Center for International Health Research
Rhode Island Hospital

Jennifer Friedman, MD, PhD, MPH

  • Director, Center for International Health Research
  • Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, Department of Pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University
  • Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University

Jennifer Friedman, MD, PhD, MPH is a professor of pediatrics at Brown Medical School. Since 1995, she has led population-based studies in Brazil, western Kenya, and the Philippines.

She designed and implemented a study of water contact patterns in a cohort of 86 volunteers in an S. mansoni endemic area of Brazil. Direct observation of water contact patterns were compared with self-reported contact.

As a postdoctoral Fulbright fellow in western Kenya, Friedman led a study of the impact of insecticide-treated bednets on malnutrition and body composition in 867 school-age children. In addition, she participated in the design and execution of malaria morbidity surveillance for outcomes in pregnancy and in children under five years of age.

Friedman has also participated in basic science studies of the mechanisms of hepatocyte invasion by malaria sporozoites. Together with Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD, she has studied the relationship between pro-inflammatory cytokines and malnutrition in an area of intense perennial transmission of malaria in western Kenya.

Friedman is currently leading a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded population-based study in the Philippines examining pro-inflammatory mediators of malnutrition and anemia in S. japonicum. For this project, she has developed and field deployed a culturally adapted questionnaire that allows quantification of socio-economic status. In addition, together with Kurtis, she has developed multiplexed lab assays to support hypotheses involving malnutrition (leptin, albumin) and anemia (ferritin, erythropoietin, soluble transferrin receptor).

Friedman's research addresses how parasitic diseases, particularly malaria and schistosomiasis, cause morbidity for pregnant women and children and have focused on how schistosomiasis causes anemia and undernutrition. Her research has identified anemia of inflammation as a primary cause of schistosomiasis related anemia. In addition, studies suggest that pro-inflammatory cytokines may mediate under-nutrition in the context of S. japonicum, due to their cachexia and anorexia inducing effects.

Friedman's current studies seek to quantify the burden of S. japonicum infection during pregnancy and begin to understand the possible mechanisms, including placental inflammation, maternal anemia of inflammation and maternal cachexialanorexia. A recently completed NIAID-funded, randomized, controlled trial of praziquantel given to pregnant women in Leyte, the Philippines, at 12-16 weeks gestation, will further our understanding of the impact of schistosomiasis on human pregnancy.

Learn more about Jennifer Friedman, MD, PhD, and view her publications (