Leen Jamal Schafer

Graduate Student (Ph.D.) Alumni
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
NSF Fellow Fellow
ljamal at ucsd.edu


B.S. Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, 2012


Leen is a graduate student in the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program at the University of California, San Diego. Leen received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2012. During her undergraduate career at UVA, she worked in the Cell Signaling and Bioanalysis Laboratory in the biomedical engineering department under the advisement of Kevin Janes. Leen was part of a project investigating the single-cell heterogeneity in basal-like breast cancer. Basal-like breast cancer contributes disproportionately to breast cancer-related deaths and lacks therapeutic targets. She was an integral member of a team showing concordance between 3D organotypic culture of breast epithelial cells and human tissue, unlocking aberrant expression programs in basal-like breast cancer.

Leen’s research interests are focused on understanding the stochastic nature of gene expression on the post-transcriptional level, including revealing mechanisms that control a transcript’s stability. The dynamic regulation of mRNA levels through stability and degradation is poorly understood, including the modulation and alteration of mRNA through RNA-protein interactions by RNA binding proteins (RBPs). Understanding the maintenance of this dynamic regulation using computational tools in combination with innovative reporter assays will unlock key facets in the mechanisms of post-transcriptional control, expanding our knowledge of cell differentiation, development, homeostasis and fate. Additionally, unraveling the genetic variation of these transcriptional elements and the modules that control them will elucidate the progression of many disease states associated with post-transcriptional misregulation.

Prior to receiving her B.S., Leen obtained six years of clinical research and industry experience working for Genzyme Corporation, Genzyme Genetics, Tufts, and UCI. Outside of the lab, Leen enjoys spending time outside rock climbing, hiking, and trail running.


Wang Chun‐Chao, Jamal Leen, Janes Kevin A. Normal morphogenesis of epithelial tissues and progression of epithelial tumors. WIREs Syst Biol Med 2012, 4: 51-78.