About

Thanks for visiting my website! I am a father, violinist/fiddler, singer, runner, gardener, dog walker, advocate, and community health center physician. I like to imagine a world where each person is affirmed, loved and cared for.

I was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1980, the only child of Albert and Ann Lederer, and grew up in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky. Currently I live in Boston with my wife Kristen, our 7-year-old son Joe, and our dog, Margo. My clinical practice is at a Dorchester (Boston) community health center, and I have an interest in health equity.

In addition, I sing, and play the violin — jazz, swing, blues, folk, old-time, and classical music. I truly believe we can grow a greater sense of togetherness by building musical community.

My philosophy as a doctor is that an integrative and holistic approach to health is the key to achieving wellness. We can understand the root causes of disease. We can treat the whole person, and accompany patients on their journey from illness back to health. We can use listening as a catalyst for connective presence and personal transformation. We can live in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.

We must put patients first and provide the highest quality health care. To do this, I am interested in improving wellness through mindfulness, nutrition, sleep, and exercise. I try to eat a healthy, plant-based diet. I work to optimize my sleep hygiene. I bike, play sports, walk, and run regularly – it’s good for my body, and good for the earth. And I counsel my patients regarding these same issues.

Because of my personal experiences with bipolar disorder, I am an advocate for ending stigma and discrimination regarding mental illness. I’m not embarrassed to tell others that I take lithium. It’s no different than a diabetic who requires insulin, or a person living with HIV who needs antiretroviral therapy.

Asking for help, including from medications, is a strength, not a weakness. Remember – you are not alone. You are only alone to the extent that you stay silent. Say no to shame, and yes to authenticity. We are human beings. We have courage and hope, we care about each other, and we are healing. 

Recovery is possible, but it is a process, and staying well requires a team effort. My wife, family and friends have been very supportive. I have a great psychologist and psychiatrist. Physician Health Services Inc. monitors my behavior and helps me remain in clinical practice. I am frightened of getting manic or depressed again, but so far I have been lucky. I also use self-management strategies to help control my emotions. Courage helps me cope, and I believe I can stay healthy, free from impairment.

The arts, and peer support, are critical. I play violin in Boston’s Me2/ Orchestra, the world’s only classical music organization created for individuals with mental illnesses and the people who support them. In addition, I also started a healing support group for doctors and other health professionals living with bipolar, anxiety, and depression. I believe I am a better physician because of my experiences.

We can integrate ancestral, Indigenous, and holistic methods of healing with the power of scientific biomedicine and surgery. We can use critical race theory/social justice as part of our medical practice, as we work to overcome white supremacy. We find that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life. We are all wounded healers, and just to live is holy. Just to be is a blessing.

“One good song with a message can bring a point more deeply to more people than a thousand rallies.” ― Phil Ochs

Often, I look at my son and think about what kind of world we are leaving to our children. To many people, it feels like human life on this planet is at a tipping point, and we need a new paradigm to coexist with the natural world. What will it take to achieve balance in our relationship with Mother Earth?

My interest in music and wellness is longstanding. During college at Brown University I founded a Music in Hospitals program. Currently, I am a member of the International Association for Music and Medicine (IAMM), an organization which encourages and supports the use of music in medical contexts including scientific research into the benefits of music.

These days, I am studying jazz violin with Rob Flax, who attended the New England Conservatory of Music. Here is my Youtube channel – a work in progress. Music brings meaning, and it can heal from trauma, just as David helped King Saul long ago. Sing out.

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” ― Fannie Lou Hamer

I have spent my career providing medical care to the rural and urban poor, in the United States, Guatemala, Mozambique and other countries, as well as engaged in research on HIV and tuberculosis. Based on my experiences as a community health worker and Americorps/ Community HealthCorps volunteer in Rhode Island years ago, and my global work, I am a believer in social justice and antiracism in medicine.

We must always remember that Black Lives Matter, immigrant lives matter, LGBTQ+ lives matter, homeless lives matter, people who use drugs matter, people with disabilities and mental illness matter – we all matter. We can we awaken from our culture of silence and complacency. We are all interconnected, and we can build the “Beloved Community,” described by the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

My medical degree is from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on global health. My postgraduate training is in internal medicine, from the University of California San Diego; in infectious diseases, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and in public health, from the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently I practice as a staff physician at Upham’s Corner Health Center. My focus at Upham’s is on HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted infections. I enjoy speaking Portuguese and Spanish with many of my patients and working in community medicine. It’s different than the large teaching hospitals where I trained, and it’s very fulfilling.

Becoming

It’s important to look backwards and know where we come from. My great-great-great-great grandfather was Philipp Levi, born in Kunreuth, Germany in 1771. He was forced in 1813 to change his name to Lederer, which meant someone who worked with leather, because of discriminatory laws targeting the Jews. (Two centuries later, I was named after Philipp).

The grave of Philipp Levi Lederer (1771-1861), my great-great-great-great grandfather

Philipp’s son was Jondorf, a tinsmith; his son was Isaac, who came to America. His son was Mitchell, my great-grandfather. Mitchell married Laura Rauh, a psychologist with the Cincinnati Board of Education.

Mitchell Lederer (1877-1942), my great-grandfather
Laura (Rauh) Lederer (1878-1948), my great-grandmother

Mitchell and Laura’s son was Lewis M. Lederer, who went by the nickname “Red” because of his hair color. Red married Marjorie Faller, whose father, Dr. Albert Faller, was an infectious diseases physician in Cincinnati. Dr. Faller worked during the 1918 pandemic flu and also specialized in smallpox and syphilis. Marjorie was a music and art lover who wrote song lyrics and played piano, organ, accordion, and harmonica. Red and Marjorie’s daughter was Mary Ann, and their son was Albert, my father.

Lewis M. “Red” Lederer (1909-1963), my grandfather
Dr. Albert Faller (1873-1941), my great-grandfather
Marjorie (Faller) Lederer (1908-1992), my grandmother
Ann (Neuser) Lederer, my mother, and Albert Lederer, my father, 1980

As noted above, I was born in 1980 in Ohio. I received many gifts from family and friends and have been well supported since.

In 2014, our son Joseph Philip Lederer was born, and we have always tried to do what was best for him. Time has flown by since.

Chang-won Lee, me, Kristen Lee, Joseph Lederer, Albert Lederer, and Ann Lederer, 2014

There are so many other stories about my family, but I can’t possibly write them all. I just try to follow in my father’s footsteps and do my best. Albert Lederer died in October 2020, and we miss him greatly.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Finally, I need to write a bit about white coats. In 2015 I published an article about the safety of white coats, because they could potentially lead to transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This got some media attention. Now, several years later, I have decided to reclaim my white coat, as a symbol in our fight for health equity. I still believe white coats shouldn’t be worn while clinicians are examining patients. However, I think they should be worn as we stand up for social justice and healing.

I have presented at Grand Rounds about my experience and welcome the opportunity to speak about my journey toward self-acceptance. This healing path is sacred, and as we look inward, we find compassion.

When not taking care of patients, playing the violin, or spending time with family, I can often be found hiking in Boston’s public parks. Under the tall trees is where I feel the most whole. And Margo likes going for walks – especially if there are other dogs to play with.

I am humbled by the beauty of life and am grateful to be alive.

What is your story? Where are you from? Where are you headed?

Personal email: lederer @gmail.com

Work email: phledere @uphams.org

Painting of me as a child, created by my aunt, Mary Ann Lederer, 1991
Margo likes going for walks, and carries Narcan… just in case.

Boston, Massachusetts is situated on traditional Mashpee Wampanoag Territory.