University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Our Team

The Symptom Management Services team is made up of clinicians and staff throughout the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

SMS Team

The group includes palliative care physicians, all members of the Cancer Center social work program, the Ida & Joseph Friend Cancer Resource Center staff, and the Spiritual Care Services group.

The team also collaborates with the UCSF Art for Recovery Program, members of the Cancer Center Psycho Oncology program and community organizations including Jewish Family and Children's Services.


Michael W. Rabow, MD (Director)

Cancer Center biosketch

Michael W. Rabow, M.D., is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Board-certified in internal medicine and hospice & palliative care, he directs the Symptom Management Service at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is the Associate Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) and a member of the curriculum development committee for the PCLC Initiative nationally. The PCLC Initiative has trained more than 500 of the approximately 1200 hospital-based palliative care programs in the United States. Dr. Rabow is the executive producer of "The Caregivers" film and accompanying family caregiver handbook. He has written and taught widely about family caregiving and communication with patients and families around serious news and existential issues at the end-of-life. In addition to his clinical palliative care work, Dr. Rabow has an active outpatient primary care medicine practice.

Dr. Rabow attended UCSF for medical school and general internal medicine residency training. He completed fellowships at UCSF in general medicine, as well as in medical education research. His research work is in palliative care, family caregiving, and end-of-life care education. Dr. Rabow has served as a consultant to U.S. hospitals and hospital systems working to develop or expand their palliative care services for more than eight years and runs one of the nation's leading outpatient palliative care consultation services.

Dr. Rabow was Assistant Editor for the recently completed bimonthly section in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled "Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life." He serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Healer's Art at the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal in California.


Nancy Shepard Lopez, NP (Assistant Director)

Nancy was born and raised in Minnesota and received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Olaf College. She feels fortunate to have found her “niche” in oncology nursing and has spent her entire career taking care of cancer patients and their families. After receiving a master’s degree in oncology nursing from UCSF, Nancy worked as an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist. In this role, she helped establish an inpatient palliative care consult service at Marin General Hospital. In addition, she has taught widely on a variety of oncology-related topics. In 2002, she returned to UCSF and completed the post-master’s acute care nurse practitioner program. As an Oncology Nurse Practitioner with both solid tumor and hematologic malignancy experience, Nancy is excited for the opportunity to focus on pain and symptom management and quality of life as a member of the Symptom Management Service team.

Nancy is an Associate Clinical Professor with the Department of Physiological Nursing at UCSF School of Nursing where she teaches and mentors graduate students. She has been active in the Oncology Nursing Society having served as local chapter president, presented at national meetings and helped develop the evidence-based guideline on management of anorexia. She is certified as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse by the Oncology Nursing Society.

S. Adkins

Sarah Adkins, MD

Dr. Sarah Adkins is a palliative care physician who treats seriously ill patients both in the hospital and at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She specializes in managing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue and anxiety. Her primary goal is to improve the quality of life of her patients and their families by addressing their physical, psychological and spiritual needs. Adkins received her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She then completed a residency in internal medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, followed by a fellowship in palliative care at UCSF. She is a member of the American Academy of Palliative Medicine and the Society of Hospital Medicine.


Kara Bischoff, MD

Kara Bischoff, MD, is the Director of Quality Improvement for the Palliative Care Service at the UCSF Medical Center. As such, she works on projects to improve pain, complete advance directives, and transition care between the hospital and home settings. She is also working with the gastrointestinal oncologists to develop a program to support patients with metastatic colorectal cancer from the time of diagnosis. Dr. Bischoff belongs to The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Society for Hospital Medicine. She attended Harvard Medical School, completed her residency at UCSF (Internal Medicine, 2012), and her Fellowship at UCSF (Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2014). She is also a mother and an outdoor enthusiast.

David Bullard, PhD

David Bullard, PhD, Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Marital and Family Therapist, has been practicing individual psychotherapy and couples therapy in San Francisco for over 30 years. He is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology (Psychiatry) at the University of California, San Francisco, where he was affiliated with the Human Sexuality Program and the Behavioral Medicine Unit, hosted international symposia on sexuality and medical conditions, and taught courses to medical students, nurses, interns, residents, faculty, therapists and other health care providers. He currently consults at UCSF with the Symptom Management Service at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is also a member of the Professional Advisory Group, Clinical Pastoral Education Program, Spiritual Care Services. More information is on the website


Brook Calton, MD, MHS

Dr. Brook Calton is a Palliative Medicine specialist at UCSF. She completed medical school, Internal Medicine-Primary Care Residency, and Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship at UCSF. Dr. Calton feels it’s a true privilege to get to know and care for her patients in SMS and her home-based palliative medicine practice at UCSF. Dr. Calton maintains a strong interest in medical education and leads several projects on serious illness communication for medical students and residents. Outside of medicine, she enjoys travelling, spending time with her husband, cat "Fenway", and friends, and searching for the best pizza in the Bay Area.


Danielle Chammas, MD

Danielle Chammas, MD was born and raised in San Diego, California. She came to the Bay Area to attend Stanford University, where she studied Human Biology as an undergraduate. She attained her MD at UCSF School of Medicine, where she graduated as part of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2010. She remained at UCSF for her residency in General Adult Psychiatry. She served as a Chief Resident at the SFVA Medical Center and was recognized in various ways for her commitment to teaching. She went on to complete a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at UCSF and is an ongoing member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Chammas now works as a physician in the Symptom Management clinic, helping to address the physical and emotional symptoms that impact her patients’ quality of life. In addition, she loves getting to know her patients as individuals and understanding what they find important and meaningful. She has a strong interest in how our culture approaches illness, in what it means to live “well,” in the humanities, and in teaching. In her free time, she enjoys writing and illustrating anything from poetry to children’s books.


