Dr. David Hafler, one of the world's top experts on multiple sclerosis, is leaving Boston for Yale, the university said today.
Director of molecular immunology in the department of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Hafler will become chief of neurology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and chair of neurology at Yale School of Medicine as of Sept. 1.
Hafler, 56, called it a wonderful opportunity both for himself and for his wife, Janet Hafler, who will become assistant dean of medical education at Yale. She had been dean of educational development at Tufts University School of Medicine until about a year ago. Before that she spent 19 years at Harvard Medical School, most recently as director of faculty development.
"I loved my time at Harvard," David Hafler said in an interview. "But it's clear to me that Yale is providing me with tremendous resources to build a great neurology department and to pursue both translational neurology and genetics. Their ability to provide me with just spectacular resources to do that, to recruit young faculty and to build up that program at a time when things are not expanding in Boston, is a real opportunity for me."
Dr. Michael Greenberg, chair of neurobiology at Harvard, was surprised to learn Hafler was leaving.
"It's always disappointing when a talented colleague leaves," he said.
Since joining the Harvard faculty in 1984, Hafler has researched the molecular basis of multiple sclerosis. An international group he founded is responsible for the first whole genome scan of genes implicated in MS, work that was published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Hafler said it's safe to say he would try to persuade some of the scientists in his Harvard lab to also migrate to Yale.
"I have an outstanding group of investigators," he said. "We will attempt to get the best and the brightest at Harvard, but also at Stanford and other universities around the world."
Hafler's move marks another prominent departure for Yale. In February Dr. Thomas J. Lynch, one of the nation's leading lung cancer specialists, left Massachusetts General Hospital to become director of the Yale Cancer Center, a partnership of the Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
In his new leadership role, Hafler said, he will promote more collaboration between the two medical schools.
"There really has been a dearth of interaction between Harvard and Yale," he said. "I don't look at science as a competitive sport. We are here to help the patient."
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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