Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences

Price at Dusk

Samer Hanna


Hometown: Lebanon

Undergraduate Institution: Notre Dame University (Lebanon)

Thesis Mentor: Dianne Cox, Ph.D. 

Department: Anatomy & Structural Biology


  • NIH F99/K00 pre-doctoral to post-doctoral transition award supported by the National Cancer Institute
  • American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) immigrant travel award to attend annual meeting supported by the immigration law firm Getson and Schatz, P.C.
  • ASCB local meeting grant awarded to organize a NY Graduate Student Symposium on Cancer & Cell Biology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, NY
  • COMPASS outreach grant from ASCB awarded to organize Cell Biology day for 8th-grade students, held at Einstein

    Description of Research

    Tumor microenvironment is essential in promoting the progression of solid tumors to an invasive, metastatic phenotype. My research focuses on investigating how macrophages, present in large numbers in many tumors, directly interact with tumor cells inducing the invasion of tumor cells into adjacent tissues and progression leading to metastasis.


    tumor microenvironment, macrophages, tunneling nanotubes 

    Why Einstein

    After receiving my master’s degree in Molecular Biology, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. training hoping to gain new skills and advanced expertise in the field I had grown to love. My mentor at the time, Dr. Mirvat El-Sibai, who is an Einstein alumnus herself, encouraged me to apply to Einstein and to contact Dr. Dianne Cox, a professor of anatomy and structural biology and of developmental and molecular biology. Dr. Cox is part of the Gruss-Lipper Biophotonics Center, one of the largest centers dedicated to developing innovative state-of-the-art microscopy imaging modalities, which are readily available through the strong collaborative environment at Einstein. This, and Dr. Cox’s expertise in both tumor cell biology and the interaction with macrophages within the tumor microenvironment, have created the ideal framework for me to learn these techniques, develop my skills and fulfill my dream of becoming a true scientist in cancer research.

    Advice for Prospective Students

    Graduate school can be an intimidating and difficult journey, particularly for international students far from home. My advice is to never be afraid to ask for help and always be eager to learn and work hard to constantly improve your skills throughout this experience. With its extremely supportive and nurturing environment and the numerous accessible resources, Einstein is the ideal place to develop and succeed in building the cornerstone of your scientific career.

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