Radiation Oncology Residency: Our Residents & Fellows

Pictured: Memorial Sloan Kettering's Radiation Oncology Residents and Fellows. Memorial Sloan Kettering's radiation oncology residents and fellows.

Our residents come from diverse educational and personal backgrounds, but all share a passion for radiation oncology clinical practice and research. We are also fortunate to have two fellows as part of our department, specializing in brachytherapy and translational research. 

We work and learn together — in our recently renovated residents’ room — and consider the camaraderie of the residents and fellows one of the major strengths of our residency program.

First-Year Residents (July 2013-June 2017)

David Barron, MD, PhDPictured: David Barron

I grew up in Texas and completed my undergraduate studies at Rice University where I majored in biochemistry. During college, I spent a year at the University of Oxford where I worked for a laboratory designing novel cancer therapeutics. I then entered the MD/PhD program at the Baylor College of Medicine where I studied the tumor microenvironment in human prostate cancer progression. After a transitional year internship at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, I started my radiation oncology residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Freddy E. Escorcia, MD, PhDPictured: Freddy E. Escorcia

I was born in León, Nicaragua, lived for a short time in Toronto, Canada, and spent my high school and college years in central Illinois. I first discovered scientific research working as a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Fellow, an interest I continued to nurture as a National Institutes of Health Research Scholar working at the National Cancer Institute. This led to my joining the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program of Weill Cornell Medical College, The Rockefeller University, and the Sloan Kettering Institute. While under the mentorship of Sloan Kettering Institute researcher David Scheinberg, my thesis work involved engineering and evaluating the efficacy of alpha-particle radioimmunotherapy agents, which target the tumor vasculature. Following completion of the transitional year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I joined the radiation oncology residency program to cultivate my combined interests in basic science, technology, and clinical oncology.

Carl J. DeSelm, MD, PhDPictured: Carl J. DeSelm,

I was born and raised in Telluride, Colorado, and grew up an avid skier. I completed my undergraduate degree in biochemistry and cell biology at Dartmouth College and in the summers worked on a squid boat in Cape Cod at the Marine Biology Laboratory. I then obtained an MD at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as a PhD in cell biology, specifically studying osteoclast function and the cellular mechanisms of bone breakdown in disease states. Upon graduation, I completed an internal medicine categorical year at Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital before moving to Memorial Sloan Kettering for my radiation oncology residency.

Benjamin Lok, MDBenjamin Lok

I received my undergraduate degree in management and organizational analysis from the New York University Stern School of Business. I completed my medical training at the NYU School of Medicine and studied pathways of DNA repair as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellow. After a visit to Haiti in 2008, I co-founded For Hope International, an organization dedicated to empowering Haitian health professionals. Prior to joining the radiation oncology residency program, I completed an internship in internal medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital.

Neil K. Taunk, MD, MSNeil K. Taunk

I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. I attended Cornell University where I majored in economics. I went to medical school at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. I completed a master’s degree in clinical and translational sciences focusing on statistical methods, and wrote my dissertation on clinicopathologic prognostic markers in breast cancer. Prior to joining the radiation oncology residency program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I completed an internship in internal medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Second-Year Residents (July 2012–June 2016)

Carla Hajj, M​DCarla Hajj, MD

I was born and raised in Lebanon. I received an MD degree from the Medical School of Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon, and completed my internal medicine internship at the American University of Beirut. During that time, I was also a health reporter for Noun Magazine, a publication focusing on women’s issues. Before joining the radiation oncology residency, I completed a two-year research fellowship on radiation-induced apoptotic death and DNA repair in Zvi Fuks's laboratory, under the guidance of radiation biologist Adriana Haimovitz-Friedman.

Zachary Kohutek, MD, PhDZachary Kohutek, MD, PhD

I am originally from the Ohio River Valley and moved to Virginia during high school. I attended the College of William and Mary, where I studied biology and music. I entered the MD/PhD program at the University of Virginia in 2003. During my PhD training in the Department of Pathology, I studied the role of protein kinase C in regulating the migration and invasion of glioblastoma cells. After a transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I joined the radiation oncology residency.

Ryan Lanning, MD, PhDRyan Lanning, MD, PhD

I am originally from San Diego, California. I studied biology and chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. After graduation, I spent a year as an optical engineer at the Beckman Laser Institute developing novel noninvasive techniques to characterize breast cancer in patients. Next, as an MD/PhD candidate at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, I completed my doctoral dissertation in medical engineering at MIT. My internship was in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Paul Romesser, MDPaul Romesser, MD

I was born and raised in Redondo Beach, California. I earned a combined BA/MD at Boston University. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research scholar, I studied genetic mechanisms of lymphomagenesis and oncogene addiction at the National Cancer Institute between my second and third years of medical school. After completing a transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I joined the radiation oncology residency. I have served on Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Ethics Committee, and am a member of the Medical Society of New York Bioethics Committee.

Jeremy Setton, MDJeremy Setton, MD

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and spent a good portion of my childhood in England before coming to the United States at the age of ten. I received my undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Tufts University before completing medical school at Stony Brook University in 2011. Prior to joining the radiation oncology residency, I completed an internship at Winthrop University Hospital.

