This summer, the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center is exploring the role of the mentor-mentee relationship in cancer research training and education. For the third spotlight in this series, we’ll learn more about Amr Elhamamsy and his mentor, Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB and a professor in the UAB Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology at the Heersink School of Medicine.


Amr Elhamamsy is a fourth-year UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences student in the Cancer Biology Theme, who works closely with his mentor, Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., in Samant’s research lab. Elhamamsy attended Tanta University in Egypt where he graduated from the school of pharmacy.

Rajeev Samant, Ph.D. (left), and Amr Elhamamsy (right)Rajeev Samant, Ph.D. (left), and Amr Elhamamsy (right)

After working as an oncology pharmacist in Egypt, Elhamamsy’s focus shifted when his father was diagnosed with leukemia.

“That was the turning point in my interests and career,” Elhamamsy said. “My interest shifted from the field of clinical pharmacy practice to a great passion for basic science and cancer biology research. To further strengthen my lab skills and expand my knowledge of molecular biology, I enrolled in the master’s degree program in biochemistry at Colorado State University.”

Elhamamsy joined Samant’s lab in 2020 after earning his master’s degree at CSU. Since then, he has published a cancer research review and was recently awarded the O’Neal NextGen Scholars predoctoral award. His research project, supported with funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, focuses on interpreting the effects of hypoxia on ribosome biogenesis in breast cancer.

“In Dr. Samant’s laboratory, I found a fascinating research niche that focuses on studying how tumor microenvironmental factors, such as hypoxia, can impact tumor progression and metastasis,” Elhamamsy said. “I have been working on discovering innovative strategies and novel therapeutic approaches to fight breast cancer and improve the clinical outcome of breast cancer patients.

“The long-term goals of Dr. Samant's research are to figure out how metastatic breast cancer works and to find weaknesses that can be used to stop the spread of the disease. One of the major players in cancer progression is intra-tumoral hypoxia, which is an important tumor microenvironmental driver of invasion and metastasis. My proposal focuses on understanding and elucidating the hypoxia-related events that drive the spread of metastatic cancer. This will help us find new ways to fight metastatic breast cancer and improve metastatic cancer patients’ quality of life.”

 

"In Dr. Samant’s laboratory, I found a fascinating research niche that focuses on studying how tumor microenvironmental factors, such as hypoxia, can impact tumor progression and metastasis."

—Amr Elhamamsy

View research publications

 

In this O’Neal Mentorship Spotlight Q&A, the O’Neal Cancer Center asked Elhamamsy to answer a few questions about his work so far. 

Q: Why are you interested in this work and how did you become interested in it?

A:  During my rotation in Dr. Rajeev's lab, I became interested in cancer metastasis research and its implications for improving patient outcomes. In Dr. Rajeev's lab, I found an intriguing research niche that explores how tumor microenvironmental factors, such as hypoxia, can potentially influence tumor growth and metastasis. In addition, one of the lab's recent articles that demonstrated a relationship between hypoxia, enhanced ribosomal RNA production and altered ribosomal RNA modifications really piqued my interest. I decided to join Dr. Rajeev's lab because I found this niche really interesting.

Q: What have you learned while working with your mentor, Rajeev Samant, Ph.D.?

A: I've learned so much from Dr. Rajeev, and I'm grateful for his help and support. Dr. Rajeev has taught me how important it is for a scientist to be persistent and never give up, even when things don't go as planned. We've had a lot of success together over the last three years, but we've also had some setbacks, like experiments that didn't work and papers that were turned down. Dr. Rajeev has been an example to others throughout this whole process. He has taught me how to deal with problems by accepting them, learning from them and getting stronger results. Working with Dr. Rajeev has taught me a lot about how endurance training can be helpful. More importantly, he is keen to learn and explore new fields of research. I believe that it takes time to build a strong mentoring relationship. However, once established, it is everlasting.

Elhamamsy plans on completing his Ph.D. studies in Samant’s lab, which he believes will help him achieve his long-term goal of running his own research lab. Ultimately, Elhamamsy wants to pay it forward and mentor the next generation of researchers while continuing to explore cutting-edge translational cancer research.