People

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Kathleen R. Blazer, EdD, MS, CGC

Assistant Professor, Director of Cancer Genomics Education Program

Kathleen R. Blazer is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Sciences, Director of the Cancer Genomics Education Program (CGEP), and a bilingual licensed, board-certified cancer risk genetic counselor with the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics at City of Hope. Dr. Blazer has worked with Co-Principle Investigator Dr. Jeffery Weitzel in the development, administration and assessment of the National Cancer Institute-funded initiatives of the CGEP (a multifaceted cancer genetics education and training program for physicians, allied health care professionals and post-doctoral researchers) since joining the division in 1998. She has first-authored a number of peer-reviewed publications reporting the development and outcomes of the professional education and training research activities conducted by the CGEP. Her doctorate in education research worked within the setting of the CGEP to examine the effectiveness of distance-mediated approaches to cancer genetics training. The outcomes and theoretical framework of her dissertation 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, enduring patient-centered support and community-based research collaborations across the U.S. and internationally. Drs. Blazer and Weitzel were co-recipients 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 their education initiatives. Dr. Blazer is a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the National Society of Genetic Counselors, the American Association of Cancer Education, and the National Human Genome Research Institute Inter-Society Coordinating Committee for Practitioner Education in Genomics.


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Danielle Castillo, BS

Senior Research Associate

Danielle Castillo, BS, is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Clinical Cancer Genetics Molecular Laboratory at the City of Hope, where she assists Mr. Herzog in the maintenance of the Breast Cancer Registry, Hispanic Mutation Project, LiFTUP Project and other research endeavors. After spending a good part of her senior year working on water conservation at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa Mrs. Castillo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Whittier College in 2008 Mrs. Castillo worked as a biologist for Irvine Scientific before coming to the City of Hope in early 2009.


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Sandra Dreike, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Sandra Dreike, MS, CGC is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor who specializes in cancer genetics. 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. Sandra joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2019. She previously practiced as a genetic counselor in Honolulu, HI where she specialized in cancer genetics and general pediatric and adult genetics. Sandra provides genetic counseling and cancer genetic risk assessments at City of Hope. In addition to patient care she assists with the Intensive Course and is involved in research. Sandra is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and Southern California Genetic Counselors (SCGC).


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Deanna Erwin, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor, Interim Supervisor

Deanna Erwin MS, CGC, is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She has a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Her primary clinical focus is providing risk assessment and genetic counseling services to individuals concerned about hereditary cancer risks. Ms. Erwin joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2019, and previously worked as a genetic counselor at the Baylor College of Medicine Adult Genetics Clinic in Houston, TX. She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and is currently serving as Vice-Chair of the Access and Service Delivery Committee. As part of her role in NSGC, she has contributed to multiple resources designed to increase provider efficiency and access to genetic counselors.

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Lauren Gima, MS, CGC

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. She is 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. She also 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

Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Medical Oncology

Dr. Gray received her MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and her fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at The University of Chicago Hospitals. While in fellowship, Dr. Gray obtained a Masters degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School. 
After fellowship, Dr. Gray completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in cancer communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, she joined the faculty of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School where she worked as a medical oncologist and cancer outcomes researcher in the division of Population Sciences and the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology. In the fall of 2016, Dr. Gray moved to The City of Hope Medical Center as an Associate Professor in the Department Medical Oncology, Population Sciences, Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics. Dr. Gray currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Center for Precision Medicine and the Division Chief for Clinical Cancer Genomics at the City of Hope.

Dr. Gray’s research focuses on understanding the medical and psychosocial outcomes related to the use of genomic technologies in cancer care.  One of Dr. Gray’s goals is to understand the relationships between information dissemination, on an individual and population level, and the adoption of personalized cancer technologies. Dr. Gray also studies the clinical implementation of cancer whole-exome sequencing (WES), the "actionability" of sequence data in different populations, the integration of genomic data into the electronic health record and the social and behavioral science methods that can be used to answer emerging questions in cancer dissemination and implementation research. Dr. Gray’s overall goal is to gain a better understanding of how a variety of factors may be working to drive the use of new genomic technologies and design targeted interventions to improve the delivery of personalized cancer care. 


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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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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

Dr. Idos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and trained cancer geneticist, who specializes in the care of patients with Lynch syndrome, FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis) and other inherited syndromes. The goal of his research is to find new ways to prevent cancer and to improve treatment and care for cancer patients.

A UCLA graduate, Dr. Idos has a master’s degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC. He received his medical degree at University of Vermont, continued his residency training at USC and completed his gastroenterology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard. Dr. Idos is an associate clinical professor in Division of Gastroenterology and 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.


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Elisabeth King, RN, FNP

Senior Manager of Genomic Cancer Risk Counseling

Elisabeth King, RN, FNP, AOCNP, AGN is the Senior Manager of Genomic Cancer Risk Counseling 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 Associate's degree in Nursing, and at Frontier Nursing University she earned her Master’s degree in Nursing.  Elisabeth is triple-board certified and holds national certifications as a Family Nurse Practitioner, an Advanced Oncology Nurse Practitioner and an Advanced Genetics Nurse. Recent publications include articles on hereditary pancreas cancer, germline p53 mutations, next-generation sequencing and cognitive dysfunction in cancer survivors.


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Rachelle Manookian, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Rachelle Manookian, M.S., C.G.C., is a board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She has a special interest in prostate and genitourinary cancers. She has an M.S. in genetic counseling from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a B.S. in biological sciences with a focus in neurobiology from University of California Irvine, as well as minors in Spanish literature and cognitive psychology. Manookian joined City of Hope’s Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in April 2019. Prior to City of Hope, she was a general adult genetic counselor at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center, where she served veterans across four VA hospitals in Southern California. Every summer, Manookian volunteers as a one-on-one counselor at Camp Sunshine during their Fanconi Anemia week. She has previous experience volunteering with victims of domestic violence, and is a California state certified domestic violence advocate. She also has special interests in education and bioethics, and her past research investigated the intersection of disability advocacy groups and prenatal genetic counseling sessions.


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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, where she provides cancer genetics services for patients and families suspected to have a hereditary predisposition to cancer, with a focus in Li-Fraumeni syndrome. 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. Other clinical responsibilities include providing pro-bono cancer genetic counseling services to underserved Latino families through an outreach program established by the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics and supported through government and foundations grants and compassionate funding. Current research projects include understanding cancer risk, penetrance, prevalence, and clinical outcomes for individuals with TP53 mutations 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 serves on the Genetic Counseling Advisory Committee for the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association. 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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Susan Shehayeb, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Susan Shehayeb, MS, CGC, is a licensed board-certified genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She has a Master’s of Science degree in genetic counseling from University of California Irvine. Previous to completing her master’s degree, Ms. Shehayeb earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular, cell and developmental biology from University of California Los Angeles. Ms. Shehayeb joined the City of Hope Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics in 2017, having previously undergone clinical training at City of Hope. She is fluent in Arabic and is in the process of achieving fluency in Spanish. She has participated in the training of genetic counseling students from multiple programs, including assuming the role of rotation supervisor. Ms. Shehayeb's clinical role has centered on widening patient access to genetic counseling and testing throughout the City of Hope network as the lead genetic counselor for the City of Hope | South Pasadena site. Her past research investigated lifestyle choices in the context of genetic counseling and genetic testing for cancer risk. She is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Southern California Genetic Counselors.


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Elise Sobotka, MS, MPH

Genetic Counselor

Elise Sobotka, MS, MPH is a genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics. 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. Prior to graduate school, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and German Studies from Brandeis University. Sobotka joined the City of Hope Center for Precision Medicine in July 2020 after graduating from University of Michigan. Her graduate research 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 also include alternative service delivery models, genetic testing and genetic privacy policies, and the intersection of public health and genetic counseling.


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Ilana Solomon, ScM, MA, CGC

Manager, Precision Medicine Program

Ilana Solomon, ScM, MA, CGC is the Manager of the Precision Medicine Program and a board-certified licensed genetic counselor focusing in cancer risk assessment and precision medicine. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins/ National Human Genome Research Institute Genetic Counseling Training Program in January 2013. As part of the City of Hope Center for Precision Medicine, Ilana focuses on the scaled delivery of somatic and germline sequencing. She also has interests in genomics education, ELSI in genomics, patient-centered care and genomic healthcare implementation. She serves as guest faculty to the Keck Graduate Institute’s Genetic Counseling Program teaching health literacy. She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) and the Collaborative Groups of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancer (GCA-ICC).


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Elyssa Zukin, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Elyssa Zukin, MS, CGC is a licensed genetic counselor at City of Hope specializing in cancer genetics. She has a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to completing her master’s degree, Zukin earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a minor in Italian.

Zukin joined City of Hope in 2020 as part of the Center for Precision Medicine. She previously underwent clinical training with several of the Precision Medicine clinicians at the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Prior to her clinical training, she spent one year working at the USC Norris Cancer Hospital enrolling patients in a precision medicine research study.

Zukin’s role at City of Hope will involve participation in the development of the Precision Medicine Program, which aims to use genetics to guide cancer treatment and prevention. 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.