Education and Training Opportunities
We provide research and training opportunities to the following categories of students:
- Residents who are interested in various short to mid-term (4-12 months) research projects.
- Postdoctoral research fellows supported by federal or industry grants or fellowships.
- Graduate students enrolled in various UCD graduate study programs.
- Summer research opportunities for medical students and undergraduate students.
Course offered: The Biological Basis of Radiotherapy, open to residents, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. Please get in touch with Dr. Sana Karam for course information.
Location: RC-1 south, 4th floor.
Sana Karam, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
Education: M.D., Ph.D.
BS: American University of Beirut, Lebanon
MS: University of Maryland, Baltimore
PhD: University of Washington, Seattle
MD: Georgetown University, Washington DC
Dr. Karam joined the department of Radiation Oncology in November 2013. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Seattle, where her studies focused on understanding mechanisms of neurodevelopment. Dr. Karam developed an interest in oncology research during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University. She completed her residency training in radiation oncology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC. Dr. Karam is a recipient of the Paul Calabresi Clinical Oncology Scholars Award (K12), and the pre head and neck cancer SPORE Career Enhancement Program (CEP) award.
Karam’s laboratory is focused on basic and translational research related to
head and neck and CNS cancer. We use molecular, cellular, and preclinical
animal models to understand mechanisms of tumor response to radiation
treatment. Although radiation is a primary modality in the treatment of head
and neck and CNS cancers, there’s considerable progress to be made with
enhancing the efficacy of radiation therapy. One of the main research focuses
in Dr. Karam’s lab is the development of novel therapeutics that can
radio-sensitize tumors and render them more vulnerable to radiation damage. Our
lab has extensively studied how targeting members of the Eph gene family, the
largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, can enhance tumor radiosensitization while limiting radiation toxicity to normal tissue. Another
major focus of Dr. Karam’s lab is studying the effects of radiation on the
immune system in pre-clinical tumor models. Specifically, radiation has been
shown to play a role in modulating T cell populations. Our lab is interested in
unraveling mechanisms of synergy between radiation therapy and immune therapy.
We use both in-vivo and in-vitro models to understand functional
and molecular mechanisms behind tumor response to radiation treatment.
Understanding key concepts such as apoptosis, angiogenesis, invasion,
proliferation, and immune modulation hold great promise for designing
strategies to effectively target cancer. Our goal is to open IRB approved
clinical trials to translate the research findings to patients with these
Immunofluorescence staining in head and neck cancer cell line, MSK-921, showing colocalization of EphB4 (green) and the EGFR receptor (red). Nuclear staining with Dapi is shown in blue.
Shilpa Bhatia, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow
Shilpa received her Master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (India). Thereafter, she joined the department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center where she received her Ph.D. degree with a major in cancer gene therapy. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology. The focus of her research is to identify and validate novel molecular targets that can be used as radiosensitizers for human malignancies. In her free time, Shilpa likes to explore new places and capture some fun moments in her camera.
Sanjana Bukkapatnam - Undergraduate Student
Sanjana is currently an undergraduate student
working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of
Colorado at Denver. In the future, she aspires to attend medical school and
pursue cancer research. In her spare time, she enjoys writing,
spending time with her friends and family, and doing yoga.
Ayman Oweida, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow
Ayman grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and moved to
London, Ontario to pursue his undergraduate education in Biophysics at the
University of Western Ontario. He completed his MSc in Medical Biophysics
investigating novel applications of MRI in animal models of multiple sclerosis.
During his PhD in Experimental Medicine, Ayman worked on orthotopic models of
lung cancer and investigated biological and molecular determinants of tumor
response and resistance to stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. Ayman is
currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology where
he is investigating how radiation can modulate tumor immunogenicity in head and
neck cancers. Recent advances in the field of immunotherapy are particularly
interesting in radiation oncology as radiation can modulate tumor
immunogenicity and render tumors increasingly susceptible to immunotherapy.
Away from the bench, Ayman enjoys writing, working with youth through personal
counseling, and outdoor activities with his wife and 3 kids.
Shelby Lennon, BSChm - PRA
Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Biochemistry
Track from Creighton University in Omaha, NE, in 2016. As an undergraduate
research assistant, she worked with nucleic acids and bacterial riboswitches.
She then moved to Colorado to be a professional research assistant in the
Radiation Oncology Department. She is working on a project that focuses on
radiosensitization of pancreatic cancer. When not researching, Shelby loves
reading and exploring her new home in Colorado.
Andy Phan, BS – Medical
Andy is a medical student at the
University of Colorado. He received his degree in Biochemistry from the
University of Arizona in 2014. During his undergraduate studies, he worked in
the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology on projects pertaining to Parkinson’s
disease and MDMA neurotoxicity. Currently, Andy is characterizing the
radiosensitivity profiles of multiple different thyroid cancer cell lines and
aligning genetic biomarkers to these phenotypes. In his free time, Andy enjoys
playing chess and taking care of his cat named Apollo.
Nomin Uyanga -
currently a sophomore at Colorado School of Mines. She is majoring in
Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and minoring in biomedical engineering.
Outside of classes she is a General Chemistry teaching assistant
and commutes to AMC to provide assistance to
everyone in the lab. Her main goal is to absorb and
learn lab experiments and its associated techniques while learning
to critically connect it to the grand concept. Currently, she is
focusing on animal work and tumor analysis. After graduating in 2020, Nomin
aspires to attend medical school and apply her newfound knowledge to
create a better healthcare system in Mongolia. In her free time,
Nomin likes to spend time playing basketball and volleyball with her friends
Mohammad Hararah -
Otolaryngology Resident PGY-3
Mohammad is in his third year
of residency of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of
Colorado. He is born and raised in San Francisco, CA. He pursued his
undergraduate education at the University of California Berkeley in Molecular and
Cell Biology. He completed an MPH at Johns Hopkins University and his MD at the
University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is interested in pursuing a fellowship in
Head and Neck Oncology and will be working in the Dr. Karam’s to help
investigate how radiation can modulate tumor immunogenicity in head and neck
cancers. When he manages to have free time outside of clinical duties or
research, he enjoys hiking, skiing, and exploring the food scene in Colorado
with his wife.
Ben Van Court, BS – PRA
Ben received his Bachelor of
Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Physics at the
University of Colorado at Boulder in 2017. As an undergraduate, he worked on
image processing research in the Department of Applied Mathematics and tutored
Digital Logic for Electrical Engineering students. In his free time, Ben likes
to paint and record music.
Dr. Sana Karam
Tel : (720)-848-0100
Dr. David Raben
Tel : (720)-848-0100