Each fall, the Department of Neurobiology hosts a symposium on research related to neurodegenerative and developmental research. The Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders supports this symposium with an endowed fund. The symposium provides a forum to feature advances in the field and to facilitate discussion among faculty, fellows, students and other interested parties.

*Next Lefler Symposium  - December 14th, 2017

Connie Cepko, Ph.D.
Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience
Harvard Medical School
Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Cepko is the Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She received her PhD degree from MIT, working with Phillip Sharp, and remained at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Richard Mulligan, where she developed some of the first retrovirus vectors. Her current research is focused on the development and diseases of the central nervous system, with an emphasis on the retina. Her laboratory uses molecular and cellular methods to address questions regarding the mechanisms of cell fate determination. They also have been developing gene therapy to prolong vision in genetic forms of blindness. In order to trace neurons that form circuits, they have developed viral vectors based upon VSV as a transsynaptic tracer. To enable the manipulation of specific cell types in vivo in model and non-model organisms, they have developed new tools based upon nanobodies.

Dr. Cepko is a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She has launched and directed two PhD graduate programs, and is currently serving as the Co-Director of the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine Program.

The general format of the symposium includes a talk by a Department faculty recipient of a Lefler Small Grant, two short talks by recipients of Lefler Fellowships, and a Lecture by a leader in the field of neurodegenerative and developmental research. Past Lefler Lecturers have been:

  • 2016: Richard Tsien, New York University
  • 2015: Krishna Shenoy, Stanford University
  • 2014: Ben Barres, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 2013: Jeremy Nathans, Johns Hopkins University
  • 2012: David Ginty, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • 2011: Roberto Malinow, UCSD
  • 2010: Fred H. Gage, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • 2009: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, University of California, San Diego
  • 2008: Mark F. Bear, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2007: Eric Nestler, UT Southwestern Medical Center -Recording of 2007 Lefler Lecture (requires Real Media player)
  • 2006: 10th Anniverary Celebration Symposium -"Birth, Death, and Repair in the Brain", Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, UCSF, Christopher Henderson, Columbia University, Susan McConnell, Stanford University, Dennis Selkoe, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Gerald Fischbach, Columbia University
  • 2005: Susan Lindquist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2004: Robert H. Brown, Jr., Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 2003: H. Robert Horvitz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2002: Lawrence S.B. Goldstein, University of California, San Diego
  • 2001: Huda Zoghbi, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 2000: Allison Doupe, University of California, San Francisco
  • 1999: Kenneth Fischbeck, National Institutes of Heatlh
  • 1998: Stanley Korsmeyer, Harvard Medical School/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute