Lisa R. Karam has been a research chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its predecessor, the National Bureau of Standards, since 1983. Her work has focused on the interaction of ionizing radiation in biological systems (primarily, proteins and DNA) and the application of radiation and radioactivity in industry and medicine (including radioendofullerenes and radiopharmaceuticals).
As leader of the Radioactivity Group at NIST from early 1998, Dr. Karam managed the development of standard radioactive sources and played a leading role in the group's international interactions in radionuclide metrology. She has also had extensive interactions with leaders in the radiopharmaceutical, radiological, and clinical industries, as well as other users of radioactive sources. She served for 18 months as Senior Technical Advisor to the NIST Director for the Health Care Industry, during which she implemented high-level relationships between NIST and leaders in the industry. Chief of the Radiation Physics Division at NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory from 2003 until 2017, she was the primary liaison for the division with the Department of Homeland Security on issues concerning radiation use and detection, radioactive calibration sources, and protocols and standards for radiation measurements. She had been the co-chair of White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Homeland and National Security Subcommittee on Standards (SoS) for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) from 2008 until 2016, and served as a subject matter expert on the NSTC’s interagency working group on medical imaging. She had also been the Chairman of the InterAmerican Metrology System (SIM) technical committee on ionizing radiation (2003-2017) and has been President of the Consultative Committee on Ionizing Radiation, Measurement of Radionuclides [CCRI(II)] since 2011.
For 15 years, Dr. Karam was the NIST representative to the Council on Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards (CIRMS), a not-for-profit organization of individuals, organizations, and corporations from national and international government, academic, and private industry sectors who identify strategic needs and directions for ionizing radiation measurements and standards. Dr. Karam received her B.Sci. degree in biology and chemistry from Berry College (Georgia) in 1982, and her M.Sci. (1983) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees in chemistry from The American University in Washington, DC. As a Senior Scientist in NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory, her research interests are radioactivity and dosimetry measurements (particularly in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy), and a robust infrastructure for international metrology of ionizing radiation. She is currently representing PML interests in the modernization of the Radiation Physics Building (245) on the NIST Gaithersburg campus.