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Neuroimmunology Lab

Dr. Hafler is the William S. and Lois Stiles Edgerly Professor of Neurology and Professor of Immunobiology, Chair, Department of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, and Neurologist-in-Chief at Yale New Haven Hospital. Among his many research accomplishments, he has elucidated fundamental mechanisms of T cell autoantigen recognition and immune regulation by his investigation of human disease. His other discoveries include: the first clear generation of human autoreactive T cell clones revealing molecular mechanism for self-antigen, followed by experiments elucidating the inflammatory program of autoreactive T cells in autoimmune diseases; the identification of human FoxP3 regulatory T cells and providing the first evidence of their dysfunction in autoimmune disease. He went onto demonstrate the importance of environmental factors in inducing Treg dysregulation, with the far-reaching discovery that NaCl drives both the induction of IFNy in Tregs, hence linking this ubiquitous environmental factor to autoimmunity. Early on, he recognized the theoretical potential of genome-wide association scans and led among the first identifications of common genetic variants in autoimmune disease. This demonstrated that causal variants occur near binding sites for master regulators of immune differentiation and stimulus-dependent gene activation. In a recent landmark work, Dr. Hafler profiled the T cell state of healthy human CNS by using single-cell/nucleus RNA sequencing, identifying a novel mechanism for CNS immune privilege and discovering the presence of an inflammatory IFNy signature in healthy CSF T cells.

He has 40 years of experience as a NIH-funded investigator and has been deeply committed to training graduate and postdoctoral researchers. He has trained more than 90 individuals in immunology and neurological research, many of whom have become successful and published researchers in industry and academia. He also serves as the Project Director for Yale''s Clinical Neuroscientist Training Program (R25).

In addition to his roles as researcher and educator, Dr. Hafler has received many professional distinctions, including: NIH Jacob Javits Scholar; Founder of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Society; ISI most cited list (H-index 132); the University of Miami Distinguished Alumni Award; the John Dystel Prize from the AAN; ISNI McFarlin Lecture; and the ANA Adams Prize. He also serves as an Honorary Member of the Scandinavian Society for Immunology and was elected to the AOA, ASCI, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the National Academy of Medicine.


The Hafler Laboratory focuses on understanding the fundamental immunology and the pathogenesis of human autoimmune disease.


Selected publications and a full listing.


Interested in joining our lab? We are always in search of talented individuals with a strong interest in immunology, neurology, biochemistry or molecular biology.

Please email a CV and cover letter to David Hafler.