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.

Education

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

  • 1991
    Honorary Technical Consultant, Cancer Information Service of the Pacific, National Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington
  • 1995
    Robert Larner, M.D. Medical Student Loan Fund Award, University of Vermont, College of Medicine
  • 1996
    James E. Demeules Surgical Research Prize, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Department of Surgery
  • 1998
    "Medical Student Teaching Award", University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pathology
  • 2010
    "Excellence in Teaching Award in Anatomic Pathology", Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Pathology , Residents and Fellows
  • 2007
    "Outstanding Teaching in Anatomic Pathology", University of Pittsburgh, Department of Pathology, Residents and Fellows

Selected Publications

  1. Mou E, Falchi L, Sundaram V, Abramson JS, Balassanian R, Beygi S, Fitzpatrick MJ, Frank AK, Gupta S, Lin O, Long SR, 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 Jun 26; 1-9.  View on PubMed
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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 PI3Ka/d and HDAC. J Invest Dermatol. 2021 02; 141(2):364-373.  View on PubMed
  6. 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
  7. Balassanian R, Ng DL, van Zante A. Stop using expired plasma for cell blocks. Cancer Cytopathol. 2019 12; 127(12):737-738.  View on PubMed
  8. Ng DL, Balassanian R. Granulomatous inflammation diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration biopsy. J Am Soc Cytopathol. 2019 Nov - Dec; 8(6):317-323.  View on PubMed
  9. VanderLaan PA, Chen Y, Alex D, Balassanian R, Cuda J, Hoda RS, Illei PB, McGrath CM, Randolph ML, Reynolds JP, Spiczka AJ, VandeHaar MA, van Zante A, Sauter JL, American Society of Cytopathology Clinical Practice Committee . Results from the 2019 American Society of Cytopathology survey on rapid on-site evaluation-Part 1: objective practice patterns. J Am Soc Cytopathol. 2019 Nov - Dec; 8(6):333-341.  View on PubMed
  10. Ng DL, Vuhahula E, Zhang L, Waterhouse EG, White KL, Mushi BP, Nyeriga MS, Philipo GS, Mmbaga EJ, Sheth S, Van Loon K, Lee AY, Balassanian R. Efficacy of an Intensive, Ultrasound-Guided Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy Training Workshop in Tanzania. J Glob Oncol. 2018 10; 4:1-9.  View on PubMed
  11. Chan E, Balassanian R, Tabatabai ZL, Lou H, Vohra P. Improved diagnostic precision of urine cytology by implementation of The Paris System and the use of cell blocks. Cancer Cytopathol. 2018 09; 126(9):809-816.  View on PubMed
  12. Lindström LS, Yau C, Czene K, Thompson CK, Hoadley KA, Van't Veer LJ, Balassanian R, Bishop JW, Carpenter PM, Chen YY, Datnow B, Hasteh F, Krings G, Lin F, Zhang Y, Nordenskjöld B, Stål O, Benz CC, Fornander T, Borowsky AD, Esserman LJ, STO Trialists Group . Intratumor Heterogeneity of the Estrogen Receptor and the Long-term Risk of Fatal Breast Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2018 07 01; 110(7):726-733.  View on PubMed
  13. Gradishar WJ, Anderson BO, Balassanian R, Blair SL, Burstein HJ, Cyr A, Elias AD, Farrar WB, Forero A, Giordano SH, Goetz MP, Goldstein LJ, Isakoff SJ, Lyons J, Marcom PK, Mayer IA, McCormick B, Moran MS, O'Regan RM, Patel SA, Pierce LJ, Reed EC, Salerno KE, Schwartzberg LS, Sitapati A, Smith KL, Smith ML, Soliman H, Somlo G, Telli ML, Ward JH, Kumar R, Shead DA. Breast Cancer, Version 4.2017, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2018 Mar; 16(3):310-320.  View on PubMed
  14. Qiao Y, Hayward JH, Balassanian R, Ray KM, Joe BN, Lee AY. Tuberculosis mastitis presenting as bilateral breast masses. Clin Imaging. 2018 Nov - Dec; 52:28-31.  View on PubMed
  15. Maglione KD, Lee AY, Ray KM, Joe BN, Balassanian R. Radiologic-Pathologic Correlation for Benign Results After MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 Aug; 209(2):442-453.  View on PubMed
  16. Gradishar WJ, Anderson BO, Balassanian R, Blair SL, Burstein HJ, Cyr A, Elias AD, Farrar WB, Forero A, Giordano SH, Goetz MP, Goldstein LJ, Isakoff SJ, Lyons J, Marcom PK, Mayer IA, McCormick B, Moran MS, O'Regan RM, Patel SA, Pierce LJ, Reed EC, Salerno KE, Schwartzberg LS, Sitapati A, Smith KL, Smith ML, Soliman H, Somlo G, Telli M, Ward JH, Shead DA, Kumar R. NCCN Guidelines Insights: Breast Cancer, Version 1.2017. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2017 04; 15(4):433-451.  View on PubMed
  17. Ly A, Ono JC, Hughes KS, Pitman MB, Balassanian R. Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy of Palpable Breast Masses: Patterns of Clinical Use and Patient Experience. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2016 05; 14(5):527-36.  View on PubMed
  18. Balassanian R, Wool GD, Ono JC, Olejnik-Nave J, Mah MM, Sweeney BJ, Liberman H, Ljung BM, Pitman MB. A superior method for cell block preparation for fine-needle aspiration biopsies. Cancer Cytopathol. 2016 Jul; 124(7):508-18.  View on PubMed
  19. Gradishar WJ, Anderson BO, Balassanian R, Blair SL, Burstein HJ, Cyr A, Elias AD, Farrar WB, Forero A, Giordano SH, Goetz M, Goldstein LJ, Hudis CA, Isakoff SJ, Marcom PK, Mayer IA, McCormick B, Moran M, Patel SA, Pierce LJ, Reed EC, Salerno KE, Schwartzberg LS, Smith KL, Smith ML, Soliman H, Somlo G, Telli M, Ward JH, Shead DA, Kumar R. Invasive Breast Cancer Version 1.2016, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2016 Mar; 14(3):324-54.  View on PubMed
  20. Gradishar WJ, Anderson BO, Balassanian R, Blair SL, Burstein HJ, Cyr A, Elias AD, Farrar WB, Forero A, Giordano SH, Goetz M, Goldstein LJ, Hudis CA, Isakoff SJ, Marcom PK, Mayer IA, McCormick B, Moran M, Patel SA, Pierce LJ, Reed EC, Salerno KE, Schwartzberg LS, Smith KL, Smith ML, Soliman H, Somlo G, Telli M, Ward JH, Shead DA, Kumar R. NCCN Guidelines Insights Breast Cancer, Version 1.2016. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2015 Dec; 13(12):1475-85.  View on PubMed

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