dr. Kirui developed innovative bioluminescent reporter virus vectors that provide a simple, rapid tool for functional studies of HIV-1 replication as well as high-throughput screening for cellular factors and small molecules that promote or inhibit HIV-1 particle production.

Travel Award, 39th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Virology (ASV 2020)

Melissa Fernandez was awarded an American Society for Virology Postdoctoral Scholar Travel Award for her abstract submission to ASV 2020 (meeting canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

    Dr. Eddie Méndez Award

    Melissa Fernandez was selected to be a recipient of the 2nd Annual Dr. Eddie Méndez Award, which recognizes outstanding postdoctoral scientists who are conducting research in cancer biology or infectious diseases.  As an awardee, Dr. Fernandez presented her latest research findings at a scientific symposium in 2020 honoring Dr. Eddie Méndez and had the opportunity to discuss her work with faculty members of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

    Postdoctoral Fellowship, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

    The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) awarded a 2020-2021 Research Fellowship to Yuta Hikichi for his project "Mutations in the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein contribute to HIV drug resistance."  The fellowship program sponsored by this society supports meritorious biomedical research projects undertaken in NIH laboratories by Japanese postdoctoral researchers.  Emiko Urano was awarded a JSPS Research Fellowship from 2013 to 2015.

      Poster Awards, Spring Research Festival

      Ahlam Majadly was awarded "Outstanding Poster—Infectious Pathogens and Epidemiology" for her presentation at the 2019 Spring Research Festival, which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute at Frederick and the other eight agencies of the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research.  Ahlam's presentation highlighted the research she conducted as a student trainee in the Freed Lab over the past year.  Other members of the Freed Lab who won poster awards at the Spring Research Festival in previous years include Maya Swiderski (2016), Megan Mounts (2014), Scott MacDonald (2013), Darren D'Souza (2012), and Nishani Kuruppu (2011).  All six of these award recipients were undergraduate students or Werner H. Kirsten student interns under the mentorship of Abdul Waheed.

      Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology

      Eric Freed was elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) in 2019.  AAM Fellows are recognized as distinguished scientists who are "elected through a highly selective, annual, peer review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology....Each elected Fellow has built an exemplary career in basic and applied research, teaching, clinical and public health, industry or government service."

      New Investigator Scholarships, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

      Mariia Novikova, Phuong Pham, and Rachel Van Duyne were awarded New Investigator Scholarships to present their research findings at the 2019 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).  CROI scholarship awardees in previous years include Rachel Van Duyne (2018, 2017), Phuong Pham (2018), Mariia Novikova (2017, 2016), Justin Kaplan (2017), Emiko Urano (2016, 2014), Lillian Kuo (2013), and Catherine Adamson (2007).

      2018 KT Jeang Retrovirology Prize

      Eric Freed was awarded the 2018 KT Jeang Retrovirology Prize.  This annual award recognizes mid-career investigators who have made outstanding contributions to the field of retrovirology.

      NIH Postbac Poster Day Awards

      Phuong Pham received an Outstanding Poster Award at the NIH Postbac Poster Day in 2018.  Her presentation on "Progress in Developing Broadly Active and Highly Potent HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors" was recognized as one of the best among the 772 posters presented by the NIH postbacs this year.  Members of the Freed Lab who received Outstanding Poster Awards at the NIH Postbac Poster Day in previous years include Nishani Kuruppu and Justin Kaplan (2016).

        Travel Awards, HIV DRP Think Tank Meeting

        Rachel Van Duyne received a $1000 travel award from the HIV DRP for one of the two best presentations by NCI fellows at the 2018 and 2017 HIV DRP Think Tank Meetings.  Members of the Freed Lab who received travel awards in previous years include Mariia Novikova (2016), Emiko Urano (2015), Kayoko Waki (2011), and Muthukumar Balasubramaniam (2010).

          Research Highlights Award at 2016 NCI Scientific Retreat

          In 2016, Eric Freed received a Research Highlights Award for his presentation on "Development of Potent and Broadly Active HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors" at the NCI Annual Intramural Scientific Retreat.

          Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists

          Recipients of Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowships at the National Cancer Institute in 2015

          Melissa Fernandez (2nd from right) was selected for the Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists at the National Cancer Institute in 2015.  The SRK Fellowship is a highly competitive annual program that provides additional mentoring opportunities, networking, seminars, and workshops to help prepare NCI’s female postdoctoral fellows for the competitive nature of the job market and help them to transition to independent research careers.  The highlight of this selective program is a 30-week course entitled "Career Building for Women in Science," which includes two day-long workshops.  The SRK Fellowship also includes mentoring opportunities with successful women scientists from government, industry, and academia.

          Recipients of Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowships at the National Cancer Institute in 2014

          Rachel Van Duyne and Mariia Novikova (2nd and 4th from left) were selected for SRK Fellowships in 2014.

