Harvard Medical School has received a $7.8 million gift to fund studies on Alzheimer's disease and other nervous-system disorders, University officials announced yesterday.
The Medical School will use the funds to set up and maintain the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders. The money will also provide for a permanent professorship, a research fund to underwrite a grants program and an endowment to train predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
"The center will add much to the longstanding commitment of Harvard to research and education in the basic and clinical sciences related to the nervous system," Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Daniel C. Tosteson '43 said in a press release.
"It comes at a time when biomedical science continues to make major fundamental advances toward understanding the basis of Alzheimer's disease and similar disorders," President Neil L. Rudenstine said in a statement.
The new center will focus on developing tools to diagnose, prevent and treat neurogenerative, with a focus on Alzheimer's.
The grants program is expected to give two or three grants a year to stimulate new ideas and to help researchers obtain federal funding.
The Lefler research fund will also assist the training of one or two M.D. and Ph.D. candidates in the neuroscience program and one or two fellows in the department of neurobiology each year.
"It is important to realize that Alzheimer's disease is a disease," Gerald D. Fischbach, chair of the neurobiology department at the Medical School, said in a news release. "It is not an invariable consequence of aging."
"The extraordinary magnitude of support we have received from the Lefler family will greatly facilitate the medical advances that will help many people who suffer from devastating disorders from the brain," Fischbach added.
Pioneers in the mass-mail and material-handling business, The Leflers were self-made millionaires who founded the Mailing House Inc. in Los Angeles in 1946. The couple sold the company to an employee in 1984.
Edward R. Lefler died in May 1994