Research Summary

Dr. Ronald Balassanian is a pathologist in the UCSF Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy Clinic at the Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building at Mission Bay. In his research, Dr. Balassanian studies minimally invasive diagnosis through FNA biopsy and investigates the use of molecular diagnostics to increase the value of FNA biopsy. He also studies breast cancer diagnosis through FNA biopsy and surgical pathology (analyzing samples removed during surgery). He is involved in the I-SPY research trials, which aim to hasten the availability of better, more personalized treatments. He also participates in the Athena Breast Health Network, a framework to allow doctors to learn from all 150,000 patients at UC medical centers and their affiliates rather than from only the patients they treat or those in clinical trials. In addition, he leads a research project called "Ask Your Pathologist," which has the goal of improving communication between pathologists and breast cancer patients.

Dr. Balassanian earned his medical degree at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. At UCSF, he completed residency training in pathology and laboratory medicine, as well as fellowship training in surgical pathology and cytopathology.

Dr. Balassanian is a fellow of the College of American Pathologists. He is a member of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Cytopathology and Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology. He participates in the UCSF Global Cancer Program, contributing to teaching, implementation and research projects on breast FNA biopsy in Peru and Tanzania.


University of Washington, Seattle, BS, 06/89, Cell Biology
University of Washington, Seattle, BA, 06/89, English Literature
University of Vermont, Burlington, College of Medicine, MD, 05/96, Surgery major
University of Vermont, Burlington, Pathology, Student fellow, 12/94, Pathology
New York University, New York, PGY1 Resident, 06/97, Pathology
University of California San Francisco, Resident, 06/98, Pathology
University of California San Francisco, Resident, 06/99, Pathology & Lab Med
University of California San Francisco, Fellow, 06/00, Surgical Pathology
University of California San Francisco, Fellow, 06/01, Cytopathology
University of California San Francisco, Chief Resident, 12/00, Pathology
University of California San Francisco, Resident, 06/02, Laboratory Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • 2022
    The Yolanda Oertel Interventional Cytopathologist Award, Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology
  • 2022
    Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leadership Award for Faculty, Department of Pathology, UCSF
  • 2021
    Quality Improvement in Cytology Abstract Award, American Society of Cytopathology, 69th Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2021
    Faculty Teaching Award, Department of Pathology, Residents and Fellows in Pathology, UCSF Department of Pathology
  • 2015
    Faculty Award of Excellence, Department of Pathology, UCSF
  • 2010
    Excellence in Teaching Award in Anatomic Pathology, Residents and Fellows in Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • 2007
    Outstanding Teaching in Anatomic Pathology, Residents and Fellows in Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA

