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Jonathan W. Friedberg, MD, MMSc

Dr. Jonathan Friedberg is Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, Chief of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he is also Samuel E. Durand Chair in Medicine and Professor of Hematology/Oncology. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He is also a member of LRF's Scientific Advisory Board.

Jonathan Friedberg, MD, MMSc

A winner of several research awards, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Scholar in Clinical Research, Dr. Friedberg's research interests are in developing novel therapies for patients with Hodgkin and non Hodgkin lymphoma. He is currently involved in early phase trials of several compounds, including fostamatinib disodium and alisertib. Dr. Friedberg, who characterizes both compounds as "exciting," notes that they've already determined that alisertib may have particular efficacy in T-cell lymphomas. "Given limited therapeutic options in that disease, if subsequent trials confirm our initial findings, that would clearly represent an important advance for the field," he says.

In another component of his research, Dr. Friedberg utilizes mature databases with information on thousands of patients to compare treatment modalities and explore a variety of outcomes, which will ultimately help optimize therapy for patients with lymphoma. He calls himself "blessed" to see how outcomes have improved since the beginning of his career, noting that Rituximab was approved for clinical use during his fellowship and was a component of his first clinical trial. "To see the start of rituximab, and where it is now, has been amazing," Dr. Friedberg says, surmising that brentuximab vedotin may have the same impact for Hodgkin lymphoma.

In addition to his research, Dr. Friedberg is Director of the Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester, where the strategic plan focuses on three missions: clinical care, research, and community engagement. He pays tribute to the "world-class team of collaborators" working in the Center's Blood Cancers research program and notes that "our institution has been very supportive of the Cancer Center, and of our efforts in lymphoma." Dr. Friedberg advises patients with lymphoma to seek care at a place with expertise in lymphoma care as well as hematopathology and to ask about (and consider participating in) clinical trials.

Dr. Friedberg's career also demonstrates how important it is for talented researchers to assist the next generation. As a medical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Friedberg studied under Tom Lynch (now director of Yale Cancer Center), finding himself drawn to pursue medical oncology by witnessing Dr. Lynch's enthusiasm, dedication, and compassionate patient care. During his fellowship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the attending physician on Dr. Friedberg's first bone marrow transplant month was Arnold Freedman (with whom Dr. Friedberg now serves on LRF's Scientific Advisory Board). "I loved working with him, and still do! He created a path for me in lymphoma and I have never looked back."

Now, as an award winning teacher himself – he received the University of Rochester's Faculty Academic Mentoring Award last year – Dr. Friedberg mentors Dr. Paul Barr, who received LRF's Career Development Award in 2012 for exploring dual inhibition of B-cell receptor pathway components as a novel lymphoma therapy, a project on which Dr. Friedberg also works. The same award was Dr. Friedberg's first grant in his own career as a clinical researcher, providing support for his efforts to improve monoclonal antibody therapy in lymphoma. Dr. Friedberg is enthusiastic about the impact LRF has had on his career. "In addition to grant support, LRF has provided a means for me to interact with experts in the field from around the world. Participation in the Scientific Advisory Board facilitates such informal interactions," he says. "I am honored to be a member of the SAB, as well as chair the education committee."

Dr. Friedberg's Advice for New Researchers

  1. Do something you love. Given the time investment, and some frustrating parts of research, you need to love the project, and want to answer the question.
  2. Identify mentors early, as well as a clear path to independence. Most people need multiple mentors — given the complexity of research. Make sure some of these mentors have sufficient experience mentoring. And make sure there is a component of the project that can be yours to develop independently in the future.
  3. Work hard. Research is not easy. To be successful, it will take time — weekends, nights, etc. Expect this. It is absolutely the only way to be successful long-term.

To learn more about the LRF research program, or the research and investigators supported by the Foundation please click here.

To read about other Featured LRF Researchers, click here.