Dr. Jaffe is a first generation American, whose parents had escaped the pogroms of Russia in the early 20th century. Her formal education began at Cornell University, where she was Pre-Med, with a major in Zoology. Her studies continued at Cornell University Medical College in New York City. As a medical student, pathology captured her interest immediately. She saw pathology as laying the groundwork for the understanding of all disease states. She recalls fondly her lab instructors, residents Drs. Janet Mouradian and Daniel R. Alonso, both of who later joined the Cornell faculty in pathology. She credits them with bringing the microscopic world alive for her.
Dr. Jaffe's future husband, Michael Evan Jaffe, was studying at Columbia University Law School while she was in medical school. They met through a Cornell classmate, who like Michael, was a Texan and Rice University alumnus. Getting married at the end of her second year, Dr. Jaffe transferred to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine as Michael was serving as a law clerk to the federal court in Delaware. Her first child, Greg, was born during her fourth year of medical school, and her son Cale followed four years later.
Dr. Jaffe began her residency in pathology at the National Cancer Institute in 1970. As a pathology resident she was drawn to hematopathology, hepatic and renal pathology, all fields in which the pathologist and clinician work together in diagnosis and management. In the early 1970's her interest focused on hematopathology. Immunology was entering the modern age, and dramatic advances were occurring at the NCI in the treatment of lymphoma. During her fellowship in hematopathology, a successful partnership was forged between Costan Berard, her mentor in pathology, and Ira Green and Michael Frank, immunologists working in NIAID. The marriage of immunology and pathology was critical to their early success. Dr. Jaffe has continued her work at the NCI, where she emphasizes the role of the pathologist as a clinical consultant and clinical investigator.
Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, Dr. Jaffe's clinical and investigational studies have been entwined to advance our understanding of the malignant lymphomas. One of her earliest papers on follicular lymphoma (1974) presented evidence for the origin of this tumor from follicular B cells. Subsequently she described in situ follicular lymphomas, which provide insight into the earliest events of follicular lymphomagenesis. In more recent work Dr. Jaffe has provided evidence for lineage plasticity in mature B-cells derived from follicular lymphoma, and identified cases of histiocytic or dendritic cell sarcoma clonally related to the underlying follicular lymphoma. Her report was the first to document lineage plasticity in mature lymphoid cells in the human system, and provided a mechanism of lineage switching through alterations in transcription factor expression. Another area of focus has been the interrelationship between Hodgkin's lymphoma and "non-Hodgkin's lymphomas."
Dr. Jaffe has been president of both the Society for Hematopathology and the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. Science Watch named her among the 10 most highly cited researchers in clinical oncology from 1981 and 1998. In 1993, she was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and subsequently was elected Chair of the Medical Sciences Section of AAAS. Among her awards are the Fred W. Stewart Award from Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Lennert Prize from the European Association for Haematopathology. She has served on 18 editorial boards, including most of the major titles in pathology.
Dr. Jaffe was an Editor for the (2001) WHO Classifications of Tumors: Pathology and Genetics of the Hematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues, and also played a leadership role in the 2008 4th Edition. She now serves as a Series Editor for the 4th Edition WHO monograph series on the Pathology and Genetics of Tumours. Her recently published text, Hematopathology (2010), with co-editors Drs. Harris, Vardiman, Campo and Arber, continues the tradition of international cooperation and collaboration
Dr. Jaffe has been a fellowship and residency program director. Her achievements as a mentor and teacher have led to many awards, including the NCI Outstanding Mentor Award, the Distinguished Clinical Teacher Award from the NIH Clinical Fellows Committee, and the Chugai Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Scholarship, from the American Society of Investigative Pathology. She is proud of her many apples, who rarely fall too far from the tree.
Dr. Jaffe's sons are well accomplished in their respective fields. Greg is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (2000 as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal) and is now a reporter for the Washington Post. He is also a successful author, The Fourth Star (2009). Cale, is a Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, and has won awards and distinction for his efforts to protect our environment. Dr. Jaffe is also the proud grandmother of five grandchildren, ages 2-13.