Elliot Friedman, PhD

Research Interests

Physiological regulation in middle and later life, psychological well-being and health, biopsychosocial integration, successful aging


I have always been interested in how psychological experiences affect biological processes related to health. As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I pursued training in behavioral neuroscience and immunology, and my doctoral research examined the immunological consequences of psychological stress as well as how behavior is affected by chemicals released by the immune system in response to viruses or bacteria. My postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Diego focused on abnormal immune function in a genetic animal model of depression. After teaching at Williams College for a number of years, I became increasingly interested in the links between social context and health, and I returned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue additional training in population health through the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars program. As an RWJ scholar, I began my current research program centered on the connections between psychological well-being and biological functioning in older adults. I joined the HDFS department at Purdue in 2012.

My research continues to focus on health-related biological processes – most notably circulating levels of inflammatory proteins – and examines the ways in which they are patterned by social factors (e.g. socioeconomic status; discrimination), psychological functioning, and behavior (e.g. sleep) interacting with one another over time. I am particularly interested in aging as a biopsychosocial process and the extent to which positive psychological functioning may slow or compensate for the health effects of changes and challenges in later life.

My research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In the News

WXIN (Fox Indianapolis)
Think 4 Hours of Sleep is Enough, Purdue Sleep Experts Say Think Again

Selected Publications

  • Rector, J. L., Marceau, K., & Friedman, E. M. (2019). Moderation of the association between chronic medical conditions and functional limitations over time by physical activity: Effects of age. Journal of Gerontology, Medical Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glz020

  • Rector, J. L., Tay, L., Weise, C. W., & Friedman, E. M. (2019). Relative sensitivity of cortisol indices to psychosocial and physical health factors. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213513

  • Friedman, E. M., & Shorey, C. (2019). Inflammation in multimorbidity and disability: An integrative review. Health Psychology, 38: 791-801.

  • Friedman, E. M., Ruini, C., Foy, C. R., Jaros, L., Love, G., & Ryff, C. D. (2019). Lighten UP! A community-based group intervention to promote eudaimonic well-being in older adults: A multi-site replication with 6 month follow-up, Clinical Gerontologist, 42:387-397. doi:10.1080/07317115.2019.1574944

  • Mishra, A. A., Friedman, E. M., Christ, S. L. and Denning, M. (2019), The association of psychological well‐being with disablement processes in a national sample. Applied Psychology Health Well‐Being, doi:10.1111/aphw.12152

  • Rector, J. L., Christ, S. L., & Friedman, E. M. (2019). Well-being and long-term physical activity participation in midlife adults: A latent class analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 53, 53-64.

  • Friedman, E. M., Mroczek, D. K., & Christ, S. L. (2018). Multimorbidity, inflammation, and disability: A longitudinal mediational analysis. Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease. https://doi.org/10.1177/2040622318806848

  • Wiese, C. W., Chen, Z. J., Tay, L., Friedman, E. M., & Rector, J. L. (2018), The role of affect on physical health over time: A cross‐lagged panel analysis over 20 years. Applied Psychology-Health and Well‐Being. doi:10.1111/aphw.12149

  • Friedman, E. M., Ruini, C., Foy, R., Jaros, L., Sampson, H., & Ryff, C. D. (2017). Lighten UP! A community-based group intervention to promote psychological well-being in older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 21: 199-205.

  • Friedman, E. M. (2016). Self-reported sleep problems prospectively increase risk of disability: Findings from the Survey of Midlife Development In the United States (MIDUS). Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 64, 2235-2243.

  • Lemola, S., Lederman, T., & Friedman, E. M. (2013). Variability of sleep duration is related to subjective sleep quality and subjective well-being. PLoS One, 8, e71292, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071292

  • Friedman, E. M., & Ryff, C. D. (2012). Living well with medical co-morbidities: A biopsychosocial perspective. Journals of Gerontology, Psychological Sciences, 67, 535-544.

  • Hale, L., Hill, T., Friedman, E., Nieto, J., Galvao, L., Engelman, C., Malecki, K., & Peppard, P. (2012). Perceived neighborhood disorder, sleep quality, and health status: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. Social Science & Medicine, 79, 16-22.

  • Herd, P., Friedman, E. M., & Karraker, A. (2012). The social patterns of a biological risk factor for disease: Race, gender, socioeconomic position, and C-reactive protein. Journals of Gerontology, Social Sciences, 67, 503-513.

  • Friedman, E. M., & Herd, P. (2010). Income, education, and inflammation: Differential associations in a national probability sample (the MIDUS study). Psychosomatic Medicine, 72, 290-300.

  • Krueger, P. M., & Friedman, E. M. (2009). The correlates of sleep duration in the United States: A cross-sectional population based study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 169, 1052-1063.

  • Friedman, E. M., Hayney, M., Love, G. D., Singer, B. H., & Ryff, C. D. (2007). Plasma interleukin-6 and soluble IL-6 receptors are associated with psychological well-being in aging women. Health Psychology, 26, 305-313.

  • Friedman, E. M., Love, G. D., Davidson, R., Urry, H., Rosencranz, M., Singer, B. H., & Ryff, C. D. (2007). Socioeconomic status predicts subjective and objective sleep quality in aging women. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 682-691.

  • Friedman, E. M., Hayney, M., Love, G. D., Davidson, R., Urry, H., Rosencranz, M., Singer, B. H., & Ryff, C. D. (2005). Social relationships, sleep quality, and interleukin-6 in aging women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102, 18757-18762.

Invited Chapters

  • Friedman, E. M., Lebreton, B., Fuzzell, L., & Wehrspann, E. (2018). Biopsychosocial patterning of multimorbidity and its consequences. In C. D. Ryff & R. F. Krueger (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of integrative health science, pp. 221-235. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Friedman, E. M., & Ryff, C. D. (2012). Theoretical approaches: Biopsychosocial approach to positive aging. In S. K. Whitbourne & M. Sliwinski (Eds.), Handbook of adult development and aging (pp. 3-24). Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing.

  • Friedman, E. M. (2012). Well-being and immunity in older age. In S. C. Segerstrom (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of psychoneuroimmunology (pp. 37-62). New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Gruenewald, T. L., Seeman, T. E., Karlamangla, A. S., Friedman, E., & Evans, W. (2012). Biological imprints of social status: Socioeconomic gradients in biological markers of disease risk. In B. Wolfe, B. Evans, & T. Seeman (Eds.), Biological consequences of socioeconomic inequalities (pp. 63-102). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.


  • 2004-2006 Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • 1993-1996 Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California, San Diego

  • 1993 PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • 1985 B.A., Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY


  • 2013-2018, National Institute on Aging (R0-AG041750). Living Well With Later Life Multimorbidity: A Biopsychosocial Approach. Role: Principal Investigator.

  • 2011-2012, Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) Pilot Project Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Promoting Well-Being in the Elderly: A Pilot Intervention with Community Partnership. Role: Principal Investigator

  • 2010-2015, National Institute on Aging (R01-AG036838). The REST Study: A Longitudinal, Bidirectional Examination of Retirement and Sleep. PI: Paul Peppard, UW-Madison. Role: Co-Investigator

  • 2009-2014, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R01-HL062252). Epidemiology of Sleep-disordered Breathing in Adults. PI: Terry Young, UW-Madison. Role: Co-Investigator

  • 2009-2011, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (RC2-HL101468). Novel Population Health Approach to Address CVD and Pulmonary Health Disparities. PI: F. Javier Nieto, UW-Madison. Role: Co-Investigator

  • 2007-2012, National Institute on Aging (K01-AG029381). Psychosocial Functioning and Inflammation: An Integrative Analysis. Role: Principal Investigator

  • 2005-2006, University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Aging and Cancer Pilot Project grant. Aging and Cancer in the MIDUS National Health Study. PI: Carol Ryff, UW-Madison. Role: Co-investigator

  • 2005, Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program Research Grant. Psychological Well-being and Mononuclear Cell Function in MIDUS National Health Study. Role: Principal Investigator

  • 2002-2004, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (R15-AI52336). Depression and Immunity: Behavioral and CNS Mechanisms. Role: Principal Investigator

  • 1994-1996, National Institute of Mental Health (F32-MH10881). Depression: Sleep Disturbance and Interleukin-1. Role: Principal Investigator

Professional Service

Journal Review

  • Psychosomatic Medicine (Editorial Board member)

  • Brain, Behavior and Immunity

  • Health Psychology

  • Journals of Gerontology, Psychological Sciences

  • Journal of Psychosomatic Research

  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  • Social Science and Medicine

Grant Review

NIH Study Section (MESH – Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotions, Stress, and Health; Standing member), April, 2009; October, 2009; February, 2011


Elliot Friedman

William & Sally Berner Hanley Professor of Gerontology

(Pronouns: he/him/his)

Courtesy Appointment:
   Psychological Sciences

Faculty Associate:
   Center on Aging and the Life
   Center on Poverty and Health
   Department of Public Health

(PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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