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The Lefler Center

for the study of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Anne and Edward Lefler

The Founders

Anne and Edward Lefler pioneered the field of direct mail and materials handling. In 1946 they founded The Mailing House, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA. Over time, they established a substantial nest egg, but the Leflers had no heirs. Edward Lefler died in May 1994, after suffering for ten years from Alzheimer’s disease. In their will, the Leflers specified that most of their estate be used to study the disease, hoping to alleviate the suffering of others like them. The trustee of their estate, Daniel L. Bernstein, undertook to realize the couple’s wishes. In 1995, Dan Bernstein and the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School established The Lefler Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases.

David D. Ginty, PhD
Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology

The Lefler Professorship

The establishment of the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professorship at Harvard Medical School allows the Department of Neurobiology to attract and support an outstanding neuroscientist whose work will complement the output of the Department and whose leadership and mentoring will inspire the younger Lefler Fellows. Dr David Ginty, PhD is the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.  In 2017, Dr Ginty was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, honored for his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

“I am honored to represent the vision of the Leflers and the Bernsteins. Over the past 20 years, their generous support enabled and encouraged us to deepen our understanding of brain development, plasticity, neural circuits and mechanisms that underly behavior and nervous system diseases. Only by understanding the basic processes in brain development and function, can we comprehend what goes wrong in disease states. In the next decade and beyond, through the continued efforts of the Lefler community of scholars, I fully anticipate a world where we can better serve patients and families suffering from nervous system disease, thereby realizing the dream of Edward and Anne Lefler.”

— David Ginty

Joseph Boyd Martin, MD, PhD
Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor Emeritus

The Founding Lefler Professor

Joseph Boyd Martin, MD, PhD, was Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1997-2007, and is the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology, Emeritus.  Dr. Martin’s research focused on hypothalamic regulation of pituitary hormone secretions and application of neurochemical and molecular genetics to better understand the causes of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. In 1980, he established the National Institute of Health-sponsored Huntington’s Disease Center Without Walls. Early work in the Center led to a breakthrough in identifying a genetic marker near the Huntington’s Disease locus, and culminated in the identification of the gene huntingtin, alternations in which give rise to Huntington’s Disease.

The Lefler Center Mission

The Lefler Center supports innovative projects by researchers at all career stages, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and principal investigators. Grants have been awarded to bench and clinical scientists at the Harvard Medical School and at Harvard-affiliated research hospitals. A dynamic community of researchers has been formed and continues over time. Synergies are generated across disciplines, combining perspectives from both research laboratories and clinical care settings. Their research and discoveries are highlighted on this website.

Advisory Committee

Daniel Bernstein, CPA
Trustee, Estate of Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler

Jonathan Cohen, PhD
Bullard Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Michael Eldon Greenberg, PhD
Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology and Chair, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

H. Robert Horvitz, PhD
David H. Koch Professor; Member, McGovern Institute for Brain Research; Member, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.