David Hafler, MD, named chief and chair of neurology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale School of Medicine

Physician-scientist David A. Hafler, MD, a leader in the effort to better understand the molecular basis of multiple sclerosis (MS), has been named chief and chair of neurology at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) and Yale School of Medicine (YSM). His appointment is effective September 1, 2009.

An expert on the mechanisms of autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, Hafler was previously director of molecular immunology in the department of neurology at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston. He was the Jack, Sadie, and David Breakstone Professor of Neurology (Neuroscience) at Harvard, and a neurologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Hafler graduated magna cum laude in 1974 from Emory University with combined BS and MS degrees in biochemistry, and from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. He completed his internship in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins and a neurology residency at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, where he was chief resident. He received training in immunology at Rockefeller University and was a fellow in neurology and immunology at Harvard, where he joined the faculty in 1984.

Hafler has been a major force in defining the cause of multiple sclerosis. He was among the first to apply human T cell cloning to human disease, defining the targets of the activated immune cells in patients with MS. More recently, Hafler became an associate member of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT and founded an international collaboration with scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of California, San Francisco. The group led an initiative to solve the genetic basis of multiple sclerosis, culminating in the first whole genome scan identifying the genes associated with MS. The work was published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hafler has more than 300 publications in the field of autoimmunity and immunology and serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the Journal of Experimental Medicine. He is a co-founder and past-president of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, a member of the executive council of the International Society of Neuroimmunology, and is active with the National Institutes of Health Immune Tolerance Network and the Autoimmunity Prevention Center, leading the NIH grant at Harvard. Hafler has been elected to membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Neurological Association, and the Alpha Omega Society. He was a Harvey Weaver Scholar of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and is a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Merit Award recipient from the NIH.

For more information, contact Mark D’Antonio (YNHH) (mark.dantonio@ynhh.org or 203-688-2493) or Bill Hathaway (William.hathaway@yale.edu or 203-432-1322.

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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322