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Our Team

Dukagjin Blakaj, MD, PhD





Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology






  • 2011 Best of ASTRO – Roentgen Society Award. Research on prostate cancer and the use of a biodegradable balloon – feasibility and rectal toxicity analysis.
  • 2008 Dean’s Recognition Award – awarded for exceptional academic and clinical performance
  • 2006 International Biophysical Society Student Research Achievement Award
  • 2006 Rudin Scholar Recipient – awarded to senior Einstein students for academic achievement
  • 2000 Distinction of Excellence in Masters Thesis – Wesleyan University.
  • 1999 American Chemical Society Analytical Award recipient
  • 1998 American Heart Association Research Fellow –Yale University, research on neutrophil differentiation


  • 2015: ESTRO- Oral Presentation
  • 2014: ACRO- Oral Presenation
  • 2012: AANS/ASTRO Sterotactic Radiosurgery course for Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology residents- Chosen Participant

Research Activities

  • 2014-Current: Institutional PI of NRG-HN001: Randomized Phase II and Phase III Studies of Individualized Treatment for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Based on Biomarker Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) – National PI Nancy Lee
  • 2013-Current: Human papilloma virus (HPV) E2 protein listeria-based vaccine research. Immune modulation in H&N and cervical cancer in the setting of radiation therapy. - We are currently conducting mouse experiments with plans to advance to human trials . Mentor Drs Ted Teknos and Arnab Chakravarti.
  • 2013-Current: HPV E2 protein analysis as a radiation resistance biomarker in cell lines in which E2 gene or individual domains of the gene are disrupted, as well as in intact E2 protein Cell survival curves created utilizing RNAi technology. Mentor Drs Ted Teknos and Arnab Chakravarti.
  • 2013-Current: H&N Papillomavirus HPV 16 variant analysis. In cervical cancer, non-European variants have an 11 factor increased risk of cervical cancer diagnosis compared to the European variants. Initial analysis includes 43 H&N patient samples , with plans to include samples from larger national studies. Mentor Drs Ted Teknos and Arnab Chakravarti.


  • Blakaj DM, Guiou M, Weicker M, Mendel E. “The evolving treatment paradigm for metastatic spine disease.” World Neurosurg. Feb 25. pii: S1878-8750(15)00119-9 (2015).
  • Blakaj DM; Zhang, H; Blakaj, A; Mourad W.F.; Spierer M.; Kalnicki, S; Guha, C. Clinical and Molecular Exploration of the Impact of Radiotherapy on Marfan Syndrome Patients. Practical Radiation Oncology Volume 3, Issue 3 , Pages e127-e130, July 2013
  • Mourad WF, Young R, Kabarriti R, Blakaj DM, Shourbaji RA, Glanzman J, Patel S, Ohri N, Yaparpalvi R, Beitler JJ, Kalnicki S, Garg MK. 25-Year Follow-up of HIV-positive Patients with Benign Lymphoepithelial Cysts of the Parotid Glands: A Retrospective Review. Anticancer Res. 2013 Nov;33(11):4927-32.
  • Mourad WF, Shasha D, Blakaj DM, Khorsandi AS, Shourbaji RA, Glanzman J, Kabarriti R, Young R, Patel S, Katsoulakis E, Gámez M, Woode R, Lazarus C, Hu KS, Harrison LB. Comprehensive head and neck radiotherapy dose-volume constraints do not apply to smaller volumes. Anticancer Res. 2013 Oct;33(10):4483-9.
  • Mourad WF, Hu KS, Shourbaji RA, Dolan J, Blakaj DM, Shasha D, Harrison LB. Exploration of the role of radiotherapy in the management of early glottic cancer with complete carotid artery occlusion. Onkologie. 2013;36(7-8):433-5. doi: 10.1159/000353750. Epub 2013 Jul 8.
  • Mourad WF, Blakaj DM, Kabarriti R, Young R, Shourbaji RA, Glanzman J, Patel S, Yaparpalvi R, Kalnicki S, Garg MK. Lack of adjuvant radiotherapy may increase risk of retropharyngeal node recurrence in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck after transoral robotic surgery. Case Rep Oncol Med. 2013;2013:727904. doi: 10.1155/2013/727904. Epub 2013 Jun 13.
  • Mourad WF, Young BM, Young R, Blakaj DM, Orhi N, Shourbaji RA, Manolidis S, Gámez M, Kumar M, Khorsandi A, Khan MA, Shasha D, Blakaj A, Glanzman J, Garg MK, Hu KS, Kalnicki S, Harrison LB. Clinical validation and applications for CT-based atlas for contouring the lower cranial nerves for head and neck cancer radiation therapy. Oral Oncol. 2013 Sep;49(9):956-63. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.03.449. Epub 2013 Apr 25.
  • Mourad WF, Hu KS, Shourbaji RA, Ishihara D, Lin W, Kumar M, Blakaj DM, Harrison LB. The impact of computed tomography on early glottic cancer outcomes. Onkologie. 2013;36(3):83-6. doi: 10.1159/000348529. Epub 2013 Feb 21.
  • E. Gez, S. Cytron, R.B. Yosef, D. London, B.W.Corn, S.Alani, G.Scarzello, F. DalMoro, G. Sotti, F. Zattoni, I. Koziol, T. Torre, M. Bassignani, S. Kalnicki, R. Ghavamian, D. Blakaj, M. Anscher, M sommerauer, D. Jocham, C. Melchert, S. Huttenlocher, G. Kovacs, M. Garg. Application of an Interstitial and Biodegradable Balloon System for Prostate-Rectum Separation during Prostate Cancer Radiotherapy: a Prospective Multi-Center Study. Radiat Oncol. 2013 Apr 23;8(1):96. [Epub ahead of print]
  • W.F. Mourad, D. Hauerstock, R.A. Shourbaji, K.S. Hu, B. Culliney, W. Lin, Z. Li, D. Blakaj, A. Jacobson, T. Tran, S. Manolidis, S. Schantz, M. Urken, M. Persky, L.B. Harrison. Trimodality Management of Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma and Review of the Literature. Accepted in AJCO – In Press
  • D. Blakaj, N. Fernandez-Fuentes N, Z. Chen, R. Hedge, A. Fiser, RD Burk, M. Brenowitz. Evolutionary and biophysical relationships among the papillomavirus E2 proteins. Front Biosci. 2009 Jan1;14:900-917. PMID: 19273107
  • S. Roday, M. Sturm, D. Blakaj and V. Schramm, "Detection of an abasic site in RNA with stem-loop DNA beacons: Application to an activity assay for Ricin Toxin A-Chain" J Biochem Biophys Methods. Jan 2008 70:6 (945-953). PMID: 18276012
  • D. Blakaj, C. Kattamuri, S. Khrapunov, R. Hegde & M. Brenowitz; Indirect Readout of DNA Sequence by Papillomavirus E2 Proteins Depends Upon Net Cation Uptake, Journal of Molecular Biology, 2006. 358 (1): p.224-240. PMID: 16513133
  • D.Blakaj & M. Brenowitz; Thermodynamic, phylogenetic and structural studies of the mechanism of DNA sequence specific binding by papillomavirus E2 proteins. Yeshiva University Doctoral Thesis, 2006, 151 pages; 3216820
  • D. Blakaj, K. McConnell, D. Beveridge and A. Baranger; Molecular Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Protein-RNA Interactions: Mutation of a Conserved Residue Modifies Stacking Interactions and Structural Adaptation in the U1A-Stem Loop 2 RNA Complex, JACS; 2001. 123 (11): p.2548-2551. PMID: 11456923

Abstract Publications

  • D. Blakaj, M. Garg, Z. Chen, R. Smith, M. Prystowsky, R. Burk, N. Schelcht, C. Guha, S. Kalnicki. Characterization of Human Papillomavirus 16 Variants in Head and Neck Squamous cell Carcinoma. (Poster) Abstract # 1836, ASTRO Annual Meeting 2012.
  • D. Blakaj, M. Kinon, L. Hong, S. Kalnicki, P. Lasala, M. Garg. Radiation Necrosis After Radiosurgery: Correlation of Volume And Dose Parameters In Patients With Metastatic Brain Lesions. (Poster) Abstract # 1794, ASTRO Annual Meeting 2012.
  • D. Blakaj, P. Scripes, W. Skinner, S. Viswanathan, H. Haynes, Y. Eng, C. Sarta, M. Haigentz, B. Schiff, R. Smith, C. Guha, S. Kalnicki, M. Garg. Prospective analysis of QOL in patients undergoing concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. ASCO-H&N Meeting 2012, Abstract #e16058.
  • D. Blakaj, J. Skinner, A. Smith, H. Haynes, M. Haigentz, B. Schiff, R. Smith, and S. Kalnicki. Prospective Analysis of QOL in Patients Undergoing Concurrent Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy for Locally Advanced head and Neck Cancer. American Radium Society April 30th 2011.
  • R. Hannan, J. Shan, S. Gandhi, K. Bernstein, D. Blakaj, C. Montagna, T. Tong, S. Kalnicki, M. Garg, C. Guha. TMPRSS2-ERG loci abnormality in Salvage Radiation Therapy (sRT) refractory prostate cancer patients. (Poster) ASTRO Annual Meeting 2011 81:2 SUPPL. 1 (S761)
  • D. Blakaj, J.L. Fox, J. Manzerova, R. Hannan, L. Hong, K.J. Mehta, S. Kalnicki. Toxicity of hypofractionated adjuvant radiation after breast-conserving surgery for DCIS. (Poster) ASCO-Breast Symposium 2011 29:27 SUPPL. 128
  • D. Blakaj, H. H. Zhang, K. Mehta, B. Clarke, C. Guha, M. Spierer. Radiation therapy and marfan syndrome: A case presentation with a clinical and molecular biology correlation. ASTRO Annual Meeting 2010 78:3 SUPPL. 1 (S666)
  • K.J. Mehta K, H. Kuo, R. Yaparpalvi, S. Mutyala, D. Blakaj, S. Kalnicki. Rectal Dose Sparing using a Multi-channel Vaginal Cylinder vs. A Single Channel Vaginal Cylinder. ASTRO Annual Meeting 2010 78:3 SUPPL. 1 (S415)