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Arnold School of Public Health


Daniela Friedman named Chair of the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior

July 1, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Daniela Friedman will mark her ten-year anniversary with the Arnold School next month, but the tenured associate professor of health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) will not be slowing down. Beginning July 1, Friedman will lead the HPEB department as chair, succeeding Professor Edward Frongillo’s ten-year tenure.

Friedman joined the Arnold School for her first academic appointment in 2006 after earning Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Psychology from McMaster University in Canada and then Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Health Studies and Gerontology at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Throughout her career, she has remained committed to work focused on effective communication for healthy aging—an interest that she first discovered during childhood.

HPEB has so many strengths—high-performing students, researchers who are true experts in their specialties, remarkable staff, diverse and committed engagement with the community—and many others.

-Daniela Friedman, HPEB Chair

More specifically, the James G. Zimmer New Investigator Research Award (American Public Health Association) winner’s research centers on health communication and aging with a specific focus on cancer prevention and control and Alzheimer’s disease. She uses mixed methods approaches to assess how diverse populations of older adults access, understand, and use cancer and Alzheimer’s disease risk and prevention information; examine social and contextual influences on comprehension; and study innovative and creative strategies for the development and delivery of accurate, clear, and culturally appropriate health messages and programs.

For this work, she leads and participates in interdisciplinary teams, and her partnerships in scholarship extend beyond the University to academic institutions across the country. The majority of Friedman’s research grants and projects have been through partnerships and networks (e.g., Healthy Aging Research Network, Healthy Brain Research Network, Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, S.C. Cancer Disparities Community Network) where she has learned the importance of collaborations and the many benefits they yield.

Moving forward, we can increase our synergy even further within the department, across the School and the University, and with community partners by focusing on the commonalities in our work.

-Daniela Friedman, HPEB Chair

These experiences have shaped Friedman’s perspective with regard to teaching, mentoring, service, research and leadership, and she intends to apply the lessons she’s learned as she leads HPEB colleagues and students in taking their department to the next level. “HPEB has so many strengths—high-performing students, researchers who are true experts in their specialties, remarkable staff, diverse and committed engagement with the community—and many others,” says Friedman. She’d like to advance these strengths by focusing on possibilities and collaboration to result in innovative ideas, methods and outcomes.

“Moving forward, we can increase our synergy even further within the department, across the School and the University, and with community partners by focusing on the commonalities in our work,” says Friedman, who was the 2015 recipient of the Arnold School’s Faculty Service Award. “For example, different projects might be united by the common topic of disease prevention—even if they focus on different health conditions. The use of similar innovative research methodologies across studies also provides particularly rich opportunities for shared learning and collaboration.” By bringing researchers, students, and practitioners together, Friedman believes that smaller, short-term pilot projects can be transformed into larger and impactful initiatives (e.g., multi-year and multi-institution research grants).

Friedman is also determined to increase the reach of HPEB’s faculty members and students by highlighting and disseminating their work. “Increasing the promotion of the critical work we do here will help us recognize achievements as well as recruit faculty and prospective students who may want to join us,” she says. “In addition, by employing non-standard, but highly effective, methods of disseminating this work, we can better engage the community, partners, and stakeholders at the same time.” One way Friedman has done this is through community forums and developing tools such as plain language briefs (see an example from Friedman's work), an underutilized method of translating scientific research for non-academic audiences (e.g., practitioners, community groups, general public).

Daniela Friedman has progressed through the academic ranks with remarkable success in major grantsmanship and publication of high-quality journal articles...I am very much looking forward to working with her on our administrative team.

-Thomas Chandler, Dean of the Arnold School

Friedman is listening to faculty and students, including the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, and will be working collaboratively with them on planning capacity-building activities, such as journal review clubs, forums, panels, and seminars. The James A. Keith Excellence in Teaching Award winner plans to enhance mentorship and professional development opportunities for both faculty and students. She also looks forward to learning from and with others and expanding upon her own teaching and mentoring strategies.

With these progressive strategies in mind and a collaborative perspective that encourages engagement from all HPEB members, Friedman’s decade at the Arnold School has prepared her well for her new role as chair. “Daniela Friedman has progressed through the academic ranks with remarkable success in major grantsmanship and publication of high-quality journal articles,” says Dean Thomas Chandler. “She is a nationally recognized expert in creative ways to communicate healthy habits effectively to diverse communities, her students have been exemplary for the Arnold School, and she is a gifted mentor of baccalaureate to Ph.D.-level students. She is also kind and funny; important and useful characteristics for a department chair to have in these times. I am very much looking forward to working with her on our administrative team.”