Award, scholarship created to honor former MCO professor

June 28, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Feliza Casano

The UT Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology is honoring Dr. Earl Freimer, the first chairman of the department, with an award and scholarship in his name.

The award to be renamed in honor of Freimer has been given for years to a graduating medical student who showed the most exemplary performance in the infection and immunity block of the curriculum.

The department also will establish a scholarship fund for MD and PhD students whose research is carried out in the infection, immunity and transplantation track within the department.

Freimer, who died May 23 at age 84, was a physician, instructor and researcher during his career at the former Medical College of Ohio who co-authored 40 scientific publications between 1959 and 1997.

“Dr. Freimer combined the practice of medicine with clinically relevant research in his own career, so it seems very appropriate to have a scholarship in his name that would support students working toward both an MD and a PhD in infection, immunity and transplantation,” said Dr. Akira Takashima, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Freimer was recruited as the chairman of the then Department of Microbiology at MCO when it was founded in 1968. He also was the founding chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

After serving a medical internship at Belleview Hospital in New York, Freimer began his career in research at the Rockefeller Institute with Maclyn McCarty, a well-known American geneticist, studying diseases caused by the bacteria Streptococcus. Freimer worked at the Rockefeller Institute until 1967, during which time he co-authored a paper with McCarty on rheumatic fever, a disease caused by Streptococcus.

Freimer’s impact on the department after 30 years continues to be significant.

“The department and the college have evolved since he was chair, but his impact was profound on everything from the curriculum through faculty hiring to the design of the Health Education Building,” said Dr. Robert Blumenthal, professor and director of the Program in Bioinformatics and Proteomics/Genomics.

Those interested in donating to the new Freimer scholarship fund should contact Howard Newman, associate vice president of development on Health Science Campus, at 419.383.6840 or email

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