          2014 Outstanding Science Alumni Award, Penn State University

          Eric Freed was selected by the Eberly College of Science to receive the 2014 Outstanding Science Alumni Award at Penn State University.  This award recognizes alumni who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and are outstanding role models for the current students in the college.

          Award for Outstanding Scientific Presentation, 9th International Retroviral Nucleocapsid Protein and Assembly Symposium

          Philip Tedbury received an award for one of the best posters at the 2013 International Retroviral Nucleocapsid Protein and Assembly Symposium in Montreal, Canada.  His presentation on "Identification of a matrix mutation that globally rescues Env incorporation defects: implications for matrix structure and Env recruitment" highlighted the latest findings from his research project supported by an Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship.

          Special Recognition as a Top Peer Reviewer for the Journal of Virology

          In 2011, Eric Freed merited special recognition as one of the 25 top peer reviewers (among 1570 reviewers) for the Journal of Virology.  This recognition was based on his outstanding attention to a high number of manuscripts during the year, providing insightful reviews within an exceptionally short time frame.

          2010 NCI Mentor of Merit Award

          Eric Freed was selected as an NCI Mentor of Merit in 2010 for excellence in mentoring and guiding the careers of trainees in cancer research.  Dr. Freed was nominated by present and past trainees who view his mentorship as outstanding.  NCI Director Harold Varmus presented the Mentor of Merit citation to him at the NCI Director's Awards ceremony in November 2010.

          2010 NCI Mentor of Merit Awardees

          2010 Multi-Investigator Award Sponsored by Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and Office of AIDS Research (OAR)

          In 2010, Eric Freed and Vineet KewalRamani of the HIV DRP, NCI-Frederick, and Sriram Subramaniam of the Laboratory of Cell Biology, NCI-Bethesda, successfully competed for a $150,000 CCR/OAR-sponsored multi-investigator award with their research proposal "Catching HIV in the act: Structural studies of HIV transport from antigen-presenting cells into the T-cell nucleus."  In total, four CCR/OAR-sponsored awards were made to 11 investigators within and between the Frederick and Bethesda campuses of the National Cancer Institute.

          Young Investigator Award, 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium

          Benjamin Luttge was awarded the Young Investigator Award for his oral presentation at the 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium in Vienna, Austria.

          Travel Award, 2008 NCI-Frederick Spring Research Festival Symposium

          Benjamin Luttge won a travel award for the best oral presentation at the 2008 NCI-Frederick Spring Research Festival Symposium on "Virology: from Genetic Vehicles to Human Pathogens."

          2006 Travel Fellowship, HIV & Cancer Virology Faculty, Center for Cancer Research

          In 2006, Catherine Adamson won one of the three available travel fellowships awarded by the HIV & Cancer Virology Faculty, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute.


            Catherine Adamson, Ph.D.
            Research Fellow
            Eva Agostino, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Muthukumar Balasubramanian, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Himanshu Batra, M.Sc.
            Special Volunteer
            Robert Buckheit III, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Hannah Carter, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Mary Ann Checkley Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Antony Chen, Ph.D.
            Research Fellow (Guest)
            Zetao Cheng, Ph.D., M.P.H.
            Predoctoral Fellow
            Erin Clark
            Summer Student
            Dimiter Demirov, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Darren D'Souza
            Summer Student
            Kathryn Felton, B.S.
            Student Intern
            Melissa Fernandez, Ph.D.
            Research Fellow
            Ken Fujii, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Ritu Gaur, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Ariana Gitzen
            Summer Student
            Karine Gousset, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Yun Han, Ph.D.
            Special Volunteer
            Guangjin Hou, Ph.D.
            Special Volunteer
            Anjali Joshi, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Justin Kaplan, M.P.H.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Ali Khan
            Summer Student
            Maisha Khan
            Summer Student
            James Kirui, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Sagar Kudchodkar, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Lillian Kuo, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Nishani Kuruppu, D.P.M.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Cheng man (Bonnie) Lun, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Benjamin Luttge, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Scott MacDonald
            Summer Student
            Ahlam Majadly
            Summer Student
            Rebecca Mandt, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Angelica Martins, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Megan Mounts, B.S.
            Summer Student
            Utpal Munshi, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Lwar Naing, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Mariia Novikova, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Akira Ono, Ph.D.
            Staff Scientist
            Vanya Paralanov, Ph.D.
            Graduate Student
            Phuong Pham, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Katherine Polk, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Nicole Powell
            Summer Student
            Vinita Puri, M.D.
            Student Intern
            Sarah Reynolds
            Summer Student
            Hamza Shah
            Summer Student
            Miranda Shehu-Xhilaga, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Jennifer Simmons
            Summer Student
            Christopher Suiter, Ph.D.
            Special Volunteer
            Maya Swiderski
            Summer Student
            Philip Tedbury, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Meghna Tripathi, B.S.
            Postbaccalaureate Fellow
            Emiko Urano, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Rachel Van Duyne, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow
            Kayoko Waki, Ph.D.
            Postdoctoral Fellow