Robert Sheaff

Prof. Sheaff

Associate ProfessorKeplinger Hall M247

The Sheaff lab investigates the biochemical basis of human diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. Projects in cancer biochemistry center on how disrupted signaling contributes to aberrant cell cycle progression and altered metabolic pathways. Collaborative drug discovery and characterization projects focus on screening chemical libraries and evaluating novel chemotherapeutic agents. Work on neurodegenerative diseases investigates the role of deregulated protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. A third area of research involves identifying biological markers of the human stress and pain responses, which is carried out in collaboration with members of the Psychology Department.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle,1999
  • Ph.D. Chemistry University of Colorado, Boulder,1994 
  • B.A. Biology and Philosophy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1989

Areas of Research Focus

  • Cell cycle control
  • Protein degradation
  • Signal transduction
  • Drug discovery

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Graduate-level classes at the University of Minnesota.

Previous Relevant Work Experience

  • 4/94 - 1/99
    Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Laboratory of Dr. James Roberts, Dept. of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.
  • 4/99 – 6/06
    Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Cancer Center and Dept. of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, Minneapolis, MN.
  • 4/00 – 6-06
    Member, University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • National Science Foundation Panel Member

Courses Taught at TU

  • Advanced Topics (CHEM 4863)
  • Biochemistry I Lab (CHEM 4131)
  • Biochemistry II (CHEM 4143)

Awards & Recognition

  • 7/94 American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (declined)
  • 8/94 - 8/97 Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Fellow
  • 8/00 Reviewer, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program
  • 8/01 - 7/05 Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging
  • 8/89 B.A., Honors in Philosophy and Biology
  • 7/94 Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (declined)
  • 9/97 - 9/00 Leukemia Society of America Special Fellow
  • 6/08 Merck/AAAS grant to support interdisciplinary research
  • 3/02 National Cancer Institute R21 Award
  • 10/05 Panel member, National Science Foundation. Proposal Review Panel for Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Signal Transduction & Cellular Regulation.


  • Nacusi L, Sheaff RJ. Akt phosphorylates p27kip1 at a noncononical but evolutionarily conserved site. Cell Division. 1:11, 2006.

  • Sheaff RJ, Roberts JM. Regulation of G1 Phase. In “Cell Cycle Control: Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation,” Pagano M (ed), Springer Verlag, Berlin, p.1-27, 1997.

  • Nacusi L, Sheaff RJ. Cell cycle control of stem cell fate. In “Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine,” Low W, Verfaillie C (ed), World Scientific Publishing, 2007.

  • Sheaff RJ, Groudine M, Gordon M, Roberts JM, Clurman BE. Cyclin E-Cdk2 is a Regulator of P27kip1. Genes and Development 11:1464-1478, 1997.

  • Nacusi L, Sheaff RJ. Deregulation of cell cycle machinery in pancreatic cancer. Pancreatology;7:373-377, 2007.

  • Moeller SM, Sheaff RJ. G1 Phase: Components, Conundrums, Context. In “Cell Cycle Control: Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation,” Kaldis, P. (ed), SpringerVerlag, Berlin, vol. 42, p.1-29, 2006.

  • Nho SR, Sheaff RJ. P27kip1 contributions to cancer. In “Progress in Cell Cycle Research: Cell Cycle Regulators as Therapeutic Targets,” Meijer L, Jézéquel A, and Roberge M (eds), vol. 5, p.249-259, 2003.

  • Moeller SJM, Head E, Sheaff RJ. p27Kip1 inhibition of GRB2-SOS formation can regulate Ras activation. Molecular and Cellular Biology 23: 3735–3752, 2003.

  • Sheaff RJ, Singer J, Swanger J, Smitherman M, Roberts JM, Clurman BE. Proteasome-dependent turnover of p21cip1 does not require p21 ubiquitination. Molecular Cell 5:403-410, 2000.

  • Sheaff RJ. Regulation of Mammalian Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2. In “Methods in Enzymology,” Dunphy WG (ed), Academic Press, New York, NY, vol. 283, p.173-193, 1997.