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Dr. Joseph Friedberg

Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Joseph Friedberg is an innovative thoracic surgeon at Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania. He is pioneering new treatments for lung cancers and pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Friedberg also advocates for lung-sparing surgeries and believes keeping both lungs greatly contributes to a patient’s positive quality of life. Learn more about Dr. Friedberg and get our help connecting with him today.

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About Dr. Friedberg

Dr. Friedberg is a pleural mesothelioma specialist who joined the Temple University Health System in February 2022. He currently serves in multiple roles within the university’s academic, administrative, and medical settings.

Dr. Friedberg is:

  • Co-director of the Temple Health Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program
  • Professor of thoracic medicine and surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
  • Thoracic surgeon-in-chief at Temple University Health System
  • Vice-chair of surgical services in the Department of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery

Dr. Friedberg may be able to help you if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Learn about top questions you can ask to get the answers you need with our free mesothelioma questions download.

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Medical Background

Dr. Friedberg earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with distinction in 1986.

While at Harvard, he was a Greenebaum Research Fellow and worked under Dr. Judah Folkman. The Greenebaum Research Fellowship is a training program that strives to improve clinical oncology by finding ways to move research studies into medical practices.

Upon graduating from Harvard, Dr. Friedberg completed his surgical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He then pursued a residency in otolaryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, followed by a residency in general surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Friedberg later joined the Claude Welch Research Fellowship and completed another fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Prior to joining the Temple University Health System in Pennsylvania, he served as chief of thoracic surgery at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Friedberg’s Career Highlights

  • Developed new light-based therapies to treat mesothelioma
  • First fellow in the late Dr. David Sugarbaker’s thoracic tract program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which would become respected as one of the world’s top mesothelioma training centers
  • Founded the University of Pennsylvania Mesothelioma and Pleural Program
  • Pioneered photodynamic therapy as a mesothelioma treatment

“Being a surgeon is the greatest of privileges. That degree of responsibility for, and trust from, another person is indescribable.”

- Dr. Joseph Friedberg, mesothelioma specialist

Awards and Honors

  • American Chemical Society Fellow
  • America’s Top Doctors
  • America’s Top Doctors for Cancer
  • Best Doctors in America
  • CMS Stage 1 HER
  • Philadelphia Magazine’s Top Doctors 2023

Medical Specializations

As a thoracic surgeon, Dr. Friedberg specializes in surgically treating diseases affecting the chest, including pleural mesothelioma.

He primarily focuses on lung-sparing treatment options for pleural mesothelioma, including using an innovative combination of light-based therapy and vaccines.

Photodynamic Therapy-Generated Autologous Tumor Vaccine

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a photosensitizing drug and a specific type of light. Dr. Friedberg is currently working on a PDT-generated autologous tumor vaccine.

To treat the tumor, the doctor injects the photosensitizer into the patient’s bloodstream. From there, it is absorbed by cells all over the patient’s body. However, the drug remains in cancerous cells longer than it does in healthy cells.

After giving the healthy cells a chance to get rid of the photosensitizer, which is between 24 and 72 hours after the patient was injected, the doctor exposes the tumor to the special light.

This light travels through the body and reacts with the photosensitizer. When the photosensitizing drug is hit with the light, it creates an active form of oxygen. This oxygen then kills the cancer cells that surround it.

DT also attacks the tumor by:

  • Activating Immune System: One way that PDT may treat cancer is by activating the immune system and causing the patient’s own body to fight off the cancer cells.
  • Damaging Tumor Blood Vessels: The second way PDT treats cancer is by damaging the blood vessels in the tumor. This would stop the cancer cells from getting the nutrients they need to grow.

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Lung-Sparing Surgery

Dr. Friedberg is known for his lung-sparing surgery techniques in treating pleural mesothelioma. As the name suggests, this procedure — which can take between 6 and 14 hours — strives to save the lung, diaphragm, and sac around the heart, while removing as much of the cancer as possible from the lung’s lining.

One challenge doctors encounter with treating mesothelioma is that the cancer does not form in one large tumor. Rather, mesothelioma forms in a series of smaller tumors, some of which are too small to see. That is why doctors had to remove the lung and other affected areas.

Lung-sparing surgery is capable of accomplishing a macroscopic complete resection, which means the operation can remove all detectable cancer in the lung’s lining.

While a macroscopic complete resection does mean the patient still has some mesothelioma tumors, the lung-sparing surgery does increase their life expectancy.

Did You Know?

The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is between 12 to 18 months. However, in Dr. Friedberg’s study of lung-sparing surgery, the median survival rate (how long 50% of the patients were alive after treatment) was 35 months.

In the event that the cancer has not spread to the patient’s lymph nodes, the life expectancy is even longer. Dr. Friedberg often combines this surgery with PDT to kill the remaining cancer cells.

Other Research Interests

Dr. Friedberg continually explores new ways to treat mesothelioma patients.

As part of his cancer research, Dr. Friedberg has developed photobrachytherapy.

This treatment uses the following elements to treat cancer:

  • Bioabsorbable plasmonic nanovesicles
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nanophosphors
  • Photosensitizers
  • Radioisotopes

Find out about top treatments for mesothelioma and more in our Free Mesothelioma Guide, shipped right to you.

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Working With Dr. Friedberg

Patients working with Dr. Friedberg can trust that they will be in the hands of a skillful and knowledgeable surgeon.

With his innovative and well-researched treatments, Dr. Friedberg has treated countless patients over the course of his career. He is one of the best doctors in the country for mesothelioma treatment.

For additional information on working with Dr. Friedberg, contact our team today.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Joseph Friedberg. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Joseph Friedberg directly.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You
  1. Fox Chase Cancer Center at Temple Health. (n.d.). Joseph Friedberg, MD, FACS. Retrieved June 5, 2024, from
  2. Temple Health. (February 2022). Dr. Joseph Friedberg Named Thoracic Surgeon-in-Chief of Temple University Health System. Retrieved June 5, 2024, from
  3. U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.) Dr. Joseph Friedberg. Retrieved June 5, 2024, from
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