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Biography

Deborah I. Friedman, M.D., M.P.H., is a Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and the Department of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

A neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Friedman is Chief of the Division of Headache Medicine and the founding Director of UT Southwestern’s Headache and Facial Pain Program.

She is American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology-certified in neurology, with subspecialty certification in headache medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties.

Dr. Friedman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Headache Society, and the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society.

Her research interests include pseudotumor cerebri (idiopathic intracranial hypertension), ischemic optic neuropathy, and migraine therapy.

She has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles, authored or co-authored 15 book chapters, and delivered more than 200 lectures and presentations related to her work.

Dr. Friedman is active in many national and international organizations related to her subspecialties. She also serves as the associate editor of Headache, on the editorial boards of Neurology Reviews and Headache Currents, and as a reviewer for a number of neurology journals.

She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2011.

Dr. Friedman earned her medical degree at Tulane University Medical School. She completed a neurology residency at Baylor College of Medicine and a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles.

She also holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

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Meet Dr. Friedman

Neuro-Ophthalmologist in Dallas

Many people who suffer from debilitating migraine and cluster headaches are desperate for relief. UT Southwestern Medical Center neuro-ophthalmologist and headache expert Dr. Deborah Friedman is often able to provide it.

“I see the most challenging and complex headache patients, and we’re able to correctly diagnose and treat the majority of them very successfully,” Dr. Friedman says. “They’re highly motivated to get better, and we can usually help them do that.”

Dr. Friedman is Chief of the Division of Headache Medicine and the founding Director of UT Southwestern’s Headache and Facial Pain Program. She is also one of only a handful of U.S. physicians with special expertise in evaluating and treating conditions that overlap the fields of headache medicine and neuro-ophthalmology.

“My clinical niche is the interface of headache and the eyes and vision,” she says.

One condition in that niche is idiopathic intracranial hypertension – high blood pressure in the brain that has no known cause. Also called pseudotumor cerebri syndrome, the condition affects women of childbearing age and can lead to ongoing headaches and blindness if not successfully treated.

Dr. Friedman is also an expert in treating spontaneous intracranial hypotension – low blood pressure in the brain – which can cause headaches, as well.

Making the Right Diagnosis

“I love headache medicine because we can make people feel better, which is incredibly rewarding,” she says. “Patients tell us, ‘I had horrible headaches all my life, and nobody knew what to do. You gave me my life back, and I’m so grateful.’”

In most cases, she says, the key to effective headache treatment is correct diagnosis.

“The number-one thing we do in the Headache and Facial Pain Program is try to make the right diagnosis.”

Dr. Friedman also gets satisfaction from sharing her knowledge with others.

“I really enjoy being able to help people as an educator,” she says. “I’m proud of what I’m able to teach my patients, trainees, colleagues, and others.”

Thankfully, people with headache disorders have reason to be optimistic.

“There are a lot of new things going on in headache medicine – from new delivery systems like intranasal sprays, injectables, and monoclonal antibodies to state-of-the-art implanted stimulators,” Dr. Friedman says. “It’s a great time to work in this field.”

Note: Dr. Friedman’s patients require a referral and must already have been seen by a neurologist.


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Education & Training
  • Fellowship - UCLA/Doheny Eye Institute (1987-1989), Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (2002-2008), Public Health
  • Residency - Baylor College of Medicine (1984-1987), Neurology
  • Internship - Good Samaritan Hospital (1983-1984), Internal Medicine
  • Medical School - Tulane University Medical School (1979-1983)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Academy of Neurology (1985), Chair of Headache and Facial Pain Section 2011-2013
  • North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (1988), Past Board Chair, President, President Elect, Secretary, Treasurer
  • Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (1988)
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (1990)
  • American Headache Society (1998), Board of Directors 2004-2010, Legislative Affairs Liaison, Ethics Committee
  • International Headache Society (2003)
  • United Council for Neurologic Specialties (2005), Headache Medicine Examination Committee
Honors & Awards
  • Fellow, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society 1991
  • Fellow of American Academy of Neurology 1998
  • 2000 Notable American Women 2000
  • Fellow of American Headache Society 2005
  • Who's Who in America 2011
  • US News and World Report Top Doctors 2011
  • Rochester Business Alliance Women's Council 2011, Athena Award Finalist
  • Best Doctors in America 2011, Since 1998
Books & Publications
Research
  • Migraine Therapy
  • Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (Pseudotumor Cerebri)

Clinical Focus

  • Headaches
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology Disorders

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Q&A by Dr. Friedman

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