National Cancer Institute
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Nastaran Zahir, Ph.D.

Nastaran Zahir, Ph.D.

Associate Director
Division of Cancer Biology
Physical Sciences-Oncology
National Cancer Institute

Dr. Nastaran Zahir joined the Division of Cancer Biology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2013 where her primary role as Associate Director is to coordinate transdisciplinary efforts in bringing physical sciences perspectives to cancer research. Dr. Zahir coordinates cross-cutting efforts to integrate physical sciences perspectives with cancer research by fostering transdisciplinary research collaborations, supporting education and outreach programs, and promoting resources for data sharing and biospecimen standards.

Dr. Zahir's passion for advancing the integration of physical sciences and oncology stems from 10 years of transdisciplinary research at the intersection of these fields. Prior to joining the NCI, she received a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley where she gained experience at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a research assistant in plasma physics (Laboratory of Ka-Ngo Leung, Ph.D) and radiation biology (Laboratories of Stephen Lockett, Ph.D. and Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, Ph.D.). Dr. Zahir received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania where she conducted research in the Institute for Medicine and Engineering (Thesis: Spatial-Mechanical Regulation of Mammary Morphogenesis and Therapeutic Resistance; Laboratory of Valerie M. Weaver, Ph.D.). She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Arthritis, and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (Laboratory of Rocky S. Tuan, Ph.D.) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she gained research experience in the fields of stem cell biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and during that time she also served as Senior Editor of the NIH Fellows Editorial Board. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Zahir joined the NIH extramural program as a Health Scientist Administrator at the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives in the former Office of Physical Sciences - Oncology (2009-2013). During her career, Dr. Zahir has co-authored several research publications in both the biological and the physical sciences. In addition, she has taught undergraduate level courses in cancer biology and graduate level courses in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.