The Schaffer research group applies molecular and cellular engineering approaches to investigate biomedical problems focused on engineering of stem cell and gene therapeutics. Our group is a part of the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and the Bioengineering Graduate Group at UC Berkeley.

Principal Investigator

David V. Schaffer

David Schaffer is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as the Director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and the Director of QB3-Berkeley. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1993. Afterward, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his Ph.D. also in Chemical Engineering in 1998 with Professor Doug Lauffenburger, while minoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. Finally, he conducted a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Fred Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, before moving to UC Berkeley in 1999.


Gene Therapy

One of our major research thrusts is dedicated to understanding the biology and exploring the therapeutic potential of gene delivery, which serves as an effective means to control stem cells. Gene therapy can be defined as the introduction of genetic material to the cells of an individual for therapeutic benefit…

Stem Cells

Many of our efforts are dedicated to understanding the biology and exploring the therapeutic potential of stem cells. Stem cells are immature cells that exist in various locations of our bodies. Throughout our lifetimes, these cells divide and develop into the specialized cells that perform the functions necessary for organismal development and adult tissue function…


Baek, J., Kumar, S., & Schaffer, D. v. (2024). Dynamic light-responsive RhoA activity regulates mechanosensitive stem cell fate decision in 3D matrices. Biomaterials Advances, 213836. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.BIOADV.2024.213836 View PDF

Zhu, D., Brookes, D. H., Busia, A., Carneiro, A., Fannjiang, C., Popova, G., Shin, D., Donohue, K. C., Lin, L. F., Miller, Z. M., Williams, E. R., Chang, E. F., Nowakowski, T. J., Listgarten, J., & Schaffer, D. v. (2024). Optimal trade-off control in machine learning-based library design, with application to adeno-associated virus (AAV) for gene therapy. Science Advances, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1126/SCIADV.ADJ3786 [PDF]

Mulyasasmita, W., Schaffer, D. v., Stack, R., & Chapman, R. (2023). From garages to ecosystems: the coevolution of life science incubators and accelerators. Trends in Biotechnology, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1016/J.TIBTECH.2023.11.007. View PDF
Schieferecke, A. J., Lee, H., Chen, A., Kilaru, V., Krish Williams, J., & Schaffer, D. v. (2023). Evolving membrane-associated accessory protein variants for improved adeno-associated virus production. Molecular Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.YMTHE.2023.12.015. View PDF

Repina, N., Johnson, H., Bao, X., Zimmerman, J., Joy, D., Bi, S., Kane, R.,  Schaffer, D.V. (2023). “Optogenetic control of Wnt signaling models cell-intrinsic embryogenic patterning using 2D human pluripotent stem cell culture “. Development. https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.201386. View PDF