Tzu-I Jonathan Yang, MDT. Jonathan Yang, MD

I was born in Taiwan and moved to Los Angeles at a young age. After completing my undergraduate studies in radiologic sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I worked as a radiation therapist at the UNC Comprehensive Cancer Center. I went on to medical school at Yale School of Medicine, during which I spent a year at the Netherlands Cancer Institute as a research fellow. I joined the radiation oncology residency program after completing a transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Third-Year Residents (July 2011–June 2015)

John Cuaron, MDJohn Cuaron, MD

I was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado. I attended Stanford University and majored in human biology. After graduation, I stayed in the Bay Area and worked in a laboratory dedicated to developing novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. I moved to Boston in 2006 and attended medical school at Boston University. I completed my internship at Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Massachusetts, prior to joining the radiation oncology residency program.

Neil Desai, MD, MHSNeil Desai, MD, MHS

I was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, although I spent a year of my childhood in India. I attended Dartmouth College for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in biology and minored in international relations. I completed medical school at Yale University before moving to New York for a transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering. I subsequently entered the radiation oncology residency program.

Naamit Kurshan Gerber, MDNaamit Kurshan Gerber, MD

I grew up in New York and completed my undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where I majored in the history of science. I then came to New York for medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. During medical school, I spent a year at the National Cancer Institute as a research fellow studying the effects of radiation on cell signaling pathways. I completed my internship year here at Memorial Sloan Kettering before beginning the residency program.

Daniel Spratt, MDDaniel Spratt, MD

I have lived all over the United States, and grew up primarily in Eugene, Oregon. Prior to pursuing a career in medicine, I studied exercise physiology and sports nutrition at the University of Hawaii. While working as a personal trainer, I changed my focus toward a degree in chemistry at Georgia State University, and completed my MD at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. I completed a transitional-year internship in South Carolina, before coming to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Zachary Zumsteg, MD, MSZachary Zumsteg, MD, MS

I was born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, majoring in music engineering. I subsequently enrolled in graduate school at Stanford University, where I earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Following this, I went to medical school at UCLA and spent a year as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellow. I spent my intern year at UCLA-Olive View Medical Center before joining the radiation oncology residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Fourth-Year Residents (July 2010–June 2014)

Michael R. Folkert, MD, PhDMichael R. Folkert, MD, PhD

I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in Minot, North Dakota. I completed my bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I held appointments in accelerator physics at MIT and medical physics at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology before completing my MD degree at Harvard Medical School in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. I came to Memorial Sloan Kettering after a medicine internship at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sarah Milgrom, MDSarah Milgrom, MD

I am originally from Denver, Colorado. I attended Princeton University, where I majored in molecular biology. After spending a year involved in translational research at the National Institutes of Health, I matriculated to Yale School of Medicine. One highlight of my medical school experience was spending three months working at a clinic in rural Ecuador. I completed the transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering before joining the radiation oncology residency.

Carmen A. Perez, MD, PhDCarmen A. Perez, MD, PhD

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where I also completed my undergraduate studies in microbiology. I subsequently moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I earned my MD/PhD degree from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. My graduate work focused on the molecular function of transcription factors involved in cancer biology. I then came to New York for my transitional-year internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering before starting the radiation oncology residency program.

Nadeem Riaz, MDNadeem Riaz, MD

I was born in Manhattan, but raised in the suburbs of New Jersey. I completed undergraduate work in computer science and philosophy at Rutgers University before heading to Stanford for medical school and a master’s degree in bioinformatics. I stayed at Stanford for a preliminary year in internal medicine before beginning my residency at Memorial-Sloan Kettering. My research interests are in the genetic determinants of radiation sensitivity, head and neck cancer, bio-informatics, and imaging biomarkers.

Sewit Teckie, MDSewit Teckie, MD 

I am of Eritrean origin, born in Swaziland and raised in Westchester County, New York. I studied economics at Harvard College, and then completed my MD at Harvard Medical School. I came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in June 2009, for both the transitional-year internship and the radiation oncology residency. As a PGY-4, I will spend a research year in the Ping Chi lab, part of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, investigating the genetic and epigenetic drivers of sarcomas.

Marsha Laufer, MD, PhDMarsha Laufer, MD, PhD

I have spent most of my academic life in New York City, completing my undergraduate studies and a combined MD/PhD degree at Columbia University. I came to train in radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering after an internal medicine internship at New York University. My research interests include the molecular pathogenesis of breast cancer and cancer epigenetics.

Brachytherapy Fellow (July 2013–June 2014)

Lara Hathout, MDLara Hathout

I was born in Damascus, Syria, and moved to Montreal, Canada, when I was seven years old. I proudly speak Arabic, French, English, and some Spanish. I was introduced to brachytherapy when I was a second-year medical student and knew then I wanted to pursue training in this field. I received my MD degree from the University of Montreal and entered the radiation oncology residency program there, graduating in June 2013. I came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in July 2013 as a one-year clinical fellow on the Brachytherapy Service. My main research interests are prostate LDR and HDR brachytherapy as well as interstitial and endocavitary uterine HDR brachytherapy.

Lymphoma Fellow (July 2013–June 2014)

Shunan Qi, MDShunan Qi

I finished my medical education in Guangzhou and Beijing, China, and subsequently joined the Cancer Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Science as a radiation oncologist. Now I work as a first-year lymphoma fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Clinical Translational Research Fellow (July 2013–June 2014)

Daniel Higginson, MDDaniel Higginson, MD

I completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Utah, where I worked for three years in an HIV virology lab. I went to medical school at Johns Hopkins University, where I spent an additional year doing research as a Howard Hughes medical fellow in the laboratory of Solomon Snyder. After an internship in internal medicine at Georgetown University and a residency in radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina, I now work as a research fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering, with the goal of becoming a physician-scientist.