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Dr. Frederic I. Preffer, The Medical Mastermind Behind Immunopathology at Massachusetts General Hospital

prefferIn the field of Immunopathology the name Dr. Frederic I. Preffer is an eminent one, highly regarded by experts and peers alike. As the Medical Director of Immunopathology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Preffer brings with him vast experience tempered with expertise, dedication, and passion that he has acquired over many years. He is a Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and the Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Cytometry, the official journal of the ICCS and ESCCA. In this blog, we will delve deeper into his life, achievements, and expertise and what makes him one of the most sought-after immunologists of our times.

Dr. Preffer started his full-time academic career as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology’s Immunopathology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital [MGH] over 40 years ago after earning his Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo’s Roswell Park Division.  He describes his first exposure to immunology and especially flow cytometry at MGH as love at first sight!  His first cell-sorter was a FACS440, and without much in the way of a local cytometry teacher, he stubbornly “…never left the lab with the machine beating him.”  That stipulated he was also mindful to appreciate all who helped support him as he drove innovation; this included the plumbers in the basement of his eighth-floor lab, who ensured the water pressure was robust enough to keep his cell-sorter’s water-cooled lasers running so he could  “…get the job done.”  Dr. Preffer found that a six-pack of beer regularly dropped off to those hard-working gentlemen in the basement ensured good water pressure for his cell-sorter. 

While initially only involved in clinical research, Dr. Preffer’s love and passion for cytometry and pure serendipity put him in close contact with the world-renowned hematopathologist Dr. Nancy L. Harris. In the mid-1980s, Fred offered to Nancy that the power of his cytometric capacity could and should help her diagnose hematologic malignancies. But how could he convince her, not to mention all the other hematopathologists at MGH? Dr. Preffer used his martial arts experience [he taught karate and supported himself through his school years in doing so] to solve that problem!  Dr. Preffer knew how to fight five attackers simultaneously; the way to do that was NOT to fight all five; just quickly drop the ‘meanest and nastiest’ looking attacker, and all the others would run away! With that in mind, Fred knew that all he had to do was convince Dr. Harris [the equivalent of the ‘meanest and nastiest’ hematopathologist] that cytometry would be useful, and all the other pathologists would fall in line!  With Dr. Harris initially as his medical mentor, along with input from many other fine hematopathologists and amazing technical staff over the years, Dr. Preffer created the first Clinical Flow Cytometry Lab at MGH that became internationally recognized for its diagnostic excellence and integration of cutting-edge and innovative technologies he garnered from his research flow cytometry core!  

Along with support from numerous friends from the industry [e.g., S. Ziganti, L. Duckett, J.Trotter, B. Bagwell], Dr. Preffer’s love and passion helped drive cytometry to new heights!  His work in the field includes extensive research on human immune response mechanisms in transplantation and many other novel developments in flow cytometry and immunopathology.  

As a renowned expert in Immunopathology, his accomplishments are recognized globally, and he has received several prestigious awards over the years. Dr. Preffer's research efforts and expertise have led to improvements in several immune disorders as well as strides in solid and bone marrow transplantation, stem cells, and extensive work in diagnosing hematologic malignancies.

Dr. Preffer has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and editorials and has given numerous seminars and lectures internationally, making him one of the most cited authors in his field. Driven by a passion for innovation, Dr. Preffer constantly pushes the boundaries with his research and has made significant strides in clinical diagnostics.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Preffer is responsible for the scientific and clinical oversight of Clinical and Research Flow Cytometry and Immunopathology. He also works closely with his colleagues in cell therapy and bone marrow transplantation fields. His extensive experience in immunopathology, clinical flow techniques, and hematopathology has brought significant advantages to all these modalities. This knowledge and expertise have given rise to novel diagnostic procedures, leading to clinicians achieving a more robust understanding of diseases. His leadership at Massachusetts General Hospital has equipped the team with the tools to impact positively patient care.

Dr. Frederic I. Preffer is a researcher and mastermind in Immunopathology and a dedicated mentor to aspiring scientists and researchers. His innovative research, significant contributions to his field, and commitment to excellence have impacted the lives of countless patients worldwide. We are grateful for his tireless work as he continues pushing the boundaries of immunology research and providing a pathway to better patient diagnoses. When Dr. Preffer is not in the lab, when younger he dedicated his free time to studying martial arts and instructing many others in their journey in that sphere. He currently enjoys photography, playing music in his Klezmer band, the serious study of Islay whisky, and primarily enjoying his lovely family. Thank you, Dr. Preffer, for your invaluable contributions to Immunopathology and the healthcare industry. We raise our whisky glasses to you!

Fred Preffer Lego 2


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