Fredi Kronenberg was born March 7, 1950 in the Bronx. In high school she studied at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. Furthering her interest in the biological sciences, she received a BS degree from Cornell University (1972) and PhD in physiology from Stanford University (1979) with dissertation titled, “Colonial thermoregulation in honey bees.”
Her post-doctoral research began in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was a trainee in the Neurobehavioral Sciences Research Training Program (1979-1981) and postdoctoral fellow (1981-1982). Her research involved menopause physiology and eventually branched into herbal and botanical remedies for treating menopausal hot flashes, particularly focused on the black cohosh plant Actaea racemosa/Cimicifuga racemosa, native to North America.
In 1989, Kronenberg helped establish the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Prior to that, she ran menopausal support groups in New York City under the auspices of Women’s Association for Research in Menopause (WARM). She continued her work with menopausal support groups into the 1990s.
Within the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Kronenberg established the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center (RHRC) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1993. Under the auspices of the Center, she led several studies involving complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), Chinese traditional medicine, urban ethnobotanical practices, healthy diet choices, herbal supplement market, and the use of dietary phytoestrogens. Center faculty included Columbia University and visiting professors, Michael J. Balick, Mark Blumenthal, Adriane Fugh-Berman, Tieraona Low Dog, Rob McCaleb, Woodson C. Merrel, Marcey Shapiro, and Andrew Weil.
The Center offered CME (Continuing Medical Education) courses “Botanical Medicine in Modern Clinical Practice” and “Integrative Pain Medicine” in addition to a collaborative course with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, “Nutrition and Health,” led by Dr. Andrew Weil. These courses were new to the curriculum in the faculty of medicine and served as an introduction to evidence-based alternative medicine in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S).
In 1999, the VP&S received a 5-year grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)--part of the NIH--to develop a Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Research in Aging, extending the work of the NIH--funded Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research in Women’s Health. This added “center” was housed in the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Throughout her career, Kronenberg produced several academic papers and a great number of talks and visiting lectures. She also served as senior editor for the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine and was on the editorial boards of Menopause: Journal of the North American Menopause Society and Menopause Management.
Kronenberg was director of the Rosenthal Center from its inception until closing due to lack of funding on June 30, 2007. She died of lung cancer April 20, 2017.
The American Botanical Council named the Fredi Kronenberg Award for Excellence in Research and Education in Botanical for Women’s Health in her honor. It was first awarded in 2018.