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Research interests

Dr. Schafer’s doctoral dissertation research focused on the role of tryptophan metabolism in the tumor microenvironment using preclinical mouse models of lung cancer. She found that a novel combination therapy targeting the function and activity of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) impaired tryptophan-metabolizing indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and other related metabolic pathways which restored anti-tumor immunity in mice. Dr. Schafer also gained valuable clinical research experience evaluating immune cell subsets and enzymatic activity in whole blood of patients undergoing doublet chemotherapy.

In 2016, Dr. Schafer joined the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) as a Post-Doctoral Fellow to support the Cancer Moonshot’s APOLLO-3 prostate cancer study, in addition to a project aimed at identifying immune biomarkers and their spatial relevance in prostate tissues. Dr. Schafer has also had the opportunity to collaborate on several other CPDR research projects including p53 and lymphatic vessel invasion, ETV antibody characterization in prostate cancer, and the genomic sequencing of aggressive Renal Medullary Carcinoma.

Dr. Schafer has an academic faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor within USU Walter Reed Surgery. She is also a Staff Scientist at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF) in support of the Murtha Cancer Center Research Program and the CPDR. Dr. Schafer has a profound interest in translational cancer research. Her projects revolve around studying the tumor microenvironment as well as the immunologic and genetic underpinnings in prostate cancer, especially as it relates to health disparity. She has also served as a mentor to summer students, graduate students, medical students, and fellows over the years.

Grants and awards:

  • Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program - Prostate Cancer Research Program Health Disparity Fellowship Award 
  • HJF Superior Performance Award
  • USU VPR Intramural Discovery Award 

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Master, Georgetown University

Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics (Cancer Biology), PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Biology & Biotechnology, Bachelor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

External positions

Adjunct Faculty, National Cancer Institute (NCI)

4 Sep 2023 → …


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