People

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Kathleen R. Blazer, EdD, MS, CGC

Clinical Assistant Professor, Director of Cancer Genomics Education Program

KATHLEEN R. BLAZER, EdD, MS, CGC, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Sciences and Director of the Cancer Genomics Education Program, a multifaceted cancer genetics education and training program for physicians, allied health care professionals and post-doctoral researchers, with the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics at City of Hope National Medical Center. Dr. Blazer has played an integral role in the development, administration and assessment of the NCI-funded initiatives of the CGEP since joining the division in 1998. The outcomes and theoretical framework her education research serve as the cornerstone of the Intensive Course and Clinical Cancer Genomics Community of Practice (CCGCoP), which brings cancer genetics practitioners from diverse practice settings together for professional learning and enduring patient-centered support across the U.S. and internationally. She is recipient of the 2019 American Society of Human Genetics Arno Motulsky-Barton Childs Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education, in recognition of the scope and reach of the education initiatives of the CGEP since its inception in 1997. She is a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association of Cancer Education, and the National Human Genome Research Institute Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics.


Headshot of Alexandra CapassoAlexandra Capasso, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Alexandra Capasso, MS, CGC is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics at City of Hope. She received her Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Keck Graduate Institute. Prior to completing her master’s degree, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Southern California Genetic Counselors. Her background in the nonprofit sector with a focus on STEM education for underserved youth and advocating for healthcare equality shapes her research interests. These include increasing accessibility to cancer genetics services through alternative service delivery models and expanding genomics education for patients and providers. Her graduate school research investigated providers opinions on the importance of informed consent, barriers to pre-test counseling, and the utility of educational tools in cancer genetics.


Headshot of Anuja ChitreAnuja Chitre, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

ANUJA CHITRE, MS, CGC is a board-certified, licensed genetic counselor at City of Hope in Duarte, CA where she specializes in clinical cancer genomics. She earned her MS degree in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University and her BSc degree from National University of Singapore. Her primary clinical responsibilities include providing cancer genetic counseling services for City of Hope's patient populations. Her research interests include understanding patient perspectives on genetic testing and incidental findings through precision medicine. Anuja is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Southern California Genetic Counselors.


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Sandra Dreike, MS, CGC

Senior Genetic Counselor

SANDRA DREIKE, MS, CGC is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor who specializes in cancer genetics. Sandra joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2019, where she provides genetic counseling and cancer genetic risk assessments as a Senior Genetic Counselor. She received her Master of Science degree is Genetic Counseling from University of California, Irvine and her bachelor’s degree in Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She previously practiced as a genetic counselor in Honolulu, HI where she specialized in cancer genetics and general pediatric and adult genetics. In addition to patient care she is a faculty member of the City of Hope Intensive Course and Clinical Cancer Genomics Community of Practice, and research. Sandra is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and Southern California Genetic Counselors (SCGC).


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Lauren Gima, MS, CGC

Senior Genetic Counselor

LAUREN GIMA, MS, CGC is a board-certified, licensed genetic counselor at City of Hope in Duarte, CA, where she specializes in clinical cancer genomics. She earned her MS degree in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and BS degree in Human Biology from University of California San Diego. Her primary clinical responsibilities include providing cancer genetic counseling services for City of Hope’s patient population. Ms. Gima is also a faculty member of the City of Hope Intensive Course and Clinical Cancer Genomics Community of Practice, and an adjunct faculty member for the Keck Graduate Institute Genetic Counseling and Genomic Data Analytics masters’ programs. She is also a clinical rotation supervisor for students of the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) Genetic Counseling program, the University of California Irvine Genetic Counseling program, and the University of California Los Angeles Genetic Counseling program, and she serves as a community mentor for the KGI Genetic Counseling program, providing ongoing support and guidance for new genetic counseling students. Lauren is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Gastrointestinal Cancers, the Southern California Genetic Counselors, and the Minority Genetics Professionals Network.


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Stacy W. Gray, MD, AM

Deputy Director, Center for Precision Medicine & Professor, Department of Medical Oncology

STACY GRAY, MD, AM, is a Professor and Deputy Director for the Center for Precision Medicine, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Beckman Research Institute. She is also Chief of City of Hope Division Clinical Cancer Genomics, where she leads the clinical, research and educational initiatives of the program. Dr. Gray's research is focused on realizing the promise of precision cancer medicine for all patients through translational genomics. The Gray lab focuses on improving access to genomic testing and targeted therapies, developing cancer prevention and screening strategies, eliminating care disparities, and rapidly translating innovative and effective new technologies into the clinic through interventions to improve the delivery of precision cancer medicine. Dr. Gray holds multiple leadership roles in a National Institutes of Health research consortium, and has a strong track record of research funding with support from the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Cancer Institute, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Cancer Society, and American Society of Clinical Oncology.


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Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH

Professor, Department of Medical Oncology

A world-renowned cancer geneticist, Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. focuses his clinical practice and his research on precision medicine and clinical cancer genetics in order to improve treatment and care for cancer patients and their families. His particular research interests include hereditary cancer syndromes and the genetic epidemiology of cancer, with an emphasis on hereditary colorectal cancer and other solid tumors. Together with Dr. Kathleen Blazer, Dr. Gruber serves as the co-Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Cancer Genetics Professional Education in a Global Community of Practice program. Dr. Gruber completed his MPH and PhD in cancer epidemiology at Yale University, internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, fellowship in medical oncology at Johns Hopkins, and residency in medical genetics at the University of Michigan. Dr. Gruber has been teaching human genetics to medical students, graduate students, genetic counselors, and post-graduate trainees since 1997. Prior to joining City of Hope, Dr. Gruber was the H. Marvin Pollard Professor of Internal Medicine and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan, and subsequently Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center where he held both the H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman Cancer Research Chair and Jane & Kris Popovich Chair of Cancer Research before moving to City of Hope in 2019 to lead the Center for Precision Medicine. Dr. Gruber has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998 and is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.


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Heather Hampel, MS, CGC

Associate Director, Division of Genetics and Genetic Counseling

HEATHER HAMPEL, MS, CGC, is a Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research and Associate Director of the Division of Cancer Genomics at City of Hope National Cancer Center. She co-leads the administration of more than 20 genetic counselors, 6 GCAs, and additional support staff who provide genetic cancer risk assessment through the City of Hope enterprise and more than 20 CRAs, LVNs and CRNs on the Precision Medicine consent team. Her research focuses on Lynch syndrome and universal tumor screening for Lynch syndrome. She has >190 publications on the prevalence of Lynch syndrome among colorectal and endometrial cancer patients, the best testing protocols, cost-effectiveness, and referral guidelines for cancer genetics. She was on the Board of Directors for the American Board of Genetic Counseling from 2006-2011, serving as President in 2009 and 2010. She has been on the Steering Committee of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable since 2016. She was on the Council of the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancer from 2016-2019, serving as president in 2017-2018. She served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Society of Genetic Counselors in 2022. She was awarded the Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award from the National Society of Genetic Counselors in 2023.


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Josef Herzog

Staff Scientist

Josef Herzog, BS, is the Staff Scientist in the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics Molecular Laboratory at City of Hope, where he coordinates the processing and banking of biologic resources for the CCGCRN and several of the division’s basic molecular research projects. With more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of molecular biology research, as well as aseptic technique and tissue culture, he’s an expert in genetic laboratory techniques, including nucleic acid retrieval and analysis, and inducible gene expression in cell culture systems. Prior to joining City of Hope in 1997, Josef was a Research Lab Technician in the Gene Therapy Laboratories at USC, where his primary work focused on retroviral targeting of gene therapy vectors. Mr. Herzog supervise all aspects of the laboratory operations for biospecimen processing, storage and sample sharing for approved research projects. He has processed blood and tumor samples as part of ongoing studies in the PI’s laboratory, and is an expert in the implementation of advanced instrumentation such as our Sequenom and Ion Torrent next generation sequencer (NGS). He has a B.S. in Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.


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Gregory Idos, MD, MS

Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology

GREG IDOS, MD, MS, is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology at City of Hope National Medical Center. As a board-certified gastroenterologist and trained cancer geneticist, he specializes in the care of patients with Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and other inherited cancer syndromes. His research interests include cancer genetics and cancer prevention; the genetic epidemiology of cancer, with an emphasis on gastrointestinal cancers; and the molecular pathogenesis of cancer. The goal of his research is to find new ways to prevent cancer and to improve treatment and care for cancer patients. He leads one of the largest multicenter studies examining the benefits and harms of “multiplex” gene panel testing. His research also focuses on the evaluation of novel technologies with the goal of providing new tools for hereditary cancer risk assessment and the development of novel cellular models to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of microsatellite instability and Lynch syndrome. He is also a distinguished faculty member of the City of Hope Clinical Cancer Genomics Community of Practice. He has received a variety of honors and awards including the Susan Riley Foundation Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Research and career development award from the USC Clinical Translational Science Institute.



Elisabeth King, RN, FNP

Executive Director of Nursing

Elisabeth King, RN, FNP, AOCNP, AGN, CENP is an Executive Nursing Director and a Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics at City of Hope. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a focus on genetics and biotechnology from University of Texas at Austin. At Austin Community College, she earned her Associates degree in Nursing, and at Frontier Nursing University she earned her Masters degree in Nursing. She is currently a student at Johns Hopkins University pursing a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Masters of Business Administration. Elisabeth holds national certifications as a Family Nurse Practitioner, an Advanced Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Genetics Nurse, and a Certified Executive Nurse Leader. Elisabeth is a national speaker and has published multiple papers spanning diverse subjects such as survivorship and cognitive dysfunction, multidisciplinary care, hereditary pancreatic cancer, and leadership. She is passionate about promoting equitable access to high quality, value-based healthcare for all and using innovation, collaboration, and empathy to produce the best outcomes.


