Elizabeth (Beth) Pegg Frates, MD is a pioneer in Lifestyle Medicine education, is an award-winning teacher at Harvard, and currently works with patients to help them adopt and sustain healthy habits. Dr. Frates’s interest in and passion for wellness started well before medical school. When Dr. Frates was 18 years old, her father suffered a heart attack and a stroke. He was only 52 at the time. This event sparked her interest in medicine, physiatry, and stroke, in particular. Dr. Frates went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard College, majoring in both psychology and biology. She then attended Stanford Medical School, interned at Mass General Hospital, and completed her residency in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School where she served as Chief Resident. After residency, Dr. Frates focused on stroke with an emphasis on stroke prevention. Fascinated empowering people to adopt healthy habits, Dr. Frates pursued further training in behavior change through health and wellness coaching programs as well as motivational interviewing training.
Since 1996, Dr. Frates has been on faculty at Harvard Medical School and has won multiple teaching awards for her work in many different pre-clinical core courses covering topics including nutrition, the musculoskeletal system, the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and an introduction to the medical profession. She also developed and taught a college Lifestyle Medicine curriculum at the Harvard Extension School, which is one of the most popular courses offered at the school and was chosen as a case study for successful courses. In an effort to guide other instructors and professors seeking to create their own Lifestyle Medicine program, Dr. Frates made the syllabus available online as a template through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM).
In 2008, Dr. Frates developed the concept of a Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group (LMIG) for medical schools that do not currently offer a course on Lifestyle Medicine and has been successfully running an LMIG at Harvard Medical School (HMS) since that time. These LMIGs offer a parallel curriculum for students interested in healthy habits to learn about basic concepts in Lifestyle Medicine through lunch and learn lectures. As Board Liaison for the Professionals In Training (PiT) at ACLM, Dr. Frates created standardized PowerPoints on Lifestyle Medicine basics, exercise prescription, nutrition, and behavior change for faculty and students wanting to launch LMIGs at their school. Dr. Frates and her family also created the Donald A. Pegg Award in memory of her father to provide additional support to students starting LMIGs and cover travel expenses to the national ACLM meeting. After being elected to the Board of Directors at ACLM, Dr. Frates continued to define the scope of this new specialty by serving as a board item writer for the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine, which is the first certifying body for Lifestyle Medicine. In recognition of these contributions, Dr. Frates was voted president of ACLM in August 2020.
Dr. Frates is also an accomplished author, having published several books, medical textbooks, and calendars. After co-authoring a book titled “Life After Stroke: The Guide to Recovering Your Health and Preventing Another Stroke”, Dr. Frates spent a great deal of time lecturing and writing about health and prevention topics, including nutrition and exercise. More recently, her book titled “The Lifestyle Medicine Handbook: An Introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits” was included in a list of the 100 Best Medicine Books of All Time by BookAuthority.
Despite her extensive work as a public figure in Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Frates continues to work closely with individuals and groups seeking to implement healthy behavioral changes. As Director of Wellness Programming at the Stroke Institute for Research and Recovery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Frates created and implemented a 12-step wellness program, PAVING the Path to Wellness™ for patients and providers. As Director of Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness for the Department of Surgery at Mass General Hospital, she helped craft a unique wellness initiative for their Frigelleto Grant to help bring joy back to medicine. Dr. Frates also sees patients through her private practice, Wellness Synergy, LLC.