Jeffrey M. Friedman

Nobel Conference 46

Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., Marilyn M. Simpson Professor and HHMI investigator, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, and director, Starr Center for Human Genetics, The Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y.

In 1994 Jeffrey Friedman’s lab identified leptin, a hormonal signal made by the body’s fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and even immune function. His current research focuses on the genes and neural circuits that control food intake and body weight, and leptin’s mechanism of action and its relevance to the development of obesity.

Friedman graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. (B.S. in biology, 1975) and received his M.D. from Albany Medical College of Union University, N.Y., in 1977 at the age of 22. After completing two residencies at Albany Medical Center Hospital, he joined the Rockefeller University as a postgraduate fellow and associate physician in 1980. He earned a Ph.D. from Rockefeller (1986) and was named head of laboratory in 1991. Friedman was appointed Marilyn M. Simpson Professor in 1999. He has been an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1986 and also directs the Starr Center for Human Genetics, one of the country’s largest centers for the study of diseases linked to heredity.

Friedman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine. His most recent honors include the $1 million Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine (familiarly known as “the Nobel Prize of the East”) in 2009, the 2007 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal, the sixth Danone International Prize for Nutrition, the 2004 Gairdner Foundation International Award, and the 2004 Passano Foundation Award.