The Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders was established at Harvard Medical School in May 1995. The Leflers were self-made millionaires who founded The Mailing House, Inc. in Los Angeles in 1946 and became pioneers in the field of mass mailing and material handling. Edward Lefler died in May 1994 after suffering for ten years from Alzheimer's disease. It was the couple's wish to leave the residual funds from their estate to study Alzheimer's disease and other similar diseases. The trustee of their estate, Daniel Bernstein, selected Harvard as the place to establish an intellectual center in their name.
Dan Bernstein and the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School established the Lefler Center in the memory of Edward and Anne for the study of neurodegenerative disorders and in the hope of providing a cure for Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain. The Center supports four interrelated components in order to achieve its goals:
- The establishment of the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professorship at Harvard Medical School allows Department of Neurobiology to attract a world renowned neuroscientist whose work will strengthen the work the Department is currently performing on neurodegeneration and neurodevelopment. Currently, Dr. David Ginty, Ph.D. fills this important faculty chair.
- The Grants Program funds two to four small grants per year for the stimulation and support of truly innovative research. This program serves as a source of timely, flexible support for the kind of innovative new ideas many granting agencies are reluctant to underwrite. The grants allow researchers to generate the data needed to attract more substantial government funding.
- The Fellowship Fund supports the training of pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. The fund seeks to support three or four individuals per year, including the most promising M.D., Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. candidates in Harvard's Neuroscience Program and postdoctoral fellows working on projects relevant to neurodegeneration and neurodevelopment. This program ensures the continuation of the recipients’ education and training, while also ensuring the dissemination of the Lefler legacy throughout the world as these exceptional scientists move on from Harvard and into their careers.
- The Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Symposium provides a forum to feature advances in the fields of neurodegeneration and neurodevelopment, and to facilitate discussion among faculty, fellows, students and other interested parties.