Stephanie Cheng, MD

Dr. Stephanie Cheng is a palliative care physician who cares for patients with terminal or life-altering illness. Her goal is to provide holistic, person-centered care focused on improving patients' quality of life. She devotes most of her clinical time to outpatient palliative care and sees patients through the Bridges Program, which provides supportive home care to UCSF patients with life-threatening or advanced illness. She also sees oncology patients through the Symptom Management Service at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Cheng has a special interest in integrative approaches to symptom management and improving quality of life. She completed a two-year program through Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Metta Institute, exploring illness, aging and death from a contemplative perspective and learning how to incorporate mindfulness, compassion and other meditation practices into her work with patients and into her daily life. Cheng received her medical degree from Oregon Health & Science University, followed by a family medicine residency at UCSF affiliate Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. She then completed a dual fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine and integrative medicine at George Washington University. She is a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health.


Elizabeth Dito, BA, BSN, RN

Elizabeth Dito is a clinical practice nurse for the Symptom Management Service. Prior to joining the team, Elizabeth worked as an oncology nurse in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center with GI Medical Oncology in the Pancreatic Cancer Program. During that position, Elizabeth provided good symptom management and care for her patients. She recognized the need for aggressive symptom management to improve quality of life within her patient population and also identified the need for more nursing education regarding palliative care/symptom management. She developed quarterly educational sessions for practice nurses that emphasized symptom management and started the Palliative Care and Symptom Management Advisory Board.

Elizabeth started her nursing care as a bedside nurse at UCSF working with the kidney, pancreas and liver transplant services. After being promoted to Assistant Manager, Elizabeth joined the HDFCC to pursue her interest in oncology. She has been an oncology nurse since 2001. Elizabeth has degrees in Psychology from University of California, Berkeley and Nursing from University of San Francisco. She is an ELNEC trainer and remains an active member of the Palliative Care and Symptom Management Advisory Board.


Sarah Holland, BSN, RN, CHPN

Sarah Holland is a clinical practice nurse for the Symptom Management Service. Prior to joining the team, Sarah worked as an oncology nurse in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center working with the GU Medical Oncology, Melanoma, and Head & Neck Medical and Surgical Oncology practices. She started her nursing career on the hematology-oncology floor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she first became aware of the impact that good symptom management can have the quality of life of patients and their families. She is thrilled to be able to combine her passion for palliative care and oncology nursing in her current role.

Sarah has degrees in Art History from Boston College and nursing from New York University. She is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, an ELNEC Trainer, and a member of the Palliative Care and Symptom Management Nursing Advisory Board, which focuses on expanding palliative care nursing education and practice in the Cancer Center.


Brieze Robinson Keeley, MD

Dr. Brieze Robinson Keeley is a board-certified integrative internal medicine and palliative care physician who originally hails from the Midwest, but has found her home here on the West Coast. She completed her medical training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. There, she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, and received awards for Distinction in Clinical Research and Highest Overall Standing in her graduating class. Dr. Keeley then pursued residency training in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, prior to completing fellowship training in palliative medicine at the University of California San Francisco. She has since joined the UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center Symptom Management Service (SMS) as an attending physician in palliative medicine.

In addition to her work at the SMS Clinic, Dr. Keeley is currently pursuing clinical fellowship training at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. As a former professional dancer, health counselor, and long-time yoga teacher, Dr. Keeley has had a lifelong passion for helping patients and providers optimize health through lifestyle-based interventions in concert with high-quality biomedical care. This training experience is deepening her expertise in evidence-informed, integrative approaches to wellness—including dietary strategies, mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, and other complementary therapies where appropriate.

BJ Miller

Bruce (BJ) Miller, MD

BJ was born and raised principally in Chicago. He studied Art History as an undergraduate at Princeton University. After several years working in both the art and disability-rights non-profit communities he enrolled at UCSF where he completed his MD as a Regents Scholar in 2001. He completed his internal medicine residency at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara where he served as chief resident. His interests in medicine generally relate to how people cope with life-altering illness. He sees an intellectual connection between art and medicine insofar as both relate directly to the human condition and focus serious attention on the notion of perspective. He is interested in the philosophical underpinnings of medicine and end-of-life care. "I see great value in reciprocation between patient and doctor; I believe there is a vast therapeutic potential to be found within this relationship and exchange, and I believe it can be gleaned in a moment." B.J. completed a fellowship in palliative medicine at Harvard Medical School with his clinical duties split between the Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.


Laura Schoenherr, MD

Dr. Laura Schoenherr is an Assistant Professor of Palliative Medicine at UCSF. As a palliative care provider, she has special training in caring for patients with serious illness to help improve their quality of life through symptom management, advance care planning, and psycho-social support. On the inpatient consultation teams at Mission Bay and Parnassus, she works with adult patients with all types of serious illness while they are hospitalized. Here at the SMS, she sees adult patients with cancer in clinic for outpatient, longitudinal support. Dr. Schoenherr earned her medical degree from UCSF, where she also completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine. Dr. Schoenherr is a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys travel, yoga, going on walks with her dog, and spending time with her family.


Carly Zapata, MPH, MD

Carly Zapata is a palliative care doctor who provides consultations for hospitalized patients with cancer or other serious illnesses. She helps them with controlling symptoms as well as advance care planning. Zapata researches strategies to make advance care planning easier for both patients and doctors. She also studies how to promote self-care for doctors and ways to incorporate routine palliative care into oncology practices. Zapata earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a master's in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She completed her residency in internal medicine at UCSF, where she served as chief resident. She also completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at UCSF. Zapata is a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine and American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She is an assistant clinical professor at UCSF. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading fiction, exploring San Francisco and spending time with her toddler.