A Gift of Growth

Related Story: Partners in Life and Philantropy

It truly is a meeting of the minds.
The union of the Friedman name with Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy reflects both the career and values of Dr. Gerald J. Friedman and Dorothy R. Friedman and the mission of the nutrition school: Applying the best of nutrition and medicine to improve the health and welfare of people around the world.

On October 5, 2001, the nutrition school was renamed the Dr. Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in honor of the remarkable gift to the school by the Friedmans. Dr. Friedman was an early believer in the role nutrition plays in preventing illness, and this was a thread that ran throughout his long and varied career. The accomplishments of the school in research, social policy and clinical practice resonate with the Friedmans, who believe in the value of nutrition research and the spirit of collaboration.

Why Tufts?
The Friedmans' niece and director of the couple's New York Foundation for Medical Research, Jane Friedman, notes that her uncle, a physician for 55 years who is now retired, looked at medicine and health in a far-reaching way. She believes that Tufts is an institution that reflects this outlook: "My uncle always understood that things in the medical world never stand by themselves," Jane Friedman said. "In most institutions, the focus is so narrow, [but] Tufts studies the entire picture."

Last April, the Friedmans endowed a professorship in the department of medicine at Tufts School of Medicine. They also have committed resources to create a research, education and training fund for the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine at the New England Medical Center (NEMC). Illustrating Dr. Friedman's belief that the fields of medicine and nutrition are not isolated, the nutrition school shares a research fellow with the nephrology department and is currently collaborating with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine to create a common fellowship. In addition, the recipient of the endowed chair, Dr. Andrew S. Levey, chief of NEMC's nephrology division, also has an appointment at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA).

This familiarity with Tufts prompted Jane Friedman to look at the nutrition school as a possible recipient of another Friedman gift. The decision to endow the school was sealed when Judy Kennedy, director of research for the Friedman Foundation, contacted the American Dietetic Association Foundation and inquired as to which institution was doing the most cutting-edge research in the field. The answer Kennedy received was to the point: "That's easy," said Mary Beth Whalen, executive director and vice president of the foundation. "Tufts University, without question." Jane Friedman made the decision to direct the Friedmans' philanthropy to the nutrition school, remarking that "naming the school is a most fitting way of honoring my aunt and uncle."

Two Decades of Science and Policy
The celebration of this naming gift, the largest donation in the school's history, began early the morning of October 5 with a scientific symposium on Tufts' health sciences campus in Boston that highlighted the nutrition school's work of the last 20 years and demonstrated how nutrition science impacts policy. As Dean Irwin H. Rosenberg described it, "This is a celebration of the naming and also a celebration of the concepts at this symposium and the relationship between nutrition science and policy." Four case studies were chosen to demonstrate this relationship.

The work in both the scientific and policy arenas was represented by Tufts faculty and by distinguished experts from other institutions. Some acknowledged how far things had come from the school's beginnings two decades ago: "I started teaching early in the history of the school, when the school was just a glimmer in [former Tufts president Jean] Mayer's eye," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., professor at the nutrition school and senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Research Program at the HNRCA.

Vernon Young, Ph.D., from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pointed out that the science of nutrition is relatively young, and Tufts should be proud of the contribution it is making in the field. He also noted the challenges faced by the school and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach and the uniting of nutritional biologists, technologists and policy experts.

In fact, the symposium mirrored Young's charge to collaborate and unite different experts, as the participants were a blend of basic scientists, social scientists and clinicians. It was an expert from government, Elizabeth Yetley, Ph.D., lead scientist for nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration, who said there is a great need for academic institutions to help in establishing policy based on scientific insights. "The independent voices of scientists carry great weight," she said.

The issue of science informing public policy was raised by Beatrice Lorge Rogers, Ph.D., dean for academic affairs and professor of economics and food policy at the nutrition school. As Rogers put it, "Science informs policy...and the school [also] has to recognize a science of policy." Continuing in this vein, Patrick Webb, Ph.D., professor at the nutrition school and director of the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition Program, reminded the audience that "humanitarian action [also] impacts science," referring to the current crisis in Afghanistan.

Eileen Kennedy, Ph.D., president of the Global Nutrition Institute, summed up what many had implied in their presentations: "The [Gerald J. and Dorothy R.] Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy is uniquely positioned to make a major contribution…"

Rosenberg echoed Kennedy, pointing out that "this endowment comes with an expectation from the Friedman Foundation that this is a school that will continue to be challenged by the needs of hunger, health and nutrition-and we will continue to focus our energies."

A School is Named
It was then time for the official naming, presided over by Tufts University president Lawrence S. Bacow, who noted that it was only the third time in the 150-year history of Tufts that a school had been named. He added that Dr. Friedman would have been delighted by what was discussed at the symposium. (The Friedmans were unable to attend the celebration.) "Throughout his career, Dr. Friedman was passionate in his concern for basic science...and very interested in how one takes [scientific] theory and moves it to practice," Bacow said. He noted that linking the Friedman name with the nutrition school is particularly significant because the school is not only committed to great teaching and research, but to communicating the results of this work to the outside world.

The president then introduced Jane Friedman, who thanked the participants for "sharing your knowledge, your enthusiasm and your wonderful work." She went on to talk about her uncle's career and her goal to "honor my uncle's commitments by supporting the things in which he believed."

The Celebration Continues
Several hours later, faculty, staff, alumni and friends gathered at a gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston to commemorate the naming of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and as Bacow said, "the extraordinary philanthropy and lifelong commitment of the Friedmans."

No celebration is complete without a toast. Raising his glass, Ed Budd, a Tufts trustee and chairman of the nutrition overseers, said that as an overseer, he is proud and honored to recognize the Friedmans' gift. And as a way of honoring the Friedmans, a video, "Making a Difference," created by faculty, staff and alumni, highlighted the achievements of the nutrition school and the HNRCA.

Another way to pay tribute to the Friedmans, Bacow observed, "is through scholarship." Fittingly, doctoral student Ann Yelmokas McDermott, N02, spoke about her experience. "At age 40, I was given a fantastic gift-a scholarship to the nutrition school." She said that the nutrition school is full of passionate people with high expectations and so diverse it resembles a mini-United Nations. In her first few days at Tufts, McDermott's husband would ask how her day went, and she would reply, "I met another genius today-the building is full of geniuses." McDermott noted the responsibility that comes with earning a degree from the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and said her charge would be to "think critically, conduct social research and lead improvements in nutrition."

After President Bacow presented Jane Friedman with two Tufts Presidential Medals for her aunt and uncle, it was time for her to reflect on the gift in the context of the Friedmans' lives and the current world circumstances. "Let me tell you about my uncle," Jane Friedman began. She pointed out his concern and compassion for his patients and characterized him as a lifelong learner, or as she put it, "My uncle the doctor was my uncle the detective." She spoke about her uncle's belief in the significance of nutrition and joked that all his patients received a diet for "what they did and did not have." Her aunt, Dorothy Friedman, Jane Friedman continued, was a talented recording artist "whose dedication to my uncle's career overrode her own."

To conclude, Jane Friedman described her feelings about the events of September 11. "These events underscore the importance of providing a healthier, safer and more nurturing existence for all human beings. Your work has never been more important or more needed. We trust this gift will enable you to meet the challenges you continue to face in creating a better world."






© 2001 Trustees of Tufts University, all rights reserved.