Alumni Hall of Fame

Jeffrey M. Friedman
Jeffrey M. Friedman
Fall 2011

Jeffrey M. Friedman

Class of 1977
Molecular Geneticist
1954-

Jeffrey Friedman is a distinguished biomedical scientist who has dedicated his career to unraveling the molecular mechanisms that regulate body weight. A professor and laboratory head at Rockefeller University, he has held a concurrent position as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1986.

In 1994, Friedman discovered leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and immune function. His groundbreaking research has helped demonstrate that obesity can be a result of metabolic and hormonal disruptions rather than a lack of willpower, and has opened obesity research to molecular exploration. In addition to providing a new target for treating obesity, the discovery of leptin has helped scientists develop treatments for other metabolic conditions, including certain forms of diabetes.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine, Friedman was awarded the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2010.