FFHI Welcomes New Associate Director of Business Development

director associate

The Foods for Health Institute welcomes the return of a familiar face. After a two-year absence from the FFHI, Samara Freeman has begun work in the position of Associate Director of Business Development. As an original member of the Milk Bioactives Program, Samara brings perspective and legacy knowledge to her new leadership role. Samara is a Calgary native, who completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Gastrointestinal Physiology at the University of Calgary. She first came to UC Davis in 2003 as a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine to work on a nutrient sensing project with Dr. Helen Raybould. 

In the postdoctoral position, Dr. Freeman developed an interest in applied research and the desire to see her work transformed into something tangible and useful.  At that time, she enrolled in the Business Development Certificate program in the Graduate School of Management at Davis in order to build her skills as an effective communicator and liaison between the world of science and business. These skills made her an invaluable asset to Dr. Bruce German, who in 2006 had just begun the Milk Bioactives Program along with David Mills and Carlito Lebrilla, and Samara worked as the only operations person in that productive program. Samara’s efforts to secure grants for the Milk Bioactives Program led to the current success of the Foods for Health Institute under its new directorship. 

While living and working in Davis, Dr. Freeman met and married her husband. In 2008 the couple decided to move to Ireland, where she took a job at the University College Dublin in a large national functional foods center (Food for Health Ireland). At the Dublin FHI program, Dr. Freeman managed issues of intellectual property, interdisciplinary research projects and coordinated the milk mining activities. When Dr. Freeman and her husband returned to the United States, she was excited to see that the small program she helped to pioneer had grown into the full-fledged Foods for Health Institute at Davis. As the Associate Director of Business Development, Dr. Freeman will work to take the research done at the FFHI and see how it can move forward into different types of commercial activity. She draws from her years of experience to foster partnerships with industry sponsors and bring research to the next level. 

As a savvy business development officer, Dr. Freeman can look at research critically from both business and scientific perspectives. She can imagine a bigger picture beyond the work bench where research becomes applicable to people’s lives – she is invested in seeing how something tangible can come out of important projects, and help to bridge the gap between different types of research. Dr. Freeman is convinced that good work is not useful if it stays in a vacuum and does not reach a tangible place where it can actually help people. Drawing from her interactions with the business sector, Dr. Freeman can make connections across diverse groups in order to develop relationships in a broader perspective. 

Dr. Freeman returns from her two year hiatus to join the fully-developed Foods for Health Institute at Davis and a more dynamic group with larger opportunities. She is excited to see long term progress with a team of competent Associate Directors, who are working to provide support and resources for a variety of collaborative projects that bring the FFHI’s mission to life.