NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

FAES Scholar House Named for Leder

More than a dozen men and women line up in front of projected image of Leder, in Masur Auditorium
Speakers, donors and the Leder family at the symposium


The Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES), in collaboration with NIH, hosted an event to honor former NIH colleague and well-loved mentor Dr. Phil Leder with a day of remembrances and dedication of one of the new scholar houses as part of the FAES Academic Community project. This unique project was created to support the NIH scholars’ community and is located just across the street from NIH. 

The Phil Leder house is an off-campus space that will provide an inspiring and turn-key environment for current and future generations of researchers, offering a robust support network for early-career scientists while they are at NIH. 

Farias at NIH podium
FAES executive director and CEO Christina Farias speaks at the symposium.


Leder had a long history of advancing education at NIH and served as chair of the FAES department of chemistry, FAES vice president (1970-1971) and FAES president (1971-1973).  Also, he taught an important FAES-sponsored course on DNA replication, transcription and translation. Leder left NIH in 1980 for Harvard Medical School, where he was founding chair of the genetics department, a position he held until his retirement in 2008. 

exterior of 2-story house with ground level garage
The Philip Leder House


Leder, who died in 2020 at age 85, was among the world’s most accomplished molecular geneticists. His work with future Nobelist Marshall Nirenberg—namely, the famed Nirenberg and Leder experiments starting at NIH in 1964 that definitively elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and culminated in its full deciphering—helped set the stage for the revolution in molecular genetic research that Leder himself would continue to lead for the next three decades.

Two women and two men stand outside doorway of house, with plaque showing name Phil Leder House
Leder family members (from l) Mary, Micki, Benjamin and Ethan Leder stand outside the Philip Leder House


The recent celebration started with a symposium in Masur Auditorium, introduced and moderated by NCI Senior Investigator Dr. Michael Gottesman and FAES Executive Director and CEO Christina Farias. Scientific talks by nine “Leder alumni” from his tenure at NIH and Harvard followed. They shared captivating stories of their time in his lab and how his mentorship helped shape careers leading to the alumni’s own significant contributions to science. 

The talks were given by Dr. Cynthia Morton, Dr. Stuart Orkin and Dr. Jonathan Seidman, all of Harvard Medical School; Dr. Philip Hieter of the University of British Columbia; Dr. Jeff Ravetch of Rockefeller University; Dr. Ilan (Lanny) Kirsch of Adaptive Biotechnologies; and NIH’ers Dr. Kathleen Kelly of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Lothar Hennighausen of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Dr. Richard Woychik of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

The symposium was recorded and is archived at

Later, attendees met for tours inside the house dedicated to Leder. Read more:

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