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Meet our Staff

The founding directors of the Hemoglobinopathy Reference Laboratory Bertram H. Lubin, MD and Elliott Vichinsky, MD and executive directors of the Red Blood Cell Laboratory, Carolyn Hoppe, MD and Frans Kuypers, PhD have a long standing record in hemoglobinopathy and red cell research. The laboratory managers Mahin Azimi, BS and Sandra Larkin, MS have extensive experience in laboratory management and lead a team of experienced laboratory staff to provide comprehensive services for the analysis of clinical samples as well as samples generated in basic and translational studies.

In addition to to providing laboratory services, our team is highly experienced in the design of clinical study management including preparation and shipment of samples as well as database management for sample storage, tracking and reporting.

The laboratory prides itself on delivering high quality diagnostic testing services in a timely fashion and has established strong working relationships with medical and research professionals at institutions across the country.

Dr. Carolyn Hoppe Hoppe is a hematologist/oncologist at Children’s Hospital & Research Oakland (CHRCO) and a clinical scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) with a focus in translational research in sickle cell disease. She attended the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.  She completed her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at CHRCO. She has been a team member of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program at CHRCO for the past ten years. As the medical director of the Hemoglobinopathy Reference Laboratory, Dr. Hoppe works closely with the California Newborn Screening Program to ensure that conformatory testing is performed on all California newborns with a suspected hemoglobin disorder. Dr. Hoppe is a member of the American College of Medical Genetics Hemoglobinopathies Work Group, and helped develop the newborn screening for hemoglobin disorders ACT sheets for primary care providers nationally. Together with the California Newborn Screening Program she has revised the ACMG guidelines and algorithms as needed to be consistent with California policies and procedures. She is a consultant for the CDC, MCHB-HRSA sponsored Talking Drums Project and provides interpretation of laboratory tests used in counseling for sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies.

Together with the sickle cell team at CHRCO, Dr. Hoppe continues to participate in sickle cell outreach and community and provider education aimed to improve coping and quality of life for children and families with sickle cell disease.  She is a cosponsor for the California Sickle Cell Statewide Symposium.

Dr. Frans Kuypers is a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research HoppeInstitute (CHORI) with a focus on research in membrane biology and hemoglobinopathies. He received two masters degrees, one in Chemical engineering and the other in Chemistry at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. After a PhD degree in Lipid Biochemistry he joined CHORI in 1985. In 1987 he started the Red Cell Research Laboratory to provide support for Clinical and translational studies in hemoglobinopathies. His basic research on  red cell membrane lipid organization and its relation to health and disease has resulted in more than 150 publications.  Alterations in the complex system of enzymatic and signal transduction pathways that maintain red cell membrane lipid integrity play an important role in the pathology of hemoglobinopathies. His interest in erythropoiesis has recently led to the discovery that the human term placenta is a rich resource of hematopoietic cells that can be harvested, and augment cord blood for the use in bone marrow transplant. Together with the mechanical engineering department at UC Berkeley he develops new technology that combines nanotechnology and the measurement of heterogeneous cell populations.
The Red Cell Research Laboratory laboratory is an integral part of the translational research efforts pursued by the hematology department at Children’s Hospital Oakland, serves as a core laboratory for multi-center clinical studies, and is a training resource for clinical fellows.

Mahin Azimi, BS, CLS, is a Senior Clinical Laboratory Research Scientist and mahinSupervisor of the CHRCO Hemoglobinopathy Reference Laboratory.  Mahin holds three Bachelor’s degrees: one in Social Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, one in Medical Laboratory Sciences from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a specialty in Clinical Laboratory Science from the California State University, Hayward.  She currently holds 3 licenses in the State of California: CLS, ASCP, NCA.   She came to the laboratory at CHRCO in 1994 and has played an integral role in building the laboratory into a nationally recognized resource for diagnosis and interpretation of hemoglobinopathies.


The laboratory is staffed by a team of scientists and technologists with expertise in protein chemistry and molecular biology.  The laboratory team includes Helen Lee, BS (Biology), Medical Technologist and Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Jialing Cui, BS (Chemistry), MS (Organic Chemistry and Molecular Biology), Litina Mishra, MSc Microbiology, MS Biology and Christal Garrison, BS in Molecular Biology. 

Sandra Larkin, MS is a Senior Staff Research Associate, CHORI and the supervisor of the Red Cell Research Laboratory. She received her Bachelor’s of Science degree from the HoppeUniversity of California at Berkeley in 1992 with an Environmental Science major and a Forestry minor. She began work at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in 1995. She completed a Master’s of Science degree in 2004 at San Francisco State University in Biomedical Laboratory Sciences while working full time in the lab. Studies in membrane biology and hemoglobinopathies have been the center of her research for the last 15 years. In addition to characterizing several factors and proteins that maintain red blood cell membranes, she has been involved in studies that have defined membrane alterations that play a role in the pathology in sickle cell disease and thalassemia.  As supervisor of the Red Cell Research Laboratory she has provided a resource for the analysis of blood components in translational research studies in hemoglobinopathies. she has provided leadership in the developoment of protocols for sample collection and shipment procedures, development of database systems for sample tracking and results, coordination of laboratory analysis on samples collected for these studies, the analasis of the data, and presention the results to the collaborators both informally as well as at scientific meetings. As manager of the CHORI flowcytometry facility at CHORI, she has been responsible for flowcytometric analysis of blood cells and stem cell populations.