Dorothy Schafer, PhD

Dorothy (Dori) Schafer received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Mount Holyoke College in 2001 and her PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Connecticut Health Center in 2008. She then began her postdoctoral training at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Dr. Beth Stevens’ laboratory. Here, she made the discovery that microglia, the resident CNS macrophages, sculpt neural circuits in the developing brain by engulfing a subset of less active synapses via the classical complement cascade. Dr. Schafer is considered a leader in the field studying microglia and neural-immune interactions within neural circuits. Her earlier postdoctoral work showing microglia engulf and eliminate synapses via the classical complement cascade has served as a foundation for the field to understand new roles for microglia in regulating synaptic connectivity in health and disease. Dr. Schafer joined UMass Medical School in 2015 where she was a recipient of a NIH R00 Pathway to Independence Award (NIMH), Charles H. Hood Child Research Award, a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and the Brain Behavior Research Foundation Freedman Award Honorable Mention. She also received awards for Outstanding Mentoring and Early Career Achievement from UMass Medical School. Her laboratory uses a combination of cutting-edge molecular genetic approaches and sophisticated imaging approaches to uncover novel roles for microglia and immune pathways, including complement, in modulating neural circuit structure and function in health and disease.