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Jeffrey Friedman elected to Institute of Medicine

Rockefeller University’s Jeffrey M. Friedman, a molecular geneticist whose discovery of the hormone leptin and its role in regulating body weight has changed our understanding of the causes of human obesity, was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, it was announced today.

Collectively, the members of the IOM serve as an independent scientific advisor to the federal government on health matters. Election to the IOM recognizes those who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health and it is considered one of the highest honors in these fields. Friedman joins 13 other Rockefeller scientists who are IOM members.

Prior to Friedman’s groundbreaking research, little was known about the components of the biologic system that controls weight, with many scientists questioning the very existence of such a homeostatic system. With leptin and Friedman’s subsequent studies, the logic of an entirely new physiologic system has been established with direct implications for the pathophysiology of human obesity.

Friedman is Marilyn M. Simpson Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also directs the Starr Center for Human Genetics at Rockefeller.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Friedman received the Passano Foundation Award and the Gairdner Foundation International Award earlier this year. Among his recent honors are the 2002 Banting Lecture Award and the 2001 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Metabolic Research.