Professor Jeffrey M. Friedman was born in Orlando, Florida (USA) in 1954. He attended the Six-Year Medical Program at Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y., obtaining B.S. (magna cum lauda) from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in 1973 and M.D. from Albany Medical College at Union University in 1977. After completing residencies as categorical intern (1977-1978), assistant resident (1978-1979) and chief resident (1979-1980) in the Department of Medicine at Albany Medical Center Hospital in Albany, N.Y., and serving for one year as a post-graduate fellow at Cornell University Medical College (1980-1981), he came to the Rockefeller University as a post-graduate fellow and associate physician (1980-1985). He received his Ph.D. in 1986 and was appointed Assistant Professor (1986-1991) at Rockefeller University. He became Associate Professor in 1991 and full Professor in1995. He also serves as investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in New York since 1986. Professor Friedman is currently the Marilyn M. Simpson professor and Director of the Star Center for Human Genetics at Rockefeller.
Professor Friedman is renowned for his discovery of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, and for major discoveries that followed his groundbreaking cloning of the leptin gene. He showed that leptin is a major afferent signal in a negative feedback circuit in the hypothalamaus that regulates food intake, energy expenditure and body weight. As a result of his investigations, over more than two decades, several human conditions can now be treated with leptin, such as conditions resulting from leptin mutations, diabetes secondary to lipodistrophy, hypothalamic amenorrhea and several kinds of obesity. More recently, leptin has also emerged as a novel antidepressant. All of these achievements were made possible by the initial discovery and dissection of the leptin system by Friedman and his group.
Professor Friedman’s achievements have been recognized by numerous awards and honors, including Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, Keio Medical Science Prize, Jessie Danone International Prize for Nutrition, Gairdner Foundation International Award, Passano Foundation Award, the Heinrich Wieland Award, the Banting Lecture Award, Jesse Stevenson Kovalenko Medal, Endocrinology Transatlantic Medal and Honorary Doctorate in Medical Genetics from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and its Institute of Medicine, Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was listed in “Best of Science” by the Times Magazine both in 1994 and 1995 and in 2010, he was named Thompson Reuters Citation Laureate. Professor Friedman is also associate and founding editor of Cell Metabolism.
Professor Jeffrey M. Friedman was awarded the prize because the research findings by him and Professor Coleman led to the identification and characterization of the leptin pathway. This seminal discovery has had a major impact on our understanding of the biology of obesity, describing some of the key afferent pathways in body weight regulation active in man. Their fundamental discoveries have also helped in the recognition of more illuminating views of the endocrine system. Because of their major contribution to the field of the genetics of obesity they have been awarded King Faisal International Prize in Medicine for the year 1434H. (2013).