Selected Publications

  1. Greenland NY, Khorsandi N, Peng Y, Balassanian R, Tabatabai ZL, Tiffany Shing TW, Vohra P. Utility and performance of cell blocks in urine cytology: Experience at three teaching hospitals. Cancer Cytopathol. 2023 Jun 08.  View on PubMed
  2. Ly A, Balassanian R, Alperstein S, Donnelly A, McGrath C, Sohani AR, Stelow EB, Thrall MJ, Zhang ML, Pitman MB. One procedure-one report: the Re-Imagine Cytopathology Task Force position paper on small tissue biopsy triage in anatomic pathology. J Am Soc Cytopathol. 2023 May 05.  View on PubMed
  3. Fitzpatrick MJ, Sundaram V, Ly A, Abramson JS, Balassanian R, Cheung MC, Cook SL, Falchi L, Frank AK, Gupta S, Hasserjian RP, Lin O, Long SR, Menke JR, Mou E, Reed DR, Ruiz-Cordero R, Volaric AK, Wang L, Wen KW, Xie Y, Zadeh SL, Gratzinger D. Small volume biopsy diagnostic yield at initial diagnosis versus recurrence/transformation of follicular lymphoma: A retrospective Cyto-Heme Interinstitutional Collaborative study. Cancer Cytopathol. 2023 05; 131(5):279-288.  View on PubMed
  4. Volaric AK, Lin O, Balassanian R, Cook S, Falchi L, Fitzpatrick MJ, Frank AK, Gupta S, Hasserjian RP, Long S, Ly A, Menke JR, Mou E, Natkunam Y, Reed DR, Ruiz-Cordero R, Wang L, Wen KW, Xie Y, Zadeh SL, Gratzinger D, Cyto-Heme Institutional Collaborative (CHIC) Consortium. Diagnostic Discrepancies in Small-volume Biopsy for the Initial Diagnosis, Recurrence, and Transformation of Follicular Lymphoma: A Multi-Institutional Collaborative Study. Am J Surg Pathol. 2023 02 01; 47(2):212-217.  View on PubMed
  5. Osdoit M, Yau C, Symmans WF, Boughey JC, Ewing CA, Balassanian R, Chen YY, Krings G, Wallace AM, Zare S, Fadare O, Lancaster R, Wei S, Godellas CV, Tang P, Tuttle TM, Klein M, Sahoo S, Hieken TJ, Carter JM, Chen B, Ahrendt G, Tchou J, Feldman M, Tousimis E, Zeck J, Jaskowiak N, Sattar H, Naik AM, Lee MC, Rosa M, Khazai L, Rendi MH, Lang JE, Lu J, Tawfik O, Asare SM, Esserman LJ, Mukhtar RA. Association of Residual Ductal Carcinoma In Situ With Breast Cancer Recurrence in the Neoadjuvant I-SPY2 Trial. JAMA Surg. 2022 11 01; 157(11):1034-1041.  View on PubMed
  6. Kouanda A, Mclean R, Faggen A, Demissie E, Balassanian R, Kamal F, Avila P, Arain M, Dai SC, Munroe C. Telecytology versus in-room cytopathologist for EUS-guided FNA or fine-needle biopsy sampling of solid pancreatic lesions. Gastrointest Endosc. 2023 03; 97(3):466-471.  View on PubMed
  7. Vohra P, Khanafshar E, Balassanian R. Interventional cytology benefits patients undergoing thyroid FNA. Cancer Cytopathol. 2023 04; 131(4):214-216.  View on PubMed
  8. Marczyk M, Mrukwa A, Yau C, Wolf D, Chen YY, Balassanian R, Nanda R, Parker BA, Krings G, Sattar H, Zeck JC, Albain KS, Boughey JC, Liu MC, Elias AD, Clark AS, Venters SJ, Shad S, Basu A, Asare SM, Buxton M, Asare AL, Rugo HS, Perlmutter J, DeMichele AM, Yee D, Berry DA, Veer LV, Symmans WF, Esserman L, Pusztai L, I-SPY Consortium. Treatment Efficacy Score-continuous residual cancer burden-based metric to compare neoadjuvant chemotherapy efficacy between randomized trial arms in breast cancer trials. Ann Oncol. 2022 08; 33(8):814-823.  View on PubMed
  9. Sahoo S, Krings G, Chen YY, Carter JM, Chen B, Guo H, Hibshoosh H, Reisenbichler E, Fan F, Wei S, Khazai L, Balassanian R, Klein ME, Shad S, Venters SJ, Borowsky AD, Symmans WF, Ocal IT. Standardizing Pathologic Evaluation of Breast Carcinoma After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2022 05 01; 147(5):591-603.  View on PubMed
  10. Balassanian R, Vohra P. Limitations and opportunities for tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in breast FNA. Cancer Cytopathol. 2022 05; 130(5):328-329.  View on PubMed
  11. Zadeh SL, Balassanian R, Cheung MC, Falchi L, Hasserjian R, Lin O, Long SR, Ly A, Menke JR, Mou E, Natkunam Y, Ruiz-Cordero R, Volaric AK, Wang L, Wen KW, Gratzinger D. Global Cytopathology-Hematopathology Practice Trends. Am J Clin Pathol. 2022 Feb 03; 157(2):196-201.  View on PubMed
