Dean, Harvard Medical School
Term Trustee, 2013 - 2017
Flier was born in New York City. He received a BS from City College of New York in 1968, and an MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1972, graduating with the Elster Award for Highest Academic Standing. Following residency training in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital from 1972 to 1974, Flier moved to the National Institutes of Health as a Clinical Associate. In 1978, he joined the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, serving as Chief of the Diabetes Unit at Beth Israel Hospital until 1990, when he was named chief of the hospital's Endocrine Division.
In 2002, Flier was named Chief Academic Officer of BIDMC, a newly created senior position responsible for research and academic programs. He worked with Beth Israel Deaconess academic department chairs to ensure the quality and breadth of academic programs at the Medical Center, through which most Harvard Medical School students pass. He also served as the formal liaison to Harvard Medical School, sitting on the Council of Academic Deans.
Flier is one of the country’s leading investigators in the areas of obesity and diabetes. His research has produced major insights into the molecular mechanism of insulin action, the molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance in human disease, and the molecular pathophysiology of obesity. He was one of the first to demonstrate that diet-induced obesity in rodents is associated with increased leptin expression, and that short-term starvation is associated with decreased leptin expression and blood levels. His proposal that leptin serves as a switch from the fed to the starved state has fundamentally shaped the discourse of the field.
Flier has authored over 200 scholarly papers and reviews and has held many editorial positions, including Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and has served on the Editorial Boards of Molecular Endocrinology, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, and the American Journal of Medicine. He is currently on the Board of Consulting Editors of Science Magazine.
An elected member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Flier’s honors also include the Eli Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association, the Berson Lecture of the American Physiological Society, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Athens. He has been the recipient of a five-year $500,000 Unrestricted Metabolic Research Grant by Bristol-Myers Squibb and the 2003 Edwin B. Astwood Lecture Award from the Endocrine Society. In 2005, he received the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association, its highest scientific honor. In 2010, Flier was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Edinburgh and last year was awarded the 2011 Rolf Luft Award for Metabolic Research by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dr. Flier is married to Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, MD, who is also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and with whom he has collaborated on research in the area of neuroendocrine control of body weight. They have two daughters, Lydia and Sarah, and live in Newton, Mass.