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.

Selected Publications

  • 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.

  • Friedman, E. M., Christ, S. L., & Mroczek, D. K. (2015). Inflammation partially mediates the association of multimorbidity and functional limitations in a national sample of middle-aged and older adults – the MIDUS study. Journal of Aging and Health,  27, 843-863 , doi:10.1177/0898264315569453.

  • Friedman, E. M., Ruini, C., & Ryff, C. D. (2015). Lighten UP! A community-based group intervention to promote psychological well-being in older adults. Aging and Mental Health. Advance Online Publication.

  • Ryff, C. D., Radler, B., & Friedman, E. M. (2015). Persistent psychological well-being predicts improved self-rated health over 9-10 years: Longitudinal evidence from MIDUS. Health Psychology Open. Advance Online Publication.

  • 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

  • Zuelsdorff, M. S., Engelman, C. D., Friedman, E. M., Koscik, R. L., Jonaitis, E. M., La Rue, A., & Sager, M. A. (2013). Stressful events, social support, and cognitive function in middle-aged adults with a family history of Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Aging and Health, 25, 944-959.

  • 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.

  • Ryff, C. D., Friedman, E. M., Fuller-Rowell, T. E., Dienberg Love, G., Morozink, J. A., Radler, B. T., & Tsenkova, V. (2012). Varieties of resilience in MIDUS. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 792-806.

  • Ryff, C. D., Friedman, E. M., Morozink, J. A., & Tsenkova, V. (2012). Psychological resilience in adulthood and later life. Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 32, 73-92.

  • Friedman, E. M. (2011). Sleep quality, social engagement, and inflammation: An integrative analysis in a national sample. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1231(1), 23-34.

  • Greenfield, E. A., Lee, C., Friedman, E. M., & Springer, K. W. (2011). Childhood abuse as a risk factor for poor sleep quality in adulthood: Evidence from a US national study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40, 245-256.

  • 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.

  • Morozink, J. A., Ryff, C. D., Friedman, E. M., & Coe, C. L. (2010). Socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of interleukin-6 in the MIDUS sample. Health Psychology, 29, 626-635.

  • Friedman, E. M., Williams, D. R., Singer, B. H., & Ryff, C. D. (2009). Chronic discrimination predicts higher circulating levels of E-selectin in a national sample: The MIDUS study. Brain Behavior & Immunity, 23, 684-692.

  • 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.

  • Ryff, C. D., Love, G. D., Muller, D., Urry, H., Friedman, E. M., Davidson, R., & Singer, B. (2006). Psychological well-being and ill-being: Do they have distinct or mirrored biological correlates? Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics, 75, 85-95.

  • 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.

  • Singer, B. H., Friedman, E. M., Seeman, T. E., Fava, G. A., & Ryff, C. D. (2005). Protective environments and health status: Cross-talk between human and animal studies. Neurobiology of Aging, 26, 113-118.

Invited Chapters

  • 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.

  • Friedman, E. M. (2010). Stress and immune function. In C. A. McQueen (Ed.), Comprehensive toxicology, 5, 531-547. Oxford: Elsevier.

  • Irwin, M. R., & Friedman, E. M. (1999). Does psychological depression cause immune suppression in humans? In M. Schedlowski & U. Tuwes (Eds.), Psychoneuroimmunology: An interdisciplinary introduction (pp. 327-340). New York: Plenum Press.


  • 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; Ad Hoc member), April, 2009; October, 2009; February, 2011

Faculty member Faculty of 1000 (online post-publication peer review) 

Elliot Friedman

William & Sally Berner Hanley Associate Professor of Gerontology

Courtesy Appointment:
   Psychological Sciences

Faculty Associate:
   Center on Aging and the Life
   Center on Poverty and Health
   HHS Public Health Graduate

(PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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