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Elham Khanafshar


Director, Cytopathology Division of the Department of Pathology

Dr. Elham Khanafshar is a cytopathologist, a specialist who diagnoses disease by examining samples at the cellular level. She has expertise in performing fine needle aspiration, a simple procedure in which a needle is used to draw material through the skin from a lump, producing a sample that can be examined microscopically to determine whether the lump is cancerous. She also specializes in exfoliative cytology, where cells shed from body surfaces are checked for signs of disease.

Khanafshar's research focuses on the pathology of endocrine disorders, particularly thyroid diseases. She has also investigated how to improve fine needle aspiration biopsies to obtain better samples for research.

Khanafshar earned her medical degree from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran. She then earned a master's degree in molecular and experimental pathology from the University of Southern California. She completed a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a fellowship in surgical pathology at the University of California, San Diego, before returning to USC for a fellowship in cytopathology.

Khanafshar is passionate about educating future pathologists, and she serves as director of UCSF's pathology fellowship program. She is a member of the Endocrine Pathology Society, Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology, American Society of Cytopathology, College of American Pathologists and United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology.

  • Education

    Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 1997

    University of Southern California, MS, Molecular and Experimental Pathology, 1999

  • Residencies

    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, 2003

  • Fellowships

    UC San Diego Health, Surgical Pathology, 2004

    University of Southern California, Cytopathology, 2005

  • Academic Title


  • Languages