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Bita Nehoray, MS, CGC

Senior Genetic Counselor

BITA NEHORAY, MS, CGC, is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She received her Master’s degree in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Stanford University. Ms. Nehoray joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2012. As a Senior Genetic Counselor she provides cancer genetics services for patients and families suspected to have a hereditary predisposition to cancer, with a focus in Li-Fraumeni syndrome and Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential. Current research projects include understanding cancer risk, penetrance, prevalence, and clinical outcomes for individuals with TP53 pathogenic variants as part of the LiFT UP study, evaluating the spectrum of germline variants in Israeli breast cancer patients, and assessing community-based provider experiences with polygenic risk scores in genetic cancer risk assessment. She also serves on the genetic counseling advisory committee for the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association and is a member of the ClinGen TP53 Variant Curation Expert Panel. She is fluent in Spanish and Farsi and is committed to advancing the provision of cancer genetics services to medically underserved and culturally diverse populations. She is faculty for the City of Hope Intensive Course in Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment. She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, Southern California Genetic Counselors, and the American Society of Human Genetics.


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Wai Park, DO

Clinical Geneticist

Dr. Park is an assistant professor in the department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research and Population Sciences at City of Hope National Medical Center. Dr. Park graduated medical school from The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. She completed her internal medicine residency program at Kaiser Permanente-Fontana. During her internal medicine training, she developed deep interest in genetics and pursued medical genetics training at University of California, Irvine. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and clinical genetics and genomics.


Christina_Rybak-2686-3.pngChristina Rybak, MS, CGC

Senior Genetic Counselor

Christina Rybak, MS, CGC is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor at City of Hope where she specializes in clinical cancer genomics and sees patients at both the Irvine Lennar and Duarte campuses. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University and a Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina. While Christina has worked in cancer genetics for most of her career, she has experience in diverse settings including reproductive health, elective genome sequencing, and laboratory genetics. Her research interests include hereditary gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer risk and early detection, and impact of secondary findings on multigene panel testing. She is a member of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) and National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC).


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Susan Shehayeb, MS, CGC

Senior Genetic Counselor

SUSAN SHEHAYEB, MS, CGC, is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics with the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics at City of Hope National Medical Center. She is fluent in Arabic and has competency in Spanish. She has a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling from University of California Irvine. Ms. Shehayeb's clinical role has centered on widening patient access to genetic counseling and testing throughout the City of Hope network and on genetics representation and expertise in the setting of gynecologic oncology. Her past research has focused on lifestyle choices in the context of hereditary cancer testing, hereditary causes of multiple breast cancers, and hereditary gynecologic cancers. Her special interests include hereditary gynecologic cancers and hereditary genodermatoses, furthering education of providers in the setting of genomic cancer risk assessment, and advocacy for diversity and equity in the field of cancer genetics. She is a faculty member of the City of Hope Intensive Course in Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment, and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Southern California Genetic Counselors.


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Elise Sobotka, MS, MPH, CGC

Genetic Counselor

ELISE SOBOTKA, MS, MPH, CGC is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA. She has a Master of Science in genetic counseling and a Master of Public Health in health management and policy from the University of Michigan. Elise joined the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2020 and is affiliated with City of Hope's Duarte location. Her past research has focused on understanding barriers to cancer genetic services for underserved populations and eliciting ideas for interventions to increase uptake. In addition to access to genetic services, her special interests include alternative service delivery models, genetic testing and genetic privacy policies, Health IT, and the intersection of public health and genetic counseling. She is currently a faculty member of the City of Hope Intensive Course in Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment and vice-chair of the NSGC Position Statement Committee.


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Ilana Solomon, ScM, MA, CGC

Manager, Precision Medicine Program

Ilana Solomon, ScM, MA, is a Manager of the Precision Medicine Program and a licensed board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She received her Master’s degree Genetic Counseling from the Johns Hopkins/National Human Genome Research Institute. Ilana joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2013, where she has provided cancer genetics services for patients and families suspected to have a hereditary predisposition to cancer. Since 2019 she also manages and develops City of Hope’s Precision Medicine Program, with the goal of providing all City of Hope patients with genomic-driven care. She has research interests in healthcare communication and implementation, genetic literacy, and ELSI in genomics. She helped co-develop Helping Oncology Patients Explore (HOPE) Genomics: a patient-directed IT platform for cancer genome sequencing education and return of results. She is faculty for the City of Hope Intensive Course in Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment. She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and Southern California Genetic Counselors.


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Kaila Wilson, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

KAILA WILSON, MS, CGC is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor specializing in clinical cancer genomics at City of Hope Duarte and South Pasadena. She received her Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Keck Graduate Institute. Prior to graduate school, Kaila earned an Honors Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Windsor. She provides cancer genetic counseling services to patients at City of Hope. Kaila’s interests include community outreach and cancer genomic education. Her past research has focused on experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in cancer research, and adult learning theory in self-paced didactics. Kaila is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and of Southern California Genetic Counselors.


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Elyssa Zukin, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

ELYSSA ZUKIN, MS, CGC is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics at City of Hope National Medical Center. She has a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Zukin joined City of Hope in 2020 as part of the Center for Precision Medicine. Her past research investigated the implications on clinical care when patients are found to carry genetic variants in genes associated with hereditary cancer syndromes that have conflicting interpretations by different genetics laboratories. She is a faculty member of the City of Hope Intensive Course and Clinical Cancer Genomics Community of Practice, and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Southern California Genetic Counselors.