Zev Leifer, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Biology

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  • Campus:
    Lander College of Arts & Sciences
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Dr. Leifer has been very successful in training over 2,500 podiatrists in the past 29 years at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. His concentration is in Bacteriology, an interest developed in bacteria courses he took in college and graduate school. Dr. Leifer, the son of two teachers, spent much of his childhood sick at home in East New York, Brooklyn. He used this time as an opportunity to read the science books that his father would bring home to him.  He put his love for science and his parent’s profession together in deciding his own career in teaching and research. He attended high school in Far Rockaway and college at Yeshiva University. He eventually received his master’s degree from Harvard University and his Ph. D. from NYU. Most of his adult life was spent living in Manhattan, and he recently moved to Staten Island. He is a father of 6 and a grandfather to 24.

Dr. Leifer’s research includes the work he did for his master’s degree at Harvard University, Ph.D. from NYU, followed by four years of postdoctoral research at NYU, Columbia and Queens College. He also spent six years on the faculty at New York Medical College doing research in environmental mutagenesis. He has been at NYCPM for the last 29 years. At NYCPM, he has used a grant from the March of Dimes to develop an assay using bacteria to test for the effects of environmental chemicals on genetic regulatory mechanisms. He is currently developing new bacterial assay systems and is seeking funding to extend the in vivo assay to a cell-free DNA-protein binding assay, using gel shift and interferometry techniques.

Dr. Leifer credits much of his lifelong success to Dr. Luigi Gorini, a professor at the graduate school of Harvard. Dr. Gorini made observations of Streptomycin-dependent arginine mutants of E. coli. The work done by Dr. Gorini has enhanced our current understanding of the role of Streptomycin in causing misreading of the genetic code. Being around someone who was so motivated by their research rooted the excitement in Dr. Leifer’s lifelong interest in exactly how bacteria function.

Dr. Leifer describes his greatest accomplishments to be in Microbiology and online education. Before working at NYCPM, he worked with Dr. Herbert Rosenkranz at NY Medical College in Valhalla, NY. Dr. Rosenkranz’s research is in environmental genetic toxicology and the study of the effect of environmental chemicals on DNA. As the senior author of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gene-Tox Report. Dr. Leifer assembled data from a large number of assay systems using Repair-Deficient Bacteria. His article “An Evaluation of Tests Using DNA Repair-Deficient Bacteria for Predicting Genotoxicity and Carcinogenicity” was published in the journal Mutation Research.

While at NYCPM, Dr. Leifer advanced the school’s online education program. This eventually resulted in the development of a Microbiology Teaching Laboratory in the virtual world of BioMOO which has since been published online at the Virtual Conference of University Biology Education. The publication can be found at:


This past semester Dr. Leifer created a Wiki: http://pathlab2014.wetpaint.com for use in his Pathology Laboratory. Students find the relevant pathology by Virtual Microscopy, copy, circle, underline or add arrows or text and save it to the wiki website for all to use for study. It was extensively used and was very helpful.

Dr. Leifer has a “laid back and dynamic” personality. He takes a very organized, clear and interactive approach with students in his style of communicating with students. He makes it a point to convey to his students that “We are in this together, I have my part in the process and you have your part.” Informed by this philosophy, Dr. Leifer always makes himself available to students, encourages them to call or email him and is enthusiastic to sit down with students who are having trouble grasping the material. He spends a lot of his time helping students with problems outside the classroom as well. To him, the purpose of Medical school is to make students “lifelong learners in the rapidly progressing field of medicine.”    

With regard to the learning process, Dr. Leifer recommends reading slowly while carefully underlining, highlighting and reviewing the material. He also recommends reading be done in “layers,” by first reading the entire chapter, making an outline, studying the outline, and then rereading the chapter again and making sure to take time to absorb all the material. Most importantly he emphasizes repeating the material out loud at all times of the day, blending in with passersby walking down the street talking with a Bluetooth. The most helpful form of learning in his mind is to start from the most simple and continue to the complex in order to teach the student how one idea leads to another, in the hopes of creating a coherent picture instead of isolated facts.

Dr. Leifer’s calm persona and unique approach makes him an exceptional professor. Students at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine are very lucky to have him teaching the integral subject of Microbiology. Dr. Leifer instills a very powerful foundation on which we continue to build!   


BA       Yeshiva University            1963

 MA      Harvard University          1965

Ph.D.   New York University       1972

Area(s) of Expertise

Microbiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Online Education


The effect of small molecule ligands on DNA structure and their role in genetic regulation.

The relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function, mood and behavior.

Academic and Professional Honors

The Steven Seifer Goodfellow Award

“Chosen by the faculty and given to a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional contributions and service to the College”

Presented at the Commencement Exercises of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine 2009

Professional Service

Faculty – New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 1976-1982

Faculty – New York College of Podiatric Medicine  New York, NY  1982-present

Faculty – Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York, NY 2009-present

Regular Courses Taught



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Interests/Hobbies/Life Outside of Work

Chumash from a psychological point of view (Slabodka Mussar)