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Laboratory Research

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. 




Dr. K​aram’s laboratory is focused on understanding how the immune microenvironment influences cancer cell growth and resistance to therapy. We use various preclinical animal models including head and neck, pancreas, lung, and brain cancer. Another major focus of Dr. Karam’s lab is studying the effects of radiation on the immune system in pre-clinical tumor models.  We examine how radiation, a common treatment modality in many cancers, interacts with immunotherapy to synergize or antagonize the immune response. We use a wide variety of both in-vivo and in-vitro assays to understand functional and molecular mechanisms behind tumor response. Understanding key concepts such as apoptosis, angiogenesis, invasion, proliferation, and immune modulation hold great promise for designing strategies to effectively target cancer. We employ cutting edge technology in our research with a state-of-the art image-guided irradiator with on-board CT and BLI imaging as well as CyTOF and intravital imaging. We have successfully translated our scientific discoveries into clinical trials aimed at improving outcomes for patients with these aggressive malignancies.

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.

Click here to see what we do outside of work

Lab Personnel


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 BukkapatnamUndergraduate 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 Student


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 - Undergraduate Student 


Nomin is 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 and family.   


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.

Dallin Milner, BS – Medical Student

Dallin is a first-year medical student at the University of Colorado. He received his degree in Neuroscience from Brigham Young University in 2017. As an undergraduate, he worked in a developmental biology lab focused on understanding the role of tight junctions and their protective role in lung epithelium. Currently, he is working to understand the role of radiation within the tumor microenvironment. Outside of the lab, he enjoys hiking fourteeners and rock climbing. 


Contact information:

Dr. Sana Karam​​                                       

Tel : (720)-848-0100

Email Dr. Karam

Dr. David Raben

Tel : (720)-848-0100