The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Dr. Theodore C. Friedman

Theodore C. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., contributes to public health through many different avenues. From his role in direct patient care, to his many research contributions in peer-reviewed endocrinology journals, to his efforts in educating the lay public, Dr. Friedman’s work aims to increase knowledge and improve overall patient care. As one patient of Dr. Friedman comments, “I have a dream that one day all medical school graduates will have learned to be good listeners before they are granted their diplomas. They will be excited about searching out truth-in a microscope, a vial of blood, or a careful review of patterns. I believe Dr. Friedman already went to this mythical medical school.”

After receiving a B.S. from Stanford University, Dr. Friedman obtained a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the City University of New York, NY, and an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in a combined M.D.-Ph.D. program. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Michigan Hospitals, and subsequently completed a fellowship in Endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health.

Currently, Dr. Friedman is a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where he also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine. At Charles Drew University he is a Professor of Medicine, as well as Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Molecular Medicine, and Metabolism. He is also an endowed professor in Cardio-Metabolic Diseases at CDU and Chief in the Division of Endocrinology at Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service, Ambulatory Care Center (MLK-MACC), where he sees patients in endocrine and diabetes clinics.

Recently, Dr. Friedman has begun using a novel approach with some of his obese patients at MLK-MACC. Dissatisfied with what he was able to accomplish in brief visits with his obese patients, he began a group program. Noting the enormity of the problem of obesity, Dr. Friedman explains, “I think this is the wave of the future for treating something like this.” The program incorporates not just lectures from Dr. Friedman, but instruction from a dietician, cooking demonstrations, a calisthenics video, and interactive sharing by members of the group. Dr. Friedman obtained a grant from CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute) to follow the clinic’s work and apply it in a research project setting. Dr. Friedman plans to expand the group model to some other sites via video conference, and he is applying for a larger grant to expand the project from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Dr. Friedman’s research interests include the effects of drugs of abuse on the endocrine system, adrenal and pituitary disorders, and diabetes and metabolism. In a recent paper, Dr. Friedman and colleagues found that a high fat diet in mice caused greater fat accumulation in the liver in the presence of nicotine. Dr. Friedman comments, “Hepatic steatosis is a huge problem, and there are no good treatments for it—many people who smoke also eat poor diets.” The researchers found that a drug, acipimox, blocked this fat accumulation; they are now working on translating these findings to the clinical realm.

In addition to writing over 100 papers in peer-review journals, Dr. Friedman has written chapters for the well-known textbook, Cecil Essentials of Medicine. Through his website,, Dr. Friedman reaches out to provide information to even more individuals. He also authored a book for the lay public, The Everything Health Guide to Thyroid Disease. Notes Dr. Friedman, “One of my roles is to try to educate patients, students, and doctors about endocrine problems.”

Dr. Friedman speaks positively about his relationship with CDU. “Charles Drew is a great place to work—it has a lot of great researchers that I like to bounce my ideas off of—people are very hard-working and bright. We have accomplished a lot here.”