Dr. Jaffe did her medical studies at Cornell University Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania, receiving the M.D. from the latter. Her post-graduate medical education was completed at Georgetown University Hospital and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. She has been Chief of the Hematopathology Section at the NCI since 1980.
Her clinical and investigational studies have been intertwined to enhance our understanding of the malignant lymphomas. One of her earliest papers on follicular lymphoma (1974), a Citation Classic, presented evidence for the origin of this tumor from follicular B cells. More recently she described in situ follicular lymphomas, which provide insight into the earliest events of follicular lymphomagenesis, and identified histiocytic/dendritic cell tumors arising in follicular lymphoma, providing the first evidence for lineage plasticity in mature human lymphoid cells. Her work stresses the clinical implications of diagnoses, emphasizing the role as pathologists as clinical consultants. She is an author of more than 490 peer reviewed articles, 35 invited editorials, and more than 130 chapters and invited reviews.
Dr. Jaffe was an Editor for both the 2001 and 2008 editions of the WHO Classification of Tumors of the Hematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues. She is currently one of four series editors developing the 4th Edition Series of monographs for the classification of human tumors, under the auspices of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization.
Science Watch named her among the 10 most highly cited researchers in clinical oncology from 1981 and 1998. Dr. Jaffe has been president of both the Society for Hematopathology as well as the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. She has held several leadership positions in the American Society of Hematology. Among her awards are the Fred W. Stewart Award from Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Lennert prize from the European Association for Haematopathology, and the Maude Abbott Lecturer for the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. Dr. Jaffe was recognized for her outstanding mentoring abilities with awards from the National Cancer Institute and the American Society of Investigative Pathology. Her fellows have gone on to academic success, with prestigious appointments in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Dr. Jaffe was awarded an honorary degree (Honoris Causa) from the University of Barcelona, and received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2011. She has served on 18 journal editorial boards, including The American Journal of Pathology, The American Journal of Surgical Pathology, Blood, Cancer Research, and Modern Pathology. 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. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2008. In 2013 Dr. Jaffe was award the Stratton Medal from the American Society of Hematology.