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Alumni Spotlight on Sarah Khan

Having a close knit community of mentors and friends helped my transition into becoming a scientist go smoother than I ever expected.”

Sarah Khan, MS
MS-RSM Class of 2020

Sarah Khan is a graduate of the MS-RSM program, Class of 2020. She completed the non-thesis track and conducted research with Dr. Pamela Monahan. She is currently a Project Director at Essential Access Health.

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Name: Sarah Khan

MS-RSM Class of 2020

Mentor: Dr. Pamela Monahan, PhD

Project title: Cross talk between Notch and Estrogen Signaling in Ovarian Granulosa Cells 

What is your connection to the CRS community (mentor and position) and what is your current position?

I graduated from the MS-RSM program in 2020. During my time at Northwestern, I conducted research under Dr. Monahan on a project aiming to investigate the communication between notch and estrogen signaling in ovarian granulosa cells. By looking into this crosstalk, we hoped we could shed some light on overall ovarian development and how this may contribute to abnormalities in the ovary. Currently, I work as a Project Director in a clinical research organization called Essential Access Health based in Berkeley, California. 

Could you describe your current research/studies?

As a clinical researcher, I don't regularly work in the usual lab we think of as scientists. Instead, I work on translating bench research to the clinical space. This means working with patients and clinicians to provide them with drugs and treatments that are being investigated. Specifically, I manage a couple of studies that aim to improve the efficacy of various contraceptive methods. Right now, I am closing out a study that was comparing condoms made out of latex and polyurethane. After the data analysis for this study is completed, I will be working on recruiting participants for a hormonal patch study.  

Working with patients and seeing the overall impact of research in the clinic has been amazing, and it has also reaffirmed my goals to pursue medicine in the future. As I transition to becoming a student again this fall during medical school, I hope to take my experiences in clinical research and weave them into my studies and future practice! 

Most importantly, the organization I work for is dedicated to improving reproductive and sexual health access for California residents. This makes my time in research meaningful to my larger interests in health inequity! 

What aspect(s) of CRS did you find most valuable?

I found the CRS community to be the most valuable to me during, and after my studies. Having a close knit community of mentors and friends helped my transition into becoming a scientist go smoother than I ever expected. For example, my lab partner Mackenzie and I are still great friends. We were there for each other during our classes, and we still are as we navigate our careers and ambitions during our post grad life.

What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist in CRS?

I would say the most valuable aspect to my training was the Research lab course I took with Dr. Monahan. This course helped me become more confident in my skills as a lab scientist. It also strengthened by scientific writing skills. Now, whenever I need to read a research paper and analyze it, I think back to my time in the lab and writing my exam papers for graduation. I am able to quickly disseminate and create a report for my colleagues, something I am quite proud of! 

What would you recommend to junior scientists in order for them succeed in their scientific careers?

Keep your mind open to how and where you would like your career to take you. If you try something, and don’t like it- feel comfortable enough to look for something else! After graduation, I worked at two different institutions before finding the perfect role for me in clinical research. 

What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field? 

I don’t exactly know what the next big thing will be, but I hope it is more effective and safe contraceptive methods for males!  

Do you have any notable stories from your time in CRS?

The oncofertility consortium was an important experience for me during our program. We were given the chance to meet and learn from scholars from around the world, and this highlighted to all of us the fervent necessity of students, like ourselves, pursuing a career in reproductive sciences.