David Hafler MD, MSc

William S. and Lois Stiles Edgerly Professor of Neurology and Professor of Immunobiology; Chair, Department of Neurology; Neurologist-in-Chief, Yale New Haven Hospital

Departments & Organizations

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Immunology | Neuroscience

Yale Medical Group

Office of Student ResearchInterdepartmental Neuroscience ProgramImmunobiology: HTINeurology: Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology; Hafler Lab


Dr. Hafler is the William S. and Lois Stiles Edgerly Professor and Chairman Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine and is the Neurologist-in-Chief of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. He graduated magna cum laude in 1974 from Emory University with combined B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in biochemistry, and the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. He then completed his internship in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins followed by a neurology residency at Cornell Medical Center-New York Hospital in New York. Dr. Hafler received training in immunology at the Rockefeller University then at Harvard where he joined the faculty in 1984. He was one of the Executive Directors of the Program in Immunology at Harvard Medical School and was on the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology program where he was actively involved in the training of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Dr. Hafler has been elected to membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation, The American Neurological Association, the Alpha Omega Society, and was a Harvey Weaver Scholar of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He is currently a member of the editorial boards for Journal of Clinical Investigation and the Journal of Experimental Medicine, and is co-founder of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies. Dr. Hafler is a clinical scientist with a research interest in understanding the mechanism of autoimmunity with a particular interest in inflammatory central nervous system diseases, with over 300 publications in the field of autoimmunity and immunology. He received the 1st National Multiple Sclerosis five year Collaborative Center Award for tackling the MS genetic effort. Hafler leads the NIH Autoimmunity Prevention Center Grant at Yale, and was a Jacob Javits Merit Award Recipient from the NIH. His laboratory focuses on the understanding of human autoimmune diseases with the theme that investigation of naturally occurring human diseases give insight into the basic processes of T cell regulation, in addition to providing fundamental understanding and development of new therapies for human diseases. The laboratory has defined immunodominant epitopes of autoantigens, and has developed new technologies to measure both functionality and frequency of autoreactive T cells. More recently, Dr. Hafler has focused on broadly characterizing the molecular pathogenesis of the disease, both at the DNA, mRNA, and proteomic level. Dr. Hafler is a founding member of the International MS Genetic Consortium, a group recently formed to define the genetic causes of MS including scientists from University of Cambridge and University of California, San Francisco.


  • BS, Emory College , 1974
  • M.S., Emory University , 1974
  • M.D., University of Miami School of Medicine , 1978

Selected Publication

  • 289. Stern JN, Yaari G, Vander Heiden JA Church G, Donahue WF, Hintzen RQ, Huttner AJ, Laman JD, Nagra RM, Nylander A, Pitt D, Ramanan S, Siddiqui BA, Vigneault F, Kleinstein SH, O’Connor KC, Hafler DA*. B cells populating the multiple sclerosis brain mature in the draining cervical lymph nodes. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Aug 6;6(248):248ra107. PMID: 25100741

Latest Honor and Recognition

  • Harry Weaver Scholar(1985) , National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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