Duke University Medical Center
research The Garcia-Blanco Lab

Daneen Schaeffer, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Daneen Schaeffer Cedar Crest College
BS - Genetic Engineering, 2004

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
PhD - Molecular Biology, 2010


  Phone: 919.613.8633
Email: daneen.schaeffer@duke.edu

Research Interests

Epithelial cancers (carcinomas) require epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMT) to become metastatic. During EMT, the primary tumor cells undergo a re-programming whereby they adopt a mesenchymal phenotype, classically characterized by invasiveness and an increased migratory capacity. Once the mesenchymal-like tumor cells are at the site of metastasis, they undergo the reverse process, mesenchymal to epithelial transitions (MET) and recapitulate the architecture of the primary tumor. The ability of cells to transition between epithelial to mesenchymal states is termed epithelial plasticity.

My research in the lab currently focuses on cancer cell migration, including the mechanisms by which cancer cells migrate and the genes involved in regulating cancer cell migration. I am also interested in how epithelial plasticity affects tumor formation and metastasis.


  • Somarelli, J., Schaeffer, D., Bonano, V.I., Song, J.W., Kemeny, G., Ettyreddy, A., and Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco. 2012. Development of fluorescence-based alternative splicing reporters for the study of epithelial plasticity. RNA. 19:116-27.

  • Schaeffer, D., Reis, F.P., Johnson, S.J., Arraiano, C.M., and A. van Hoof. 2012. The CR3 motif of Rrp44p is important for interaction with the core exosome and exosome function. NAR. 40:9298-307 [Epub ahead of print, July 24].

  • Schaeffer, D., and A. van Hoof. 2011. Different nuclease requirements for exosome-mediated degradation of normal and nonstop mRNAs. PNAS. 108:2366-71.

  • Schaeffer, D., Clark, A., Klauer, A., Tsanova, B., and A. van Hoof. 2010. Cytoplasmic exosome activities. RNA Exosome (ed. Torbin Jensen) 79-90 (Book chapter).

  • Schaeffer, D., Tsanova, B., Barbas, A., Reis, F.P., Dastidar, E.G., Sanchez-Rotunno, M., Arraiano, C.M., and A. van Hoof. 2009. The exosome contains domains with specific endoribonuclease, exoribonuclease and cytoplasmic mRNA decay activities. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 16:56-62. *Selected by Faculty of 1000

  • Schaeffer, D., Meaux, S., Clark, A., and A. van Hoof. 2008. Determining in vivo activity of the yeast cytoplasmic exosome. Methods Enzymol. 448:227-239 (Book chapter).

  • Grossman, D. and A. van Hoof. 2006. RNase II structure completes group portrait of 3 exoribonucleases. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 13:760-761.
  • Fellowships

    Institutional (Duke University) Viral Oncology Training Grant
    November 2010 – October 2012 

    Postdoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) F32
    November 2012 – October 2013

    Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program Postdoctoral Training Award
    November 2013 – August 2015