Gerald J. Friedman, MD was a visionary. A renowned physician in multiple fields, including diabetes and endocrinology, he recognized the impending epidemic of diabetes more than four decades ago. Diabetes affects nearly 26 million in the United States, with two million new cases diagnosed each year.
As a practicing physician, Dr. Friedman was acutely aware of the negative impact of diabetes on the health of the population. To address this problem, he established the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman NY Foundation for Medical Research in 1992, a bold move that would change the face of diabetes research, treatment and education. Since its establishment, the Foundation has donated millions of dollars to combat this disease.
At the core of the Foundation’s giving is the Friedman Fellows Program, developed to fuel new ideas around this chronic disease. Since the inception of the program 41 fellows have been funded at 11 institutions. In 2000, Tufts Medical Center’s Anastassios Pittas, MD, had the distinguished honor to become the first Friedman Fellow. Today, Dr. Pittas is one of the foremost experts in field of diabetes, and is one of the leaders on a groundbreaking $41 million multi-center NIH grant studying the impact of Vitamin D on diabetes. “This is an accomplishment for which we are deeply proud, but only one chapter of many new chapters yet to come as Friedman Fellows continue to take leadership roles that impact health care worldwide,” says Ronald Lechan, MD, PhD, Dr. Pittas’ Friedman Mentor and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Tufts Medical Center.
This past June, the Friedman Fellows Program came full circle when Dr. Pittas, now a Friedman Mentor, was the keynote speaker at the Friedman Symposium, an annual gathering of all of the Friedman Fellows to share their new discoveries. This year the Symposium took place in conjunction with the American Diabetes Foundation’s Annual Conference, where the greatest minds in diabetes congregate each year. To have the Friedman Symposium held in the midst of what is arguably the world’s greatest brain trust in the field of diabetes demonstrates the importance and respect the Friedman name bears.
Dr. Friedman’s legacy will continue to live on through physician-researchers like Dr. Pittas. His generosity through the Friedman Foundation, combined with his foresight and dedication to create a healthy, sustainable society, will fuel new discoveries in diabetes for decades to come.