Children's Cancer Center Team

Physicians
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Saro H. Armenian, D.O., M.P.H.
Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist
Duarte - Main Campus

Pediatric hematologist-oncologist Saro Armenian, D.O., M.P.H., is the Barron Hilton Chair in Pediatrics, with expertise in pediatric cancer, epidemiology and cancer survivorship.

Behnam Badie, M.D.
Neurosurgeon; Heritage Provider Network Professor in Gene Therapy
Duarte - Main Campus

Behnam Badie, M.D., is a renowned neurosurgeon and expert in the field of surgical neuro-oncology, nanotechnology and T cell research.

Jeffrey Bender, MD
Jeffrey Bender, M.D.
Physician; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Duarte - Main Campus

The research of Jeffrey Bender, M.D., examines the community of microbes that inhabit the human gut, aims to prevent infection in pediatric hospitals and explores how the tools of microbiology can improve the deployment of antibiotics. 

Rusha Bhandari
Rusha Bhandari, M.D., M.S.
Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist
Duarte - Main Campus

Rusha Bhandari, M.D., M.S., is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Populations Sciences at City of Hope.

Vincent Chan
Vincent Chan, M.D.
Pediatric Hospitalist
Duarte - Main Campus

Vincent Chan, M.D., is a pediatrician and hospitalist at City of Hope.

Meet Neurosurgeon Mike Y. Chen, M.D., Ph.D. | City of Hope
Duarte - Main Campus; Arcadia

A prolific researcher and talented surgeon, Mike Y. Chen, M.D., Ph.D., has been on City of Hope's neurosurgery team since 2007. He specializes in complex operations for the removal of brain and spine tumors.

Sanjeet Dadwal, M.D.
Sanjeet Singh Dadwal, M.D.
Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; Physician
Duarte - Main Campus

Sanjeet Singh Dadwal, M.D., is chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, and professor in the Department of Medicine, with a clinical focus on infectious diseases.

Dandapani Savita
Savita Dandapani, M.D., Ph.D.
Radiation Oncologist
Duarte - Main Campus

Savita Dandapani, M.D., Ph.D., is a radiation oncologist at City of Hope who specializes in improving treatment outcomes and reducing side effects for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

Julie DiMundo
Julie F. DiMundo, D.O.
Pediatric Hospitalist
Duarte - Main Campus

Julie DiMundo, D.O., is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

Michael Donahue
Michael Donahue, M.D.
Pediatric Hospitalist
Duarte - Main Campus

Michael Donahue, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

Adjunct Faculty
Chun-Wei David Chen bio image
Chun-Wei (David) Chen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Systems Biology

David Chen, Ph.D., is an associate professor and director of the Division of Epigenetic and Transcriptional Engineering in the Department of Systems Biology

Zhaohui Gu
Zhaohui Gu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Computational and Quantitative Medicine
Duarte - Main Campus

Dr. Gu’s research focus is to integrate multi-omics platforms, advanced analytical approaches, and multiple experimental models to study the heterogeneity of acute leukemias and facilitate the development of more efficacious targeted therapies.

Shai Izraeli - Systems Biology
Shai Izraeli, M.D.
Research Professor, Department of Systems Biology
Duarte - Main Campus

Shai Izraeli, M.D., is a Research Professor in the Department of Systems Biology.

Assistant Professor, Department of Hematologic Malignancies Translational Science
Ling Li, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Hematologic Malignancies Translational Science
Duarte - Main Campus

Ling Li, Ph.D., is an associate professor in Beckman Research Institute's Department of Hematologic Malignancies Translational Science.

Srividya Swaminathan
Srividya Swaminathan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Systems Biology
Duarte - Main Campus

Srividya Swaminathan, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Systems Biology.

Other Clinical Staff
Liz Cooke, R.N., Ph.D.
Liz Cooke, R.N., Ph.D.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Liz is a nurse practitioner who has over 30 years of experience in oncology. She has worked in various areas of oncology, but has a special interest in the care of bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients. In addition, Liz has an extensive background in clinical research focusing on educational interventions post-transplant and building resilience. She is a member of the Childhood and Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Program. Education Master’s in Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles Ph.D., Northcentral University. Certified as a nurse practitioner since 1991 Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the California Board of Nursing Advanced practice professional certifications in oncology, adult and geriatrics, and psychiatric and mental health
Lisa Gutierrez, PNP
Lisa Guttierrez, PNP
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Lisa is a pediatric bone marrow transplant nurse practitioner (NP) in the Department of Pediatrics at City of Hope. She has more than 18 years’ experience as an RN/NP in pediatric hematology/oncology and bone marrow transplants. Lisa has worked at City of Hope for the last 12 years. Education Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Dominican University of California Master of Science in Nursing, Azusa Pacific University Certifications as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC) and in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing (CPHON) Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the California Board of Registered Nursing and Pediatric Nursing Certification Board Affiliated with the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses, Children’s Oncology Group, the Oncology Nursing Society, NAPNAP and the California Association for Nurse Practitioners
Debbie Hitt, RN
Debbie Hitt, R.N.
Pediatric Nurse Coordinator
Debbie is a pediatric nurse coordinator practicing in HCT/CAR T cell therapy at City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics. She has 40 years of experience working as an R.N. at City of Hope, 37 of those as a pediatric nurse coordinator. Education Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Azusa Pacific University Certifications in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing (CPHON) and as a Bone Marrow Transplantation Certified Nurse (BMTCN) Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the California Board of Nursing. Affiliated with the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses and Children’s Oncology Group
Rachelle Levy, MSN, CPNP-AC, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner | City of Hope
Rachelle Levy, M.S.N., CPNP-AC
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Rachelle V. Levy is a pediatric hematology oncology nurse practitioner in the Department of Pediatrics at City of Hope. She has five years of experience as a nurse, primarily training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her nurse practitioner training was with their CAR T-cell and neuro-oncology programs. She joined City of Hope in 2022, with her practice focusing on leukemia, lymphoma and cellular therapies. Education Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles Bachelor of Science, Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Master of Science, Nursing, Focus on Pediatric Acute Care and Concentration in Oncology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Professional Experience 2022-present, Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Department of Pediatrics, City of Hope, Duarte, CA 2018-2022, Nurse, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA Board Certifications California Board of Registered Nursing Pediatric Nursing Certification Board APHON NAPNAP CANP ELNEC COG
Margarita Munoz, PA
Margarita Munoz, PA
Pediatric Oncology/Sarcoma Physician Assistant
Margarita Munoz is a pediatric oncology/sarcoma physician assistant in the Department of Pediatrics at City of Hope. She has more than 25 years’ experience working as a PA in pediatric hematology/oncology, with 21 years at City of Hope. Education Bachelor of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Southern California Master’s in Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles Certified as a physician assistant (PA-C) through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the Physician Assistant Board (PAB) of California Affiliated with the American Academy of Physician Associates, California Association of Physician Assistants, the Association of Physician Assistants in Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Children’s Oncology Group
Cheryl Oliver-Cervantes, RN
Cheryl Oliver-Cervantes, R.N.
Pediatric Nurse Coordinator
Cheryl is a pediatric nurse coordinator in City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics HCT/cellular therapy. She has more than 20 years of experience as an R.N. and has worked at City of Hope for 23 years. Education Associate of Science in Nursing, Los Angeles County College of Nursing Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, California State University, Fullerton Certified in Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nursing (CPHON) and as a Bone Marrow Transplantation Certified Nurse (BMTCN) Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the California Board of Registered Nursing Affiliated with the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses and Children’s Oncology Group
Yossyanne Simbolon, PNP
Yossyanne Simbolon, PNP
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Yossyanne is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in the Department of Pediatrics at City of Hope. She currently provides care to pediatric patients in the acute care setting and has served the community as a primary care provider and as nurse educator in both clinical and theoretical settings Education Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Loma Linda University Master of Science in Nursing, from California State University, Long Beach Licenses and Affiliations Board of Nursing California Pediatric Nursing Certification Board End of Life Care Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Children’s Oncology Group NIH National Cancer Institute
Jackelene Valdez, RN
Jackelene Valdez, R.N.
Pediatric Nurse Coordinator
Jackelene is a pediatric nurse coordinator in the Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at City of Hope. She has 13 years of experience working at City of Hope. Education Bachelor of Science in Nursing Certifications in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing (CPHON) and as a Bone Marrow Transplantation Certified Nurse (BMTCN) Licenses and Affiliations Licensed with the California Board of Nursing Affiliated with the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses, the Oncology Nursing Society and the Southern California Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses
Karla Wilson, R.N., MSN, FNP-C
Karla Wilson, R.N., MSN, FNP-C
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Karla is a nurse practitioner who has more than 45 years’ experience in pediatric oncology and a special interest in children with brain tumors. She oversees the Childhood and Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Program and provides clinical care to this group of patients. Education Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing Master’s in Child Health Nursing, University of Missouri Postmaster’s Certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner at USC Licenses and Affiliations Licensed by the California Board of Nursing Founding member and developer, national certification program for pediatric oncology nurses Served as president of the Certification Corporation of Pediatric Oncology Nurses (CCPON) and board of directors member for the Oncology Nurses Certification Corporation (ONCC) Served as president of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) Active in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) primarily as a member of the COG Nursing Committee and the Late Effects committee