  12. Zadeh SL, Balassanian R, Cheung MC, Falchi L, Hasserjian R, Lin O, Long SR, Ly A, Menke JR, Mou E, Natkunam Y, Ruiz-Cordero R, Volaric AK, Wang L, Wen KW, Gratzinger D. Corrigendum to: Global Cytopathology-Hematopathology Practice Trends. Am J Clin Pathol. 2022 Jan 06; 157(1):155.  View on PubMed
  13. Symmans WF, Yau C, Chen YY, Balassanian R, Klein ME, Pusztai L, Nanda R, Parker BA, Datnow B, Krings G, Wei S, Feldman MD, Duan X, Chen B, Sattar H, Khazai L, Zeck JC, Sams S, Mhawech-Fauceglia P, Rendi M, Sahoo S, Ocal IT, Fan F, LeBeau LG, Vinh T, Troxell ML, Chien AJ, Wallace AM, Forero-Torres A, Ellis E, Albain KS, Murthy RK, Boughey JC, Liu MC, Haley BB, Elias AD, Clark AS, Kemmer K, Isaacs C, Lang JE, Han HS, Edmiston K, Viscusi RK, Northfelt DW, Khan QJ, Leyland-Jones B, Venters SJ, Shad S, Matthews JB, Asare SM, Buxton M, Asare AL, Rugo HS, Schwab RB, Helsten T, Hylton NM, van 't Veer L, Perlmutter J, DeMichele AM, Yee D, Berry DA, Esserman LJ. Assessment of Residual Cancer Burden and Event-Free Survival in Neoadjuvant Treatment for High-risk Breast Cancer: An Analysis of Data From the I-SPY2 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Oncol. 2021 Nov 01; 7(11):1654-1663.  View on PubMed
  14. Taliaferro AS, Price ER, Hayward JH, Wong JM, Balassanian R, Fay JS, Freimanis RI, Joe BN, Lee AY. Utility and Outcomes of Preoperative Screening Breast MRI for Planned Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy in High-Risk Patients. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2022 02; 218(2):241-248.  View on PubMed
  15. Mou E, Falchi L, Sundaram V, Abramson JS, Balassanian R, Beygi S, Fitzpatrick MJ, Frank AK, Gupta S, Lin O, Reed JR, Long SR, Ly A, Menke JR, Reed DR, Ruiz-Cordero R, Volaric AK, Xie Y, Wang L, Wen KW, Zadeh SL, Natkunam Y, Cheung MC, Gratzinger D, Cyto-Heme Institutional Collaborative (CHIC) consortium. Impact of initial biopsy type on the time to final diagnostic biopsy in patients with follicular lymphoma and suspected histologic transformation. Leuk Lymphoma. 2021 12; 62(12):2864-2872.  View on PubMed
  16. Aklilu S, Bain C, Bansil P, de Sanjose S, Dunstan JA, Castillo V, Tsu V, Contreras I, Balassanian R, Hayes Constant TK, Scheel JR. Evaluation of diagnostic ultrasound use in a breast cancer detection strategy in Northern Peru. PLoS One. 2021; 16(6):e0252902.  View on PubMed
  17. Im CJ, Miller A, Balassanian R, Mukhtar RA. Early onset, multiple, bilateral fibroadenomas of the breast: a case report. BMC Womens Health. 2021 04 21; 21(1):170.  View on PubMed
  18. Sauter JL, Chen Y, Alex D, Balassanian R, Cuda J, Flanagan MB, Griffith CC, Illei P, Johnson DN, McGrath CM, Randolph ML, Reynolds JP, Spiczka AJ, van Zante A, VanderLaan PA, American Society of Cytopathology Clinical Practice Committee. Results from the 2019 American Society of Cytopathology survey on rapid onsite evaluation (ROSE)-part 2: subjective views among the cytopathology community. J Am Soc Cytopathol. 2020 Nov - Dec; 9(6):570-578.  View on PubMed
  19. Wu CH, Yang CY, Wang L, Gao HX, Rakhshandehroo T, Afghani S, Pincus L, Balassanian R, Rubenstein J, Gill R, Bandyopadhyay S, McCormick F, Moasser M, Ai WZ. Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma PDX Drug Screening Platform Identifies Cooperation between Inhibitions of PI3Kα/δ and HDAC. J Invest Dermatol. 2021 02; 141(2):364-373.  View on PubMed
  20. Marker KM, Zavala VA, Vidaurre T, Lott PC, Vásquez JN, Casavilca-Zambrano S, Calderón M, Abugattas JE, Gómez HL, Fuentes HA, Picoaga RL, Cotrina JM, Neciosup SP, Castañeda CA, Morante Z, Valencia F, Torres J, Echeverry M, Bohórquez ME, Polanco-Echeverry G, Estrada-Florez AP, Serrano-Gómez SJ, Carmona-Valencia JA, Alvarado-Cabrero I, Sanabria-Salas MC, Velez A, Donado J, Song S, Cherry D, Tamayo LI, Huntsman S, Hu D, Ruiz-Cordero R, Balassanian R, Ziv E, Zabaleta J, Carvajal-Carmona L, Fejerman L, COLUMBUS Consortium. Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-Positive Breast Cancer Is Associated with Indigenous American Ancestry in Latin American Women. Cancer Res. 2020 05 01; 80(9):1893-1901.  View on PubMed

Go to UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI