University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Ross Okimoto, MD

Ross Okimoto, MD

Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Cancer Genetics

Research Summary

Dr. Okimoto is a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas. He is a laboratory based physician-scientist who broadly aims to translate basic science discoveries into novel therapies for patients with cancer. He is currently interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that promote tumor dissemination and metastasis.


  • Creighton University, Omaha, NE, BS, 05/2002, Biology
  • Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE, MD, 05/2009, Medicine
  • Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA Residency, 06/2012, Internal Medicine
  • University of California, San Francisco, CA, Fellowship, 06/2017, Medical Oncology

Professional Experience

  • 1999-2002
    Research Associate, Hereditary Cancer Institute, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE
  • 2002-2003
    Research Assistant, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • 2003-2006
    Research Technologist, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA
  • 2009-2012
    Resident Housestaff, Internal Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA 
  • 2012-2017
    Fellow, Medical Oncology, UCSF
  • 2017-2018
    Adjunct Clinical Instructor, Medical Oncology, UCSF 
  • 2018-present
    Assistant Professor, Medical Oncology, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 1999-2001
    Creighton University Presidential Scholar
  • 2003
    Harvard University Health Careers Scholarship
  • 2007
    Creighton University School of Medicine Dean's Educational Scholarship
  • 2010
    Dean's Excellence in Teaching Citation - Intern, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • 2011
    Dean's Excellence in Teaching Citation - Resident, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • 2012
    Resident Teacher of the Year Award, Department of Internal Medicine, Tufts Medical Center
  • 2014-2015
    NIH T32 Molecular Pathology of Cancer Award
  • 2015
    AAAS/Science Program for Excellence in Science
  • 2015
    Best Basic Science Research Poster - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Retreat
  • 2015
    A.P. Giannini Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2016
    Best Basic Science Research Poster - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research
  • Retreat
  • 2017
    Best Basic Science Research Presentation - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Retreat
  • 2017
    Best Research Poster Award - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Conference
  • 2018
    NIH-NCI Career Development Award (K08)
  • 2018
    UCSF Department of Medicine Cohort Initiative Award
  • 2019
    American Society of Clinical Investigation Young Physician Scientist Award

Selected Publications

  1. Okimoto RA, Wu W, Nanjo S, Olivas V, Lin YK, Ponce RK, Oyama R, Kondo T, Bivona TG. CIC-DUX4 oncoprotein drives sarcoma metastasis and tumorigenesis via distinct regulatory programs. J Clin Invest. 2019 07 22; 129(8):3401-3406.
    View on PubMed
  2. Fish L, Navickas A, Culbertson B, Xu Y, Nguyen HCB, Zhang S, Hochman M, Okimoto R, Dill BD, Molina H, Najafabadi HS, Alarcón C, Ruggero D, Goodarzi H. Nuclear TARBP2 Drives Oncogenic Dysregulation of RNA Splicing and Decay. Mol Cell. 2019 09 05; 75(5):967-981.e9.
    View on PubMed
  3. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Metastasis: From head to tail. Cell Cycle. 2017 03 19; 16(6):487-488.
    View on PubMed
  4. Okimoto RA, Breitenbuecher F, Olivas VR, Wu W, Gini B, Hofree M, Asthana S, Hrustanovic G, Flanagan J, Tulpule A, Blakely CM, Haringsma HJ, Simmons AD, Gowen K, Suh J, Miller VA, Ali S, Schuler M, Bivona TG. Inactivation of Capicua drives cancer metastasis. Nat Genet. 2017 01; 49(1):87-96.
    View on PubMed
  5. Okimoto RA, Lin L, Olivas V, Chan E, Markegard E, Rymar A, Neel D, Chen X, Hemmati G, Bollag G, Bivona TG. Preclinical efficacy of a RAF inhibitor that evades paradoxical MAPK pathway activation in protein kinase BRAF-mutant lung cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 11 22; 113(47):13456-13461.
    View on PubMed
  6. Premasekharan G, Gilbert E, Okimoto RA, Hamirani A, Lindquist KJ, Ngo VT, Roy R, Hough J, Edwards M, Paz R, Foye A, Sood R, Copren KA, Gubens M, Small EJ, Bivona TG, Collisson EA, Friedlander TW, Paris PL. An improved CTC isolation scheme for pairing with downstream genomics: Demonstrating clinical utility in metastatic prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer. Cancer Lett. 2016 09 28; 380(1):144-52.
    View on PubMed
  7. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Tracking Down Response and Resistance to TRK Inhibitors. Cancer Discov. 2016 Jan; 6(1):14-6.
    View on PubMed
  8. Hrustanovic G, Olivas V, Pazarentzos E, Tulpule A, Asthana S, Blakely CM, Okimoto RA, Lin L, Neel DS, Sabnis A, Flanagan J, Chan E, Varella-Garcia M, Aisner DL, Vaishnavi A, Ou SH, Collisson EA, Ichihara E, Mack PC, Lovly CM, Karachaliou N, Rosell R, Riess JW, Doebele RC, Bivona TG. RAS-MAPK dependence underlies a rational polytherapy strategy in EML4-ALK-positive lung cancer. Nat Med. 2015 Sep; 21(9):1038-47.
    View on PubMed
  9. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. AXL receptor tyrosine kinase as a therapeutic target in NSCLC. Lung Cancer (Auckl). 2015; 6:27-34.
    View on PubMed
  10. Okimoto RA, Perry A, Rubenstein JL. 77-year-old woman with a dural-based mass. Marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (MZBCL). Brain Pathol. 2015 Jan; 25(1):111-2.
    View on PubMed
  11. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Recent advances in personalized lung cancer medicine. Per Med. 2014; 11(3):309-321.
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  12. Okimoto RA, Van Etten RA. Navigating the road toward optimal initial therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia. Curr Opin Hematol. 2011 Mar; 18(2):89-97.
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  13. Kim WJ, Okimoto RA, Purton LE, Goodwin M, Haserlat SM, Dayyani F, Sweetser DA, McClatchey AI, Bernard OA, Look AT, Bell DW, Scadden DT, Haber DA. Mutations in the neutral sphingomyelinase gene SMPD3 implicate the ceramide pathway in human leukemias. Blood. 2008 May 01; 111(9):4716-22.
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  14. Hur J, Bell DW, Dean KL, Coser KR, Hilario PC, Okimoto RA, Tobey EM, Smith SL, Isselbacher KJ, Shioda T. Regulation of expression of BIK proapoptotic protein in human breast cancer cells: p53-dependent induction of BIK mRNA by fulvestrant and proteasomal degradation of BIK protein. Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 15; 66(20):10153-61.
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  15. Kwak EL, Jankowski J, Thayer SP, Lauwers GY, Brannigan BW, Harris PL, Okimoto RA, Haserlat SM, Driscoll DR, Ferry D, Muir B, Settleman J, Fuchs CS, Kulke MH, Ryan DP, Clark JW, Sgroi DC, Haber DA, Bell DW. Epidermal growth factor receptor kinase domain mutations in esophageal and pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 15; 12(14 Pt 1):4283-7.
    View on PubMed
  16. Smolen GA, Muir B, Mohapatra G, Barmettler A, Kim WJ, Rivera MN, Haserlat SM, Okimoto RA, Kwak E, Dahiya S, Garber JE, Bell DW, Sgroi DC, Chin L, Deng CX, Haber DA. Frequent met oncogene amplification in a Brca1/Trp53 mouse model of mammary tumorigenesis. Cancer Res. 2006 Apr 01; 66(7):3452-5.
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  17. Smolen GA, Sordella R, Muir B, Mohapatra G, Barmettler A, Archibald H, Kim WJ, Okimoto RA, Bell DW, Sgroi DC, Christensen JG, Settleman J, Haber DA. Amplification of MET may identify a subset of cancers with extreme sensitivity to the selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor PHA-665752. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 14; 103(7):2316-21.
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  18. Lynch HT, de la Chapelle A, Hampel H, Wagner A, Fodde R, Lynch JF, Okimoto R, Clark MB, Coronel S, Trowonou A, Fu YX, Haynatzki GR, Gong G. American founder mutation for Lynch syndrome. Prevalence estimates and implications. Cancer. 2006 Jan 15; 106(2):448-52.
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  19. Cohen EE, Lingen MW, Martin LE, Harris PL, Brannigan BW, Haserlat SM, Okimoto RA, Sgroi DC, Dahiya S, Muir B, Clark JR, Rocco JW, Vokes EE, Haber DA, Bell DW. Response of some head and neck cancers to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be linked to mutation of ERBB2 rather than EGFR. Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Nov 15; 11(22):8105-8.
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  20. Bell DW, Gore I, Okimoto RA, Godin-Heymann N, Sordella R, Mulloy R, Sharma SV, Brannigan BW, Mohapatra G, Settleman J, Haber DA. Inherited susceptibility to lung cancer may be associated with the T790M drug resistance mutation in EGFR. Nat Genet. 2005 Dec; 37(12):1315-6.
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