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[October 28, 2010]  

Dr. Eli Friedman Receives Award in Nephrology from New York Academy of Medicine; Delivers Edward M. Gibbs Lecture 

Click here to view Dr. Friedman's lecture (482 MB)

Eli A. Friedman, MD, distinguished teaching professor of medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, delivered the 2010 Edward M. Gibbs Lecture and received the Award in Nephrology from the New York Academy of Medicine. The subject of Dr. Friedman's talk was "Pandemic Diabetes and Diabetic Kidney Disease." Jeffrey S. Borer, MD, chair of medicine and chief of cardiovascular medicine at SUNY Downstate, introduced Dr. Friedman.

The award is given to physicians in practice in the United States for the best original work in the etiology, pathology, and treatment of the diseases of the kidney. Dr. Friedman spoke on the history of diabetes and the various courses of treatment; the way in which we view diabetes in today’s society; and on the U.S. populations that are most vulnerable to developing diabetes, including older adults, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

Known worldwide for his work in diabetic nephropathy, Dr. Friedman has helped save and extend the lives of many patients suffering from renal disease. A graduate of SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine, Dr. Friedman completed his medical training at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in1961.

After two years as an epidemic intelligence officer for the U.S. Public Health Service’s Communicable Disease Center, he joined the faculty of medicine at Downstate and established the Division of Renal Medicine in the Department of Medicine. Not long after, in 1964, he launched the first federally funded dialysis clinic in the nation. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he has contributed many important firsts, but this remains one of his crowning achievements. 

Dr. Friedman’s hemodialysis program extended the lives of patients who would have faced near-certain death. The first African-American, Hispanic, and Orthodox Jewish patients, as well as the first Roman Catholic priest to receive ordination and the first student to attend medical school while on dialysis, all received treatment through this program, which became a model for the country to follow.

At Downstate, Dr. Friedman has trained and promoted the careers of other recognized leaders in nephrology. One close associate, Barbara Delano, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at Downstate, pioneered home dialysis. This was followed by Dr. Friedman’s own invention of a portable dialyzer, nicknamed the “suitcase kidney,” which gave patients even greater freedom and mobility. Although he stepped down as chief of nephrology in 2009, Dr. Friedman continues to serve as director of academic development in the Department of Medicine.

Since heart disease and renal problems are closely related, much of Dr. Friedman’s clinical research has focused on the course of diabetes and high blood pressure. His work has been recognized by the American College of Physicians, which conferred upon him the honor of Master, as well by many other national and international societies. Dr. Friedman is also the recipient of the 2010 Barney Clark Award from the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs.
In addition to editing nine books and publishing more than 500 peer-reviewed papers, Dr. Friedman has served as president of both the American and International Societies for Artificial Internal Organs and the International Society for Geriatric Nephrology and Urology.  He is consistently listed as a “Best Doctor” in New York magazine and in the international and national Who’s Who.




SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks eighth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.