Lex Frieden

Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Adjunct Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Director Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston


Lex FriedenLex Frieden is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and he is Adjunct Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine.

Frieden also directs the ILRU – Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. ILRU is a research, training and technical assistance program on independent living for people with disabilities and seniors. TIRR is a comprehensive medical rehabilitation center which provides clinical, educational, and research programs pertaining to spinal cord and brain injuries and other disabling conditions.

Frieden was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 26, 2002, as Chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency located in Washington D.C. The Council is charged with making recommendations on disability policy issues to the President and Congress. His term ended in August, 2006.

Mr. Frieden also recently completed an eight year term as a member of the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Standard Rules for Disability. He is immediate past President of Rehabilitation International, a federation of 200 national and international organizations and agencies in 90 countries working for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities and their families within society, and for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

From 1984 to 1988, Mr. Frieden served as Executive Director of the National Council on the Handicapped (now the National Council on Disability). In this capacity, he was instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A graduate of Tulsa University, Mr. Frieden has been honored as a Distinguished Alumnus. He also holds a master’s degree in social psychology from the University of Houston. He has done additional graduate work in rehabilitation psychology at the University of Houston with support from an SRS doctoral fellowship, and he has been awarded a World Rehabilitation Fund Fellowship to study programs for disabled people in Europe. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law (LL.D.) by the National University of Ireland.

Mr. Frieden, a quadriplegic due to spinal cord injury, has been involved in the organization of several groups of disabled individuals including the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and the Houston Coalition for Barrier Free Living. He is past Chairman of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Working in the independent living movement by severely disabled people since the early 1970s, Mr. Frieden has published several books and papers on independent living. He served as a consultant panel member for the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Science and Technology from 1976 through 1978, and he prepared the background paper on Community and Residential Based Housing for the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals in 1977. From 1989 to 1990, he represented the United States on a disability and employment panel at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France.

He has received two Presidential Citations for his work in the field of disability, and he was honored by the U.S. Jaycees in 1983 as one of America’s Ten Outstanding Young Men. In 1998, he received the Henry B. Betts Award for “efforts that significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.”