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Chris B Schaffer

  • Chris B Schaffer
  • Dept: Biomedical Engineering
  • Title: Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
  • Address: B57 Weill Hall
  • Phone: 607 342-7737
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Chris B. Schaffer is an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University, where he worked with Eric Mazur. As a post-doc at University of California, San Diego, Chris worked with David Kleinfeld in the Physics and Neuroscience programs. His lab at Cornell develops advanced optical techniques that enable quantitative imaging and targeted manipulation of individual cells in the central nervous system of rodents with the goal of identifying interactions among cells that cause neurological disease. One area of current focus is the role of brain blood flow disruptions in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Prof. Schaffer is also active in developing novel educational strategies to teach science as a dynamic process for discovery. These approaches are used in outreach settings in middle and high-school science classes as well as in his undergraduate and graduate level courses. Chris also has a strong interest in science policy and spent a sabbatical in Washington, DC, working as a science policy advisor for Representative Edward Markey in the United States Congress.

Research Interests

1. Current work on brain blood flow reductions in Alzheimer's disease has yielded fantastic insight into the responsible cellular and molecular mechanisms. This is a major symptom of the disease that contributes to cognitive decline and likely accelerates disease progression, so dissecting these mechanisms could lead to novel therapies for Alzheimer's disease. 2. We have recently made great progress in nonlinear imaging in the spinal cord of mice, including a recent (not yet published) demonstration of optical recording of neural activity in the grey matter of the cord - first ever in the world to achieve this. The tools we are building here will have important applications in the study of the neural circuitry underlying locomotion, as well as studies in animal models of diseases such as spinal cord injury and ALS. 3. On the optical instrumentation side, we have developed a "hyperspectral multiphoton microscope" that will acquire ~50 channels of excitation/emission fluorescence information per pixel. When coupled with combinatorial labeling with fluorescent proteins, this instrument could enable in vivo imaging in samples where every cells is labeled and distinguishable. This would allow imaging to be used as a more open-ended tool for biological discovery.

Selected Publications

Selected Awards and Honors

  • James M. and Marsha D. McCormick Award for Outstanding Advising of First-Year Engineering Students (College of Engineering at Cornell) 2014
  • Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Science Policy Fellowship (Optical Society of America and SPIE) 2012
  • Zellman Warhaft Committment to Diversity Faculty Award (College of Engineering at Cornell University) 2010
  • Biomedical Engineering Teaching Award (American Society for Engineering Education) 2009
  • CAREER award (National Science Foundation) 2009



  • BS (Physics), University of Florida, 1995
  • Ph D (Physics), Harvard University, 2001