Dhifaf Sarhan

Dhifaf Sarhan

Assistant Professor | Docent
Visiting address: ,
Postal address: H5 Laboratoriemedicin, H5 Patologi, 141 52 Huddinge

About me

  • Dhifaf Sarhan is Associate Professor (Docent), Group leader at the
    Department of Laboratory Medicine Huddinge (LABMED)/Division of Pathology, and the Division Head.
    Sarhan was recruited to the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell
    biology as Assistant Professor in Tumor immunology/Immunotherapy in 2019 and
    as group leader at LABMED/Division of Pathology in 2021 focusing on deciphering immune interactions and responses in solid tumors. Sarhan completed her Ph.D. at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet in
    2014 focused on studying natural killer (NK) cells in the tumor microenvironment followed by postdoctoral training at the University of
    Minnesota. Her group research interest focuses on studying the
    consequences of the tumor microenvironment (TME) on shaping the immune
    effector cell function and memory aiming to remodel the TME to improved
    cancer immunotherapies in a sex-dependent manner.

    Honors and awards
    Junior Investigator Award, Swedish Cancer Society
    Jonas Söderquist's scholarship
    Selected for 3-years CANCER CORE EUROPE advanced training program TRYTRAC in
    translational/clinical research and leadership
    World Immunotherapy Council, Young Investigator Award
    Best abstract, Cancer immunotherapy and immunomonitoring (CITIM)
    Pancreatic cancer fellow, Swedish Cancer Society
    Postdoctoral fellowship, Karolinska Institutet and University of Minnesota,
    Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
    Award for research project, ImmunoTools
    Scholarship, Swedish Order of Freemasons

    Centrum for Innovative Medicine
    Swedish Cancer Society
    Radiumhemmetsforsknings fonder
    Stiftelsen Clas Groschinsky Minnesfonds
    KI Stiftelser och Fonder
    Stiftelsen Sigurd and Elsa Goljes Minne
    The Sjöberg foundation

    Jonas Söderquist foundation
    Postdoctoral fellowship Karolinska Institutet, University of Minnesota
    Novo, NovoSeeds
    Lindhes Advokatbyrå
    Robert Lundbergs minnesstiftelse

    2010-2014- PhD, Medical Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
    2008-2010: M.S, Biomedicine, Karolinska Institutet
    2005-2008: B.S Molecular biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

    Teaching assignments
    Medicine program, Biomedical science program, Biomedical laboratory science, and doctoral education.


  • *Research line I: Adaptive NK cell immunological memory in cancer*
    For decades NK cells were believed to lack the immunological memory, however
    recent groundbreaking research by us and others revealed the opposite. We
    discovered novel mechanisms used by a subset of NK cells with immunological
    memory, called adaptive NK cells, to resist the suppressive tumor
    environment. In this project we focus on investigating the molecular
    mechanisms behind NK cell memory to tumors and the crosstalk with antigen
    presenting cells like dendritic cells and B cells in cancer.

    *Research Line II: Studies of sex immune dimorphism in the TME
    We found that a G-protein coupled receptor has predictive value for female
    cancer patients and induce immune cell exhaustion. Hormone regulation of the ligand for this
    receptor has been shown to induce anti-inflammatory properties in
    macrophages. We revealed that this receptor impacts the immune landscape in pancreatic
    cancer TME biased by sex dimorphism. Extensive examination of the signal
    integration is needed to further elucidate its mechanism of action and
    clinical impact.


  • Teaching in immunology and tumor immunology at Karolinska Institutet and
    Uppsala University.


All other publications


  • Study sex immune dimorphism in the tumor microenvironment
    Cancer&Allergi fonden
    1 April 2024 - 1 April 2025
  • Study the therapeutic potential of adaptive NK cells in solid tumors
    Radiumhemmet Research funding
    1 January 2024 - 31 December 2026
  • Study adaptive NK cells in cancer
    Swedish Cancer Society
    1 January 2024 - 1 January 2027
  • Sex immune dimorphism in cancer
    KI internal funding
    1 January 2023 - 1 January 2025
  • Studies of newly discovered adaptive NK cells with therapeutic potential in solid tumors
    Radiumhemmets Research funds
    1 January 2022 - 31 December 2024
  • Targeting FPR2 as a novel approach for immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer female patients – Studies of sexual immune dimorphism in the tumor microenvironment
    Centrum for innovative medicine
    1 January 2022 - 1 January 2025
  • Study aNK cells in GBM
    KI doctoral studies funding
    1 July 2021 - 1 July 2025
  • Study adaptive NK cell signaling in cancer
    Swedish Cancer Society
    1 February 2021 - 1 February 2027
  • Studies of the newly discovered adaptive NK cells in cancer
    Swedish Cancer Society
    1 January 2021 - 31 December 2024
  • Studies of newly discovered adaptive NK cells in cancer immunotherapy
    Stiftelsen Clas Groschinsky Minnesfonds
    1 January 2021 - 31 December 2024
  • New immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer by reprogramming macrophages
    Sjöberg foundation
    1 January 2021 - 1 January 2024
  • Decoding adaptive NK cell signaling
    Jonas Söderquist's scholarship
    1 January 2020 - 1 January 2023


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 2021-2025

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2021
  • Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, 2014
  • Degree Of Master Of Medical Science 120 Credits, Karolinska Institutet